Joseph Beckham is the author of Overcoming Bipolar Disorder & Other Mental Difficulties: A Christian Perspective.
Get the print version today at https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=overcoming+bipolar+disorder+%26+Other+mental+difficulties&type=. Joe is also the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls – http://amzn.com/1493781286
Relationships are difficult, as we all know so well. But what is the main culprit behind the difficulties? After having counseled and taught many people about such things, I can unequivocally say, CONTROL.
In other words, “Who’s in your head?” Your mother, father, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, your favorite preacher, evangelist, teacher, whether secular or spiritual? Determining the person speaking loudest in your head is a dead giveaway about who may have control of your thoughts, emotions and sometimes actions, whether you want them there or not. Although having your favorite teacher’s words in your head may seem like a good thing, sometimes their thoughts replace your own so you can’t hear from God yourself.
Here’s one story to consider concerning a popular and deeply spiritual teacher, whose mother had exercised such control over him and his family that it had become unbearable. Finally, in desperation, he marched over to his mother’s house and confronted her in the kitchen. “Mom, it’s over! Your control over me and mine is canceled!”
When Mama’s unhappy she may have lost control
You know the adage, “When mama’s ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Regarding this man’s situation, mama wasn’t happy because her control had been broken. When this spiritual man’s words reached her ears, she promptly fell on the floor, kicked her heels in the air and screamed! Silly, childish and ridiculous? You bet. But her response was not unlike most people when they lose control over others – at least from and outward perspective. Inwardly they may be eaten up!
This lack of maturity is present in many relationships because fear has a grip. The root of control is fear of losing position, place or power over another. Jealousy often emanates out of this sick deal because jealousy is nothing but insecurity. We see this frequently in our society where people MUST maintain the illusion of control – control by physical dominance, sexual manipulation or the ever-popular dangling of the all-powerful dollar over someone’s head. In many cases this preoccupation with control leads to ungodly forms of behavior and even murder:
“You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2 Holman Christian Standard Bible). Jesus said clearly that hating is synonymous with murder.
When I counsel I ask a basic question to determine who or what is controlling someone: “Who’s in your head?” This may be difficult for some because they believe they’re a so-called “free thinker.” There’s no such thing because everyone has been influenced by what they’ve heard, read or seen. However, in most cases when the impact is severe enough to cause fear and doubt about one’s identity, I look for a name of a parent, spouse, a coach, a teacher, husband, boyfriend or girl friend who has undermined the counselee’s confidence in who they are.
How we’re controlled
There are a number of things that we should look for to determine who’s controlling us. Let’s examine a few ways people get the uppperhand over us:
Through fear of rejection– The fear of someone’s negative opinion of us may cause us to act in ways that will help us stay “in control” when the person we fear rejection from is actually controlling us. The Bible puts it this way: “The fear of man (humankind) brings a snare” (Prov. 29:25). A snare is synonymous with fear, quaking and trembling, according to the Hebrew word for snare.
Through unforgiveness– The failure to forgive puts the other person in control of you. Freedom is being free from the bondage of “getting even,” giving into revenge and holding on to long-term malice. It not only puts you at odds with the person you’re unwilling to forgive but God Himself. We pray the Lord’s Prayer and give no thought that we’re asking God NOT to forgive us if we don’t forgive others – “Forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors.”
Through judgments– The Bible is clear: “Judge not if you don’t want to be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Placing yourself under judgment in this life by judging (condemning others) sets you up for the pride of thinking you can play God, the only righteous judge. We are to discern problems with people but refrain from judging. You can’t help anyone you’re condemning!
Through hate: Someone said, “Hate is like spitting into the wind.” Even hateful words spoken have been proven by brain experts to return to the person who’s speaking them. Daily we hear through the media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the constant exchange of the most malicious, hateful, vile words imaginable.
By giving up our power– We all have a right to stand up for our rights to express ourselves, having a backbone during confrontations. Many people have the fear of confrontation, while other relish confronting others. In this situation, the person under the control of another “loses his or her voice.” They are unable to express how they really feel and often excusing this behavior, if they’re Christian, as being like Christ. If you’ve read the Bible with your eyes open, you have concluded that the Lord Jesus Christ gladly laid down his life, but he was assertive when it came to truth. He was NOT politically correct when it came to speaking the truth.
Control and spiritual warfare
The last fruit mentioned in the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:24) is self-control. Satan understands this well and attempts to hinder this fruit by using aggressive and self-centered people as controllers. These narcissistic people are almost totally directed by their own agendas, and often think God is behind them because they are often religious. They incite fear in others by using their own version of the Bible or certain verses to manipulate. Over the years, I have observed what I refer to as the Ahab-Jezebel dynamic in marriage. In this dynamic, one of the spouses exercises control over the other through verbal or physical dominance while the other spouse has no strength to stand against such tactics. They are passive.
Most are familiar with Ahab, the weak-willed and wicked king of Israel, and his wife Jezebel, a controlling wicked queen. The name Jezebel actually means “without cohabitation.” In other words, a Jezebel seeks its own way and dominance to get what it wants. Many times people refer to Jezebel as female, when, in actuality, this spirit is neither male nor female. It just seeks to manifest itself in any manner to stay in control. It can manifest itself as aggressive or sugary sweet.
Some people who are determined to stay in control and exact their own will at all cost, knowingly or unknowingly they use witchcraft to control another person or persons. That’s why breaking the control of another person is often a spiritual matter. You’re not only dealing with a controlling person but the spirit behind them. This spirit must be bound and cast away. It is unlikely, however, until certain disciplines are exercised, such as forgiving the offender that this spirit will leave.
God desires for us to experience freedom from another’s control. He sent Jesus to the cross to experience separation from Him to allow Him to break all power of sin over us.
21 He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness]. 2 Cor. 5:21 (Amp)
Control is a “soulish” thing. By this I mean souls – the way we think and act – are to be subjected to one another willingly. We call this submission, but when submission becomes control, a relationship becomes toxic and must be dealt with.
Father God wants to lead us Himself by acting upon our own spirit, according to the Word of God, and not someone else’s intense desire to control us. The Scripture is clear:
Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected] is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble]. Prov. 25:28 (Amp).