“What’s Next, Papa?” A Control Freak looks at the REAL Adventureland

By: Jana Greene

Many years ago, my family enjoyed taking a vacation to Walt Disney World about every two years.   After a few trips, I came to learn the” lay of the land” and decided that I would create an itinerary in advance of each vacation in order that we might enjoy the maximum amount of fun mathematically possible in ten or so exhausting hours in the parks.

Never mind that my children (and budget) were small; there were exciting adventures happening everywhere in that place and dadgummit – we weren’t going to miss a thing!

Crafting each itinerary in advance was a lot of work, what with the hours of research spent analyzing the historical crowd levels, taking our favorite restaurants into account and studying the parade schedules

I am not an analytical person normally, but I’m very prone to addictive behavior, and I took each Pilgrimage seriously.   My itineraries became so neurotically detailed (each activity on each day down to a half-hour margin of error) that my family became unwilling to follow my plans.

One day on vacation, we walked into the Magic Kingdom at 9:00 a.m. as scheduled  and my family informed me that they would not be following the plan for today.  Even though the plan clearly indicated that we would visit Tomorrowland first, they started to head to Adventureland, dragging me by the hand.  The itinerary ended up in a wastebasket somewhere near Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

My family’s mutinous rebellion resulted in two things:  everyone had a much better time when NOT following a strict schedule and it became apparent that I am a CONTROL FREAK.

It took the intervention of a cartoon mouse to make me see it.

Knowing the “next cool thing” we were going to do actually had the opposite effect on the Fun Factor.  It was hard to get excited about the next activity when you already knew what to expect.  There was no room for the wonderment of what delightful thing you might just happen across.

As a general rule, I like knowing what is going to happen ahead of time, and I’m happy to help the process along by making lists/itineraries when applicable.  This season in my life is no exception.

This might be especially true when it comes to time and money – the two things that seem to run out the fastest.   I am all too happy to make suggestions to God about what might be the next big step (with subtlety, of course) but I suspect He sees right through me and knows that my suggestions are really just prayerful efforts to control.  I don’t know what is going to happen next, and anytime I think I do – it turns out to have been pure delusion.

But delusion trumps uncertainty in my primal brain quite frequently.  So I pray.    “Help me, God….whatever is next!  And help me to stop trying to help you decide what that is!”

This morning I read something in the Bible that stopped my worry-wart, hand-wringing prayer time today with its simplicity.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.  It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a child-like “What’s next, Papa?”  God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.  We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.  And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance.  If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” – Romans 8 15:17 (MSG)

Could it be that I am missing the wonderment of delightful things because I’m too busy tending to the “grave” thoughts?  Tending to the thoughts of an empty grave at that?  Time, money, the actions of other people – all out of my control, all distractions from the rich destiny intended for me.  What about the Fun Factor?

I’m starting to figure out that it isn’t knowing the next cool thing that’s important; it is trusting that God has my best interests in His plan. It’s “What’s next, Papa?” in genuine adventurous expectancy.

Without knowing the “lay of the land”, without making suggestions to my Father.

And without missing a thing, except for the illusion of control.

 

4 thoughts on ““What’s Next, Papa?” A Control Freak looks at the REAL Adventureland

  1. I loved this post Jana. The Message paraphrase is beautiful. Thank you. I’ll join you in this place of release and expectation. ~andy

  2. I definitely try to control too many details but I’m getting better about it. I was just sharing with someone how I was in danger of taking the fun out of building legos with my son by making it into a complicated project. I’m growing my faith everyday when I trust that its ok for my plans to be written in pencil. Thanks for a lovely post Jana!

  3. You’re welcome! I needed to write it just as much as anyone else may have needed to read it – Its funny, because my tolerance for people who are are controlling is pretty much “zero”, yet my tendency to be a control freak is pretty high. LOL.

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