The Desire to Control: My Own Worst Enemy

What do control freaks do when things don't go their way? Answer -- trust God? Not always the first thought.

Learning to Let Go of Control & Trust God

This week (October 25 to be exact) marks two years since we moved into our darling little house. Thinking back to that crazy Saturday, and part of Sunday makes me never want to move again. Moving can bring out the control freak in anyone! And really, who LIKES living out of boxes for weeks… who am I kidding — months!

 

All the reminiscing reminds me of the few month journey that led us to this house and the next chapter for Team Huenink. It was a true test for us of our complete powerlessness and lack of control. We truly had to put all our faith¬†in God… and He provided! Imagine that ūüôā

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The Day We Got Notice

One day, towards the end of July 2014, I got a call from our landlord while I was working. When I called her back, she politely told me that we’d need to move out by October 31. Immediately I went into panic mode; my face flushed, I could feel my heart beat in my throat, and I could hardly form a complete thought. Obviously, I wasn’t quite as calm under pressure back then, like I am now. ūüėČ Instead of getting into action and being solution focused, I started mounting a posse and went into poor us! No help to anyone…

 

My husband was able to calm me down later that day. And then I could turn my thoughts¬†into action mode. No sense in crying over something that I can’t change. No amount of tears or posse-mounting will change this situation. I didn’t see it coming. Fine. Now what? Well, let’s start discussing our options.

 

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

We took a look at our finances and became slightly discouraged. A few months earlier, we were excited to think about buying a house in about 6-8 more months — meaning we would start looking in early 2015. Let me emphasize the LOOKING. In our minds, we were still just shy of a year from being ready to purchase a house. We just didn’t have enough of a down payment yet. This fact pushed me back into the “poor me” mentality. You can see pretty clearly that life wasn’t lining up with my “plan” for us.

 

My optimistic husband pointed out, maybe we can find a small place to rent for 6 months that would allow us to continue saving, maybe even more aggressively. Now that could work! I started looking. Problem was, at that time, we had our little buddy Hank. And he was not a little dog. As I started calling around, I was unable to find a place to rent in the part of town we wanted, staying under a price we could afford, that would allow dogs over 50 lbs. AND a 6 month lease.

 

Did you hear all the “wants”? Are you sensing my control issues? Because I am. They become real when I see it on paper. And as this information sank in, again, I felt discouraged. We decided to put a pin in this whole thing for a few weeks. I turned my focus to¬†packing, since that would need to happen regardless.

 

Releasing Control

The whole situation was really overwhelming and was beginning to overtake me. You know why? Fear. What if I don’t get…. I don’t know? Did I really think we’d end up with no place to live? It’s unbelievable the stories my mind will tell me, and what’s worse is that I can believe those things! That fear will snowball until I am an anxious mess of a person.

 

As I was trying to control and manage our next move, I found myself being extremely negative a lot of the time and continuing my pity party. It didn’t go well. During this time, I was preaching to girlfriends about the idea of “turning it over” when the uncertainties of life come our way and we can’t do much about it. As it goes, I usually say the things I need to hear the most. So, I began to pray and turn over this issue that was insurmountable in my mind.

 

If I’ve learned anything about prayer it is knowing that I can’t go into it with expectations. I don’t sit down and give God my lists of needs/wants/desires anymore. The 911 prayers are over. What I know is that I am unable to do life apart from God. When I try to, life gets crazy quick — and I get crazy. And then I make life difficult for those around me.

 

So the prayers I prayed during this especially fearful time were for peace, patience, ability to pause, and guidance. I prayed that God might help me feel calmer, have a clear head, and be able to allow my husband to lead. The thing I never asked Him for was a¬†“perfect solution”. Honestly, I didn’t know what that would even look like. The way He responded blew us away…

 

The Next Right Action

After stepping back for a couple of weeks, while I focused on turning it over and putting my faith in God, rather than myself, I was ready to start solutioning again. My first steps were looking for apartments that would take large dogs (at this time Hank was about 70 lbs) in the southwest area of our city. With no luck, I expanded my search north, sticking close to the interstate for my husbands commute. When I could find somewhere that would take Hank, the leases were 1 year and neither of us wanted to be locked in that long.

