“Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control.”Proverbs 25:28
Woooooo. Zing. Ya got me Lord.
I was running the other day at the gym, listening to my crappy pop dance party workout music (as one does), and the song I was listening to had the line “lose control” in it. As I jogged in place on the treadmill, I thought to myself, “What a funny thing. The world is all about ‘loosing control’ as if it’s a good thing. As if everyone is too uptight and needs to let go of literally everything and give in to everything they want. This is not what Jesus tells us.”
Control is a funny thing. We all want it. Heck, I struggle daily to let go of a desire to control things. I think it can be a very subtle thing, control. I think sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing it. Sometimes it looks like using a dating app to fill a hole in our hearts that needs to be filled by Jesus. Sometimes it’s counting calories because we put our worth in our weight. Sometimes it