I'm sure it happens to someone in the world every few minutes, but when it happens to you, you still feel a little violated.
I woke up, did my usual routine before work, grabbed some lunch and walked out the door to jump in my car. When I got to the street I wondered where my car had gone. It was no longer a black Nissan, it had become a navy blue Honda.
I gawked at the spot where I was sure I had parked my car the night before for a good few seconds. I looked on the other side of the street, then up and down the street. My car had gone. I wondered if it was a prank, but before long it sank in... I'd been robbed. Under the Honda lay a small clue, it was part of my car lock, but the rest of the car had vanished, and was never seen again.
While everyone offered me their most sincere condolences, the truth is I wasn't too worried about the theft. It was the inconvenience and the intrusion into my life which bothered me. It was good to upgrade my car in the end, but I wanted to do it on my own terms, and the theft forced me into it. I had no control, and the lack of control is the most disturbing.
Sometimes life will slap us in the face and remind us we're in control of very little. I'm reminded of my smallness when I read of horrific news about earthquakes, floods, wars and tragedy. My problem of losing a few thousand dollars' worth of metal seems fairly pathetic in comparison.
Even Floyd Mayweather may be able to control the terms of the highest grossing boxing fight of all time, and he can probably control almost anything money can buy, but he can't control the opinions of others. While we're sold the lie of control, I think there's freedom in understanding our imperfection.
Take control of your life
I think some of us will purposely sabotage our own chances at things because we're terrified of being out of control. It's just too hard to wait for the perfect job, or the guy or girl you've always liked. Taking a risk is a big fat 'no way' to some, so we stick with the safer, more controlled, boring options.
We know the big things—like the weather and cancer—are out of our hands, but still we cling to control of everything else with everything we have! Without control what do we have left? Where's our keel? What's stopping us from tipping over, or sailing in any old direction? Our western world breeds this mantra of taking control. Coco Chanel said, "My life didn't please me, so I created my life."
We tell ourselves every day to be proactive and make something of ourselves. Don't think others are going to do things for you, we're told! You'd be crazy if you didn't try and micromanage your own life, down to the last detail. We're pretty high maintenance people. How annoying is it when you lose the TV remote or even a pen you were just using! Have you ever heard someone complain about poor service at a restaurant? We have standards! We want consistency!
I think we engineer most of our lives, seeking to control every little detail of everything we do. We want to sleep on a pillow with the right density, we want the right amount of sleep and we need to wake up at the right time. We want the shower to have the right temperature and right pressure, and we need to eat the right food. It's right to eat your biggest meal at the start of the day, right? We put on our clothes for work, making sure it's the right look for the right occasion, and we're not even out the door.
Flip a coin
You'd be silly to hand control over to a roll of a dice or a flip of a coin. Heads I turn left, tails I turn right. Heads, I'll go to the supermarket to pick up food for dinner, or tails I'll go fishing and catch my own food!
I fear we're destined to become control freaks, and we're destined to a boring life of routine driven rightness. It's like two hands firmly gripping the steering wheel and no one outside is getting a wave. We're so scared of losing control our foot is always half pressing the brake and we wonder why the accelerator seems sluggish.
I'm not saying we should leave things to chance, but I think a person who is in touch with a mature and balanced view of holding things loosely, yet responsibly, doesn't rely on things to work out their own way every time. I've seen people who are connected to a source, something bigger than themselves. They don't need to steer their own course, they trust their higher power is a safer bet when it comes to avoiding heartache. I think the balanced life needs fun, excitement and spontaneity.
Practise giving up control
In an opposite move to Coco Chanel, Richard Rohr says, "Practise giving up control early in life. You will be much happier and much closer to the truth, to the moment and to God—none of which can be experienced by taking control of your life."
It almost seems too easy, but it's not naivety, or some hippy life with no responsibility. The balanced life is a willingness to accept things are OK when you're not in control. You know they're part of a bigger picture.
I like how Jesus puts it in Matthew chapter 11, verse 28: "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". God himself wants us to rest, and to trust.
Controlling your own destiny is tough work, it's a lot of responsibility, and it's a burden we weren't made to carry. It's the weird upside down logic Jesus talked of—you find your life when you lose it.
And remember, Jesus went fishing from time to time too.
Brad Mills enjoys the outdoors and almost any sport... For a day job he's a journalist who works at the Rhema Media in Auckland New Zealand.
Brad Mill's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/brad-mills.html