 

Without getting too down, I switched my focus to rental homes. Unfortunately there were far fewer options, and the neighborhoods were not ideal. I tried to take a cue from the glass-half-full man I married and, with a positive attitude, contacted a guy who had a small house available. He wanted to meet Hank, but thought we’d be a good match for his rental.

 

I should have known it was almost too good to be true… the house was, well, a dump. While we were touring, I remember looking at my husband with wide eyes.¬†He nodded back; I think he was telling me “Just for 6 months, we can make this work.” At the end, we asked about a 6-month lease. The guy politely declined, and we understood that’s not ideal, especially for houses.

 

Out of Control, In His Control

As I began to hang my head, I saw the landlord get an idea. He started asking questions about our situation. My husband took over and as they discussed, learned about a potential opportunity for a special loan. What?! He made the connection for us and we scheduled an appointment to meet with the loan officer later that same week. Now at the end of August, we were feeling pretty desperate and this was just the news to put some wind back in our sails.

 

I went into that appointment¬†extremely optimistic, but those feelings were crushed quickly when my husband was not approved for the loan. We didn’t even want to try running my credit because of some situations I’d gotten myself into with delinquent student loans. She was very understanding and started going through some other options for us. I could feel myself getting more depressed as I looked at the number we’d need for a down-payment. It was just out of reach. Close, but not close enough to find something in the next month.

 

Emotional Rollercoaster

I’m sure the loan officer¬†could see the tears welling up in my eyes. The fear was back. She smiled and said, “I’d like to run your credit, just to see. Will you let me?” I turned to my husband and he nodded. So she disappeared for a few more minutes. The anxiety was kicking in and my teeth began to chatter. When she returned she was silent. She sat down, looked at us both, the time seemed to be standing still. Finally she grinned, “You are¬†approved!” Even as I write this, I have chills and tears in my eyes, the same as that day!

 

“Oh my goodness, what does this mean?!” She had me fill out the paperwork and take all the necessary steps to push the loan through. Thank goodness for people who do these things regular, it’s all foreign to me. After we finished, I asked, “What are the next steps look like?” She smiled again, “Now you go find a house. You’ve got two weeks!” Say WHAT?!

 

Just Keep Swimming…

We walked out of the bank feeling awesome and completely overwhelmed all at the same time. We were leaving the next day for a long weekend visiting family and running a race. This would drastically cut down our house hunting time. I got on the phone with the landlord who had started this ball rolling; he mentioned that he was a broker, so I asked him to help. He quickly agreed, and we set a time to meet on Monday evening, Labor Day. I spent the next few hours sending him links
to homes in the area we loved, along with our “need/want” list (which was surprisingly short).control_raceday
Our broker prepared a plan of attack for us on Monday evening and told us to go enjoy our weekend. He assured us we would work hard the next week to find something, so not to let it ruin our trip! He was right, we’d committed to this trip and had been preparing for the race for months! It was clear this was out of my control for now.

 

So off we went, praying throughout the trip to just be where our hands were at the time. To run our race hard, enjoy time family, and to relax and enjoy each other. It was a fantastic trip and we only cut it short by a few hours.

 

House Hunting

It¬†had been years since I’d been house hunting. I had been to plenty of open houses when I was growing up, and a few more in college when we bought my house that my parents rented to me and friends. But this was different. This was a hunt for OUR home. The place we will be for¬†the next decade, likely. New pressures!

 

That Monday evening we had a list of 5 houses to look at, all within a 1.5 mile radius (we were pretty specific with our area of town). The first house we went to had people inside. The broker assumed there was a mixup in his notes, so we agreed to try to see that house later in the week. We headed to the next house and sure enough, people there too! He panicked and worried that he grabbed the wrong stack of papers. We set up a time to go see that house later in the evening and headed to house #3.

