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  • Writer's pictureMegan Richards

Choosing Control Never Feels As Good As Freedom

After our cast mate got us lost in the snow while steering the car as if he was on the magic tea cup ride I arrived late to our sound check; but just in time to be told that my understudy would be singing one of my songs instead of me.

I should say here that this sort of last minute change in plans is normal for the culture the production team I was working with is from. It wasn’t intended as a slight toward me. But if you know my story about the addendum to my contract that the producer of our show had tried to make me sign while we were still in rehearsals, you’ll know that I was rather sensitive at the time to any suggestion of being replaced by my understudy.

The dangerous car ride, the stress of being late to call time and months of tension-filled language and cultural barriers boiled up and brimmed over. I couldn’t think past what I was feeling. Back in those days, I hadn’t learned to process or communicate negative emotions in a healthy way.

I heard a belligerent voice say, “I’m either doing both songs or I won’t perform at all!”

I was as shocked as anybody else but too angry to take it back and too dumb to stop talking. Words kept coming out and I heard myself saying something about how I would have expected such treatment from non-Christians but certainly not from Christians. (Yep, I played that hit song.) All of the frustration from the scary car ride, my still-fresh wound from the producer and every misunderstanding throughout rehearsals came flooding out and I had no intention of damming it back up.

Apparently other people were also inches away from their boiling point because the pastor started yelling back at me (in his native tongue), along with a few members of the cast (also in their native tongue). You just haven’t lived until you hear a group of people rip you a new one in a language you don’t speak. Their tone and body language transcended my need for the interpreter. I could feel their dislike and anger toward me and I’m sure they felt the same coming from me.

There was a break between that blowup and our performance so I found an isolated hallway and called a friend. She talked me off the ledge with compassion and then correction. I hung up and I went to apologize to the pastor and then to my understudy (who, to her saintly credit, had been unfazed and compassionate throughout my meltdown).

That night, my understudy sang one song and I sang the other. I wish I could say everything was rainbows and sunshine after that but a lot of people had witnessed me flying off the handle more than once during that contract and were not as forgiving as my understudy had been. God is always kind, merciful and forgiving but often there are still consequences for our choices. It was a bitter pill I had to swallow for choosing to be mastered by my negative emotions one too many times.

I love God with all my heart and I want Him to take me from the person I am to the person He destined me to be. I want Him to take my heart and make it soft and new and full of Jesus. I understand now that every negative experience and emotion I had during that time boiled down to feelings of fear, shame and control. I was afraid I didn’t measure up. I auditioned for and earned the lead role but it felt as if there was always a question mark over whether I deserved it. That fear led to shame, which we tend to want to hide. Instead of acknowledging my fear and exposing my shame to God’s light, I tried to control the circumstances and people that were poking at my fears of not being good enough. I tumbled helplessly through this cycle of shame, fear and control.

If I could go back and talk to myself then, I’d tell myself that God wants to make a divine exchange with me. When I give him my fear, he’ll give me his peace. When I give him my shame, he’ll give me his unquestionable acceptance. And when I give up control, he’ll give me his freedom.

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and NOT in your own understanding; in all your thinking, feeling, believing, deciding and behaving,submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (my paraphrase)

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