For People with bishop Rob Wright

Letting Go… of Control

Bishop Rob Wright For People Album
For People
Letting Go... of Control

About the episode

We know God love us and wants us to know life that is not controlled by fear. What would it be like to get let go of some of that burden???

In this episode, Melissa and Bishop Wright have a conversation about what it means to lay down the desire for control and embrace a life of faith and trust in God. They discuss Peter’s control tactics, Jesus’s response, and the vulnerability we can experience when we lay it all down before God. Listen in for the full conversation.

This episode is based on part 2 of Bishop Wright’s 5-part Lenten series “Letting Go”. Learn more about this year’s series, watch the weekly videos, and download the reflection guides here.


Bishop Wright: 0:00

I’m able to face up to the ways that I have developed strategies that are beneath me so I can exert control based on fear. I can look at all that because I know that God loves me and I know that God wants me, ultimately, to know life that is not controlled by fear. Think about that for a second. What’s the motivation? Oh, my God, what would it be like to lay down some of that burden?

Melissa: 0:41

I’m Melissa Rau, your host, and throughout the course of Lent 2024, bishop and I are having conversations based off his Lenten devotions. This week, we’re talking about the second devotion, letting go of control. The Episcopal Diases of Atlanta has prepared a five-week curriculum for small groups or individual devotions, and you can download the reflection guides and watch the weekly videos by visiting www. episcopalatlantaorg. Bishop, how are you doing?

Bishop Wright: 1:15

Yes, here we are.

Melissa: 1:16

We’re here talking about control. You can go of control this week based off of Mark, chapter 8, 31 through 38., and this is kind of where I think Peter is the one who interrupts Jesus, when Jesus is kind of telling them that what he’s going to be doing, peter interrupts. So I think Peter was trying to maybe control the narrative.

Bishop Wright: 1:41

Well, that’s funny, because that’s what I said. I think Peter was trying to control the man Jesus, the moment, right, and the minutiae. I think he was trying to control the whole thing. So it starts off by Jesus saying to his disciples hey, I understand, and on the horizon is rejection for me, suffering death, but ultimately resurrection. Jesus is just letting it fly right. And Peter interrupts him. He interrupts Jesus and he criticizes Jesus for what he’s saying, precisely when Jesus is trying to talk about the power of letting go. So you got this tennis match going on. And Peter gets called Satan, right. He says get behind me, satan. He says you’re keeping your mind on earthly things and I’m keeping my mind on heavenly things. So what’s interesting about that is Jesus is saying to keep one’s mind on heavenly things is to be doing the work of letting go, of trying to control every outcome. And again, we’re always talking about trust in God. Jesus is declaring hey, I’m going to trust God with everything, all that I am. I’m going to trust God with my reputation. People are going to rise against me. I’m going to trust God. They’re going to do violence to me. I’m going to trust God, they’re coming for me, right? And Peter says whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute, and I think Peter interrupts, not necessarily because he takes issue with Jesus on Jesus’ own little individual journey, but I think Peter is wondering, hey, if this is going to happen to this dude, what’s going to happen to us? Right? So he’s trying to control Jesus and then perhaps control his own outcome. So, and I think about us, we try to control outcomes. Some of us do not you, of course, melissa, but some of us Not at all. Amen. So some of us do, and you know why we do is because we all are battling some pernicious expression of fear, right. And so we have learned that if we try to get ahead of things, try to intervene, try to shave off the edges, try to exert some control, then we can sort of defer, blunt this notion of fear. And of course, fear is always seeking to motivate us, always trying to get in control of us. But I think one of the things we can do in Lent is actually investigate our motivations for control. If you want to get into the deep water. What are my motivations for control? What am I trying to control and who am I trying to control and why? These are not just idle questions, right, but these are questions, not so that we can condemn ourselves or go on a guilt trip, but it’s so I can let go of it.

Melissa: 4:57

And so that leads me to my next question, though, like if we’re able to let go of control. I’m curious if you can paint a picture of why we might be motivated to do such a thing.

Bishop Wright: 5:07

Yeah, of course. So I’m afraid. I want to control others because I’m afraid they’ll hurt me, perhaps they’ll abandon me. I want to control others because I want to use them for resources or some other cause. I want to control others because I want advancement. I mean, it’s really base, it’s really primitive.

Melissa: 5:31

It is, and so I see that I’m curious if you can paint a picture of why might we be motivated to let go of control. Do? You see what you’re saying, like, what is on the other side, if we’re able to do this work of putting it down and laying it down, letting go?

