Out of control

I’m almost certain that Stanley Hauerwas wrote something about the need to live life out of control. I’m almost certain that he says that nothing makes us feel more out of control than having a child.  I cannot locate either of these thoughts but I’m sure Kevin hargaden will be able to if they exist. 

I have never been more bad tempered than in these last few months.  I dried and put away a saucepan so furiously that I broke the ‘soft close’ mechanism on the kitchen drawer.  I have scowled and cussed at my husband and child, (yes that cute baby).  Rage has surged up within me as unexpectedly as vomit.  I am more than a grump.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot. Trying to understand and control my emotions. And what has recurrently come to mind is the thought of control, or lack of it.  In the past 4 months we have moved house and all our belongings twice, the first time we didn’t unpack because it was temporary and so we recycled 4 bowls and mugs for 2 months.  The second move was into a house that we have bought with a mortgage that will take us till our old age to repay. The house was a mess – we called it a “project”. The first move happened with a 3 month old, the second with a 5 month old. I am not in control.

Then there was weaning – I started back to my studies and discovered that our child preferred to starve himself for seven hours rather than drink from a bottle. For 3 months we tried daily and failed. On the days I was away from him I would be wracked with guilt and worry. I am not in control. And then there’s the fact that he feeds 3 times a night and people look at me horrified at such lack of discipline. Then he doesn’t always go for his naps when he’s supposed to and more often than not he will not ‘go to sleep on his own’. Then I make him some supposedly healthy recipe and he’d rather not eat it. …these moments when I can’t get my child to do what I want him to do make me feel more out of control than almost anything else. And it’s so daily. 

It all makes me mad.  So mad. I am not in control. I wouldn’t mind so much but the onlookers make me panic and feel like a failure. And I am my own greatest onlooker.

I am most angry when I am least in control.  And nothing has made me feel less in control of my life than loving my husband and child. I cannot control what they do and I cannot control what happens to them. 

I get cross when life acts independently of me. At least when a peer acts independently of me I can have a shot at manipulation, but that little 7 month old just doesn’t give a damn.

So maybe this confession is the beginning of my repentance. Something about not demanding it all be my way I suppose. Something about me not trying to be God in my life or anyone else’s.  I guess submitting to living life out of control is an act of humility (something I greatly lack these days).

Here’s to stopping fighting for the myth of control.

Here’s to submitting to living life ‘out of control’.

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7 Comments on “Out of control”

  1. khargaden Says:

    Hauerwas talks about living out of control all over the place. For example:

    “‘Too often, ideals and strategies for “social justice” are but formulas that attempt to make the poor and oppressed better off without requiring anything of us. Thus when we read that the poor, the merciful, the peacemakers, the meek, the persecuted, the pure in heart are blessed, we may well presume those descriptions of ‘blessedness’ apply to anyone who would be a follower of Jesus. But the fundamental question we must address to ourselves as Christians is: How is it that we who are Christians are so rich?

    Furthermore, has our being rich led us to misread the gospel as essentially an apolitical account of individual salvation, rather than the good news of the creation of a new community of peace and justice formed by a hope that God’s kingdom has and will prevail.

    Moreover, the virtues of patience and hope are necessary to be a people who must learn to ‘live out of control.’ While not all senses of ‘living out of control’ are relevant for determining the character of the Christian community, ‘living out of control’ is important in that it suggests that Christians base their lives on the knowledge that God has redeemed his creation through the works of Jesus of Nazareth. We thus live out of control in the sense that we must assume God will use our faithfulness to make his kingdom a reality in the world.

    To live out of control, then, is to renounce the illusion that our task as Christians is to make history come out right.”

    – Stanley Hauerwas, “The Servant Community” in the Hauerwas Reader, 380-381.

    f I had to sum up Hauerwas’ theology of parenting I would say that for Stan, biology is not the primary determinant of parenthood, baptism is. The child raised in the church is raised by the community of people we call church. Hence, it isn’t the mother and father’s job (often in effect the mother’s job alone) to “make the child come out right”. Living in the light of that is what he means by being out of control.

    • transfarmer Says:

      You see this is why I’m practically crazy, because you’re not here to talk sense to me often enough! Thanks for explaining and expanding.

  2. meinmysmallcorner Says:

    You mean you can’t control a husband?!?!? Uh-ohhhhhh…..

  3. Lorraine I am supposed to be addressing the fact that my 3 1/2 year old is still resisting potty-training, not googling Stanley Hauerwas and getting completely side-tracked !!!!

    But thanks, for all of this …

  4. wee frizz Says:

    … i think of this post often you know… I hadn’t realised how angry I get trying to control everything sometimes, until you wrote this. Write more soon please for my personal edification!!

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