 

House #3

This particular house was one I noticed on a friend’s Facebook page¬†this summer, before there was ever a thought of moving in 2014. I remember showing it to my husband who agreed it was nice, but it was off the market so quickly, I never thought of it again. When we pulled up, I realized, it was the SAME HOUSE, back on the market. As we walked up, a lady with long red hair was exiting. Our broker started shaking his head, but she called for us to come up! She was there to mow and was delighted to have us walk through.

 

As we entered, I had a flash back to my college house, “Dudley”. The entryway was almost identical and my heart skipped a beat. We walked through the living and dining rooms, also very similar to my former residence. I ooo’d and ahh’d over the painted woodwork, the large windows, the wooden floors. And then I saw the kitchen — my jaw dropped. Number one on our list: “Large Kitchen”. This one was HUGE! You could see it’d been redone and opened up. There was a bar and counter space galore. At that point, I was done, but we agreed to look at the rest of the house. ūüėČ

 

It Gets Better…

Our guide called our attention to item #5 on our list, “Willing to pay more to not deal with foundation issues.” As we walked down into the unfinished basement, we say that the previous owners had put a lot of money into a system that anchored the foundation! As we came back upstairs, we took a look at #2-4: a¬†large, fenced-in backyard and the¬†garage.

 

We finally made our way upstairs to see the large bedroom, small office and quaint bathroom. The layout was perfect for our little family. As we walked down the steps, I squeezed my husband’s hand and clenched my teeth. I could feel it in my gut; I didn’t need to see anymore houses. My throat gets tight today as remember how deeply I knew that day… This is our home. But, it’s smart to confirm by looking at a few other options.

 

Putting the Nail in the Coffin

That night, we saw 3 more houses. All having tiny kitchens.¬†One had a choppy setup with a tiny backyard and way too many bedrooms. Another was on the north side of our boundary with more structural issues than we’d like to handle. And the last had the tiniest kitchen with living space that just didn’t make sense for us.

 

We walked away from that night, certain of our choice. Best part was that it was the least expensive of all of the options! We decided to take 24 hours to pray about it, but as we discussed it the next morning, we realized God had already answered our prayers pretty obviously! We called our broker and he got the ball rolling for us to make an offer.

 

All Part of the ProcessElk Hunting

Between the broker’s vacation and my husband’s elk hunting trip in the middle of nowhere, it was a whirlwind of a week. But I felt God right there with me through the entire thing. Anytime I started to feel overwhelmed or panicked, immediately a calm would come over me and I’d calmly do the next thing. Thankfully we also had a guide who was well-versed in this whole process.

 

Little roadblocks continually arose throughout the next 6 weeks, but I continued to let go of control. With each bit of information and potential “disaster”, my adrenaline would rev up and I’d pause and actually feel God’s calmness fall on me. I’d be able to take a deep breath and stay focused on the tasks at hand.

control_house3

The Big Day

Finally, it was closing day. Honestly, there were times and situations throughout the process where neither the seller, nor us, were sure it was going to happen. If there’s anything I’ve held loosely in my life, it was this situation. Believe me, it was not easy. But my husband finally got me to the point where I felt comfortable saying, “If we don’t close on time, we’ll get a hotel that allows pets and a large storage shed.”

 

Can you believe I was ok with this?! To me, that is a true testament to what it means to fully rely on God, not myself or other humans, and to understand He has a plan and He knows what’s best for me. I didn’t want to have to move to a hotel and put all our stuff in storage, but I really didn’t want to be a nervous, anxious wreck either and that was the path I would be heading down if I chose my default mode of control.

 

In the end, it all worked out. Wesigned the papers and moved in a small amount of things that night very night. As we stood in our entry way and looked at our brand new empty house, we thanked Jesus for keeping us sane and serene during this unsure time. For allowing us to grow through the experience and walk out the other side knowing Him better. Because of we relied on Him, we enjoyed each step of the way, and we did it all together. Neither of us took control over the other. We were a team — Team Huenink. And on that day¬†we started our next chapter: Homeownership.

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