Bishop Wright: 5:48

Right. Well, I mean again, this is the question Well, what do you want? I mean, for some of us, as Fannie Lou Hamer said, some of us are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Some of us have come to the intersection of understanding that trying to control other people is futile. And not only futile but it is wearisome and it is corrosive to real life. And some of us have come to the intersection where we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that ain’t life. It means that I am being controlled by my fears rather than enjoying my life. And it’s about growth and development, it’s about self-revelation and self-knowledge and it’s about courage. I mean, lent is about courage. It’s about taking a look in the mirror and having the courage perhaps finally to name some stuff that we’ve been hedging about, that we’ve been ducking, that we don’t want to admit. And again, we can look at these things because even as I look at all of my warts and my blemishes and the ways that I fall short, I am, with Scripture, reminded that with all the warts that I have and all the failings that I have, I am made in God’s image and God loves me, and there’s nothing I can do to decrease that love, so I’m able to face up to the ways that I sort of have developed strategies that are beneath me so I can exert control based on fear. I can look at all that because I know that God loves me and I know that God wants me, ultimately, to know life that is not controlled by fear, you know. Think about that for a second. What’s the motivation? Oh, my God, what would it be like to lay down some of that burden? What would it be like to lay down some of that burden, these shadows, right? What would it be like to lay some of that down, and, and to smile an authentic smile. You know, and, and, and and this. And to say, you know, an exclamation, you know, with your full-throat. What would that be like? It may sound ideal or naive to some people, and if that is true, then Jesus is naive, because Jesus seems to be inviting us always into a bigger and more fuller expression of life than we can imagine. Maybe Peter was saying, hey, man, you know I can live with the fear, and Jesus is saying, yeah, but why would you?

Melissa: 9:06

So where does, where does power come into play with control?

Bishop Wright: 9:10

Yeah. So I think one of the things that you know that’s a great question. So here’s what our brothers and sisters who struggle with alcoholism know is that there are things in life that we don’t have any control over. So I admit that I don’t have control over certain things, and one of the things that we have to admit that we don’t have control over is Is our pension for fear and our pension to want control. And so one of the things that we get to do is to offer those things up to God. Right, we get to say there’s a resource called the Holy Spirit that we can ask To help us as we struggle, right. And so, again, I always love you know, the template that our brothers and sisters who struggled alcoholism use, because I admit that I am powerless over some things. And, and I admit you know, again, st Paul says you know, I admit the good I want to do I don’t do, you know, and you know. And so I admit that. And so, again, lent is that safe space, brave space, let’s call it a brave space. Lent is that brave space when I can, for five weeks, really just go ahead and cough up all the mucus or At least begin the process, begin the process of saying you know there’s got to be more life than being a slave to my fears, and so, you know, jesus helped me to know what that life is. That’s a simple prayer. Jesus helped me to know what that’s like, and that may involve therapy. It may involve sitting down with some spiritual direction. You know people who are given and have to give the spiritual direction. It may mean sitting down with a minister or someone who’s more wise, spiritual than you are. It may mean lots of different things. It may mean, you know, starting up conversations that have that need to be restarted with some people. I mean, you know, you know the sky’s the limit here. But I think what we’ve got to start off with by you know doing is what is the fear? That really is my personal bugaboo. What is it? Sometimes it comes out of the family, of origin issues. What’s my thing? What’s my thing now? Jesus and Peter in a conversation about life and death right and trusting one’s reputation and all that sort of stuff. And you know I get that right and that’s about public perception. It’s also about, hey, death at the hands of people who hate me is painful, like physical pain. We can. We can deal without. We can put all the intellectual stuff aside for a minute physical pain. Jesus is saying there’s something on the other side of physical pain that is so glorious and so wonderful that I can endure this pain. I will not live in fear of it. Dr King said that we cease being who we really are once we keep deciding to just sort of cower in fear. And Then that you know, once we adopt that you know sort of approach to life, then our later death, our actual physical death, is merely cessation of breath. But we have died a long time ago when we decided to just live cowering. You know to fear and that’s why you know, back in his day, when he was talking to us about non-violence, he was saying that there’s something bigger to be afraid of than physical death or vicious Racists or fire hoses or German shepherds. Right, what is to be afraid of is losing one’s soul.

Melissa: 12:43

Hmm, and so where does trust come into play?

