Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)
TITLE: Atlas Has Left the Building
By Denene Humphrey
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I am a recovering control freak. When this personality flaw was initially revealed to me, I have to say that my first reaction was sadness. I would sigh and say, “Lord, I am already so messed up, and now you’re telling me about this!” You may also notice that I was a tad bit miffed. You see, I have spent the great majority of my life in pursuit of perfection within myself and all I survey. I have dedicated an enormous amount of time, effort and energy into making sure that everything in my life (and also in the lives of others around me) was ‘just so.’ Nothing in my life was allowed to be out of place or dirty. That included my hair, my eyebrows, all things makeup and clothing related, everything in my home, my family and my job. I lived by the well-known motto, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” PERFECT.
It’s said that the first step to recovery and making a life change is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Now, I must say that I didn’t want to own this one so quickly because I couldn’t see how being perfect could actually be an issue. Perfection is beautiful! No flaws. No imperfections. Perfection stands up to the most scrutinizing critique and comes out, for want of a better word, PERFECT. How could that be a bad thing? Well, here’s how. Constantly striving for faultlessness was almost killing me. I was a ball of stress, nervousness and anxiety, and those are just the emotional problems. Physically, I was tired all the time and the stress kept my lower back in pain. If it wasn’t just right I spiraled downward into self-pity, anger, frustration and depression.
I was obsessed. I was a madwoman on the verge of collapse. It was my belief that I could solve any issue. I have often told family members that they couldn’t make any decisions without me. They needed me to make choices for them, and I was ever ready to reign out advice and make the choices for them. I placed myself in charge of things that in no way concerned me. I forced people to celebrate birthdays. After my parents died, I was the one who said where and how the family holidays would be spent. In fear and desperation I worked with extreme zeal to make myself indispensable to others so they would have to depend on me. On the surface, I may have appeared to have had it all together. I looked calm, peaceful, well dressed and made up (remember the eyebrows!). Inside, though, I was like a simmering volcano waiting until all the variables were just right for me to explode.
Now, you may ask, where does Atlas fit into all this? For those who don’t know Greek mythology, Atlas was one of the Titans – an immortal. He took part in a revolt against the Olympians, and Zeus’ punishment for his crime was for him to hold up the heavens on his shoulders and bear the weight of them forever. Wow. What a startlingly accurate description for how I was living my life. I was under the false impression that I was the one who was holding all things together. Not only that, but I was actually proud of the fact that I, and everyone around me, thought I was capable of doing and handling everything. I was Atlas, with one glaring disparity; Atlas didn’t want to hold up the world, but I did. How arrogant of me!
I know now that arrogance wasn’t my only dilemma. Thinking I held the world together caused me to believe that I was God. In retrospect, I have to admit that I didn’t set out with the goal of becoming a self-proclaimed deity. It happened through a series of wrong thought processes with the dominating thought that I could perfectly control and perfectly sustain my life and my own environment. I was wrong. I stated earlier that I am a recovering control freak. With God’s enduring love, faithfulness, mercy and incomparable patience I am on the road to health and wholeness. I have acknowledged my problem and am, moment by moment, learning to surrender and trust God. Plus, I’ve grown weary of carrying the heavens on my shoulders. Perfection and the responsibility of holding up the heavens are God’s jobs. Atlas has left the building.
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