Power Grab

Hands Drowning 1

I couldn’t find her. My eyes frantically scanned the nearby waters, as I swallowed the panic rising in my throat. My eight-year-old daughter was there, playing with her friend, one second. But now, she was gone. Just…gone.

It was probably only 10 seconds. Ten. eternal. seconds.

“Where is she?” I’m not sure if those words actually made it out of my mouth or if they were just shouting in my brain.

By the time I took two steps down the dock toward I don’t even know where, I saw her pink life jacket break the surface. Coughing, sputtering, splashing, she wiped terror from her face. Relief flooded every cell in my body as she made her way over to me, putting on the best brave face her eight-year-old self could muster.

The water was shallow only feet from her. She had on her life jacket. I was right there. We were being safe. (Because if I am anything as a mom, I am safe.) I had done everything right. But none of my precautions stopped her from being silently swept under the floating trampoline that was anchored near a little drop off. And there she was briefly trapped, kept under water by the heavy floating rubber.

She looked at me, eyes like saucers, “I thought I was going to drown, Mom.”

I died a little that day as I was reminded, yet again, that no matter how many boxes I check, I am not in control. I mean, is there any reminder more vivid than one that involves your child’s life?

Control is an illusion.

It’s not mine to possess. I know that, and though I sometimes act differently, I take comfort in that. I am absolutely relieved that the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, and good God has a plan. And it’s a perfect plan. And He is ultimately in charge. No surprises come His way!

What a weight off my shoulders, right? Yet even though I don’t really want to, I somehow cannot resist creeping toward control and hefting just a little bit of that weight back on myself. I still unconsciously grasp for it in my preparations. I still unintentionally strive for it in my planning. I still instinctively behave as though life’s outcomes are somehow hanging in the balance of my decisions and actions.

Drawing a line between doing my due diligence and relying on my own measures to make everything okay—that’s hard for me. And God knows it.

How do I know He knows? Because He keeps having to remind me like he did that July day.

My adult life has been an ongoing lesson in letting go. Every so often, God, in all His goodness and love, reaches down…and slaps me upside the head.

Those loving slaps are so humbling. And some of them are also very painful. But they do get my attention. And ultimately they lead me to a place of gratitude and peace.

Despite my continued resistance to fully letting go and my easy attraction to that shiny illusion of control, you know what?

God never gives up on me.

He keeps molding and shaping me…working that good work He started in me. The good work He promised to complete in me. But man, has He got His work cut out for Him!

I am currently reading Lysa Terkeurst’s latest book, Uninvited http://uninvitedbook.com/. (Such a great read, by the way!) In the second chapter she lists three questions for us to consider as we grapple with rejection in our life. They are three questions that I should stop and ask when it comes to just about every struggle in life, including the issue of control:

“Is God good?

 Is God good to me?

Do I trust God to be God?”

I can enthusiastically shout a sincere “Yes!” to all three questions. And I truly, honestly, wholeheartedly believe God is good and good to me, and I trust Him to be that good, good-to-me God. But then my scaredy pants flesh starts getting nervous. And that old, dead nature inside of me forgets that it is dead and starts blindly fumbling around for some sense of control, false as it is.

And once again, my actions belie my growing faith.

These words of C.S. Lewis (quoted by Lysa in Uninvited) could be my own:

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

Can I get an “Amen!”? Isn’t that sentiment just spot on?

Sometimes God’s reminders to me, through the events of life, have been gentle. But there have been some that left me reeling. Some that quite literally changed my life…how I relate to people, how I view this world, how I parent my children, how I approach every single new day. Those are the ones that usually hurt.

I don’t like those. At all. All my humanness wants to do absolutely everything I can to avoid that kind of pain.

And the threat of that kind of pain is usually what prompts the resurgence of the futile power grab.

The thing is, whether these lessons come from something God directly brought into my life or a circumstance of this broken world that He allowed into my life—every one of them has not only served to remind me to lean on Him…but each has persuaded me that leaning on Him is not only good, it is best. It is the only place there is any true peace. And they have all convinced me of His unwavering goodness.

I don’t know what today or tomorrow holds for me or for those I love. I know for sure it won’t all be fun or pleasant. I know that some of it will hurt more deeply than I can fathom, because I live in a world marred by sin and decay.

None of us are immune to the pain those things cause are we?

But each of us is promised that God works all for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).  You and I are counted in that group!

In my own life, He has proven to me, over and over and over, that——–

His good is the best good.

Even when the good comes through the pain.

I’m afraid I will have more moments when I slip toward self-reliance, when I lose track of who is actually in control. I’m afraid I will continue to need reminders that jolt me from a false sense of security. But I know God is faithful. And that He can use those jolts—big and small—to land me smack dab in the middle of His grace and peace.

He loves me. I can trust Him. He wants me to let go. To hand over control. To lay my anxiety at His feet. To surrender to His goodness.

He wants me to stop scrambling and obsessing and to remember: while the dark surface of the water might swallow my baby girl from my sight, it cannot hide her from His eyes.

Praying you’ll join me in this journey of trusting in His goodness!

Your (Learning to Grab Less) DoAhead Friend,


About Dana Boyd

Dana is a lifelong lover of words with a passion for sharing stories of the heart—both her own and others. Her writings draw from her experiences as a woman, a writer, a wife, a mother of three, and a Bible-believing Jesus follower. She is a defender of truth, an avid proponent of common sense and a recovering (often relapsing) perfectionist still learning to lean in to grace. Her writing is an honest outpouring of her introverted heart, driven by a longing to inspire others to feel deeply, think critically and act compassionately. Dana shares her words as a monthly contributor at DoAhead Woman.


  1. Control is an illusion….that one statement says volumes!

  2. His good is the best good! So true.

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