Bishop Wright: 12:47

You, Trust who I mean. One of the things we’ve got to do if we’re going to confront fear is learn to trust our own voice. Learn to trust our own voice, and so part of what it might be is getting down to what is your voice. Sometimes we’ve got mommy’s voice, daddy’s voice, uncle voice and market voice, and we’ve got all these voices right. And so some of the work of maturing, as you well know, is just trying to weed through the voices Right. What’s my voice? Because you are unique to God. God’s unique imprint is on you. God is speaking to you. God has spoken through you, is speaking to you even now. What is God saying to you? And a lot of us have got to find the courage, and so that’s how we work through this. I’ve got to find the courage to trust my gut Right, because and Howard Thurman, here we hear Howard Thurman again. Howard Thurman says is that you and I have got to learn how to listen for the sound of the genuine in our life. And he warns us, he says and if you do not ever develop that capacity to learn the sound of the genuine in you and through you, then you will forever live at the end of strings that other people pull, and so the question is are we afraid of that? I must say to you that scares the hell out of me To think that I’m living at the strings that other people pull rather than trusting the God who loves me.

Melissa: 14:16

Oh, wow, that’s huge. So I just started diving back into family systems a bit and you know, one of the things that was so interesting to me is how, you know, we have like three parts of our brain. We’ve got the reptilian brain and the limbic system, and then the neocortex and the autonomic stuff, the reptilian stuff, the stuff that is gut, it’s instinctual, and then we add the limbic system, which is the center for emotions, right? And how often do we lose ourselves into our emotions and instead of thinking through them, we like, we act and react more like a reptile may rather than, I think, a self-differentiated human being with an ability to make a choice on how we choose. And so when you think about control, bishop, I’m curious about how we pull ourselves together, how we don’t let fear rule. Like, what are the very real, practical things that we can do when fear has got such a hold on us?

Bishop Wright: 15:28

Well, I mean, I think that the real practical things, the best thing that I can say and it’s gonna sound, it may sound simplistic to some people, I think is that you’ve got to decide who can you really trust, right? And so I think one of the things that we’re saying here on this platform is that we know the trustworthiness of God through the life, death, resurrection, teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth, and we’re saying and we’re commending Him and the power of the Holy Spirit as trustworthy. And so we’re saying to people offer yourself to those examples, to those teachings, to that wisdom today, in big and small ways in your real life, is what we’re saying. We’re saying that to want to struggle rather with fear induced control issues in our lives is understandable, right, so no condemnation, shame for anybody, but it is escapable, is what we’re saying. And what we’re saying is it’s escapable through following Jesus Christ. I mean, I’m not talking about some sort of sympathetic tear in the corner of the eye thing. I’m saying full on mind, full on, will close, walk for yourself, not because some preacher told you to open up Matthew, mark, Luke and John for yourself and see and then ask God for the faith to know that Jesus is your trustworthy, not only friend, but Lord. Look at Jesus as a model. Even Jesus in this story doesn’t try to control us. He doesn’t try to control Peter, right, but what he does do always is invite us into a deeper relationship with the one who is the most trustworthy in all the worlds, and that’s God. And so the joy of this is you got to try it for yourself. I mean, I can sit up here and talk to them, orange in the face, right, and the little bit I know and I only know a little bit. The little bit I know is because I’ve taken a step or two in this direction, but thank God for people who’ve also taken a step or two and we get to compare notes about that, because that’s the confirmation and that’s the encouragement. And the thing about this learning about giving up our control and giving up our fear and putting it in the hands of the one who is the most trustworthy is is that we need. It looked one way in the 20s. It looked another way in the 30s, when we turn 40, it looks another way when we decide to share our life with somebody. It looks another way as we get older. It looks another way. As our health begins to decline, it looks another way, and so there’s this ongoing invitation by God to come and to trust and to know that there’s more God than any problem that you’re ever gonna face, and I think that is our witness to the world. Not that we got all the answers right. It’s not what we know, it’s who we know.

Melissa: 18:48

Amen to that and I guess we can let go of control, because God’s got it all.

Bishop Wright: 18:54

Well, I mean, and you said practical right, yeah, and every day is a test of that. Every day is a test of that, and so we may fall short on certain days, but I think what God blesses is, if you and I wake up with that intention, lord, I intend to put the most pernicious problems that I have facing me right now. I intend to put them in your hand Now, god. I may fall short because I’m just frail flesh and I fall short, but that is my intention and every day I’m gonna keep trying that and I might fall down the day, right, but then there’s tomorrow and then I might fall down. I mean, so it’s this ongoing thing with God, and then we begin to develop muscle memory in this regard and we begin to develop our own, what some people in the church would call our testimony, which is my positive experience of having done this and having experienced a benefit to doing this that now I can share with other people. So this is the journey of letting go, and the journey of letting go is really about being free and being buoyed by the Holy Spirit in your real life.

Melissa: 19:55

Bishop, thank you so much, and listeners, thank you to listening to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review and we’ll be back with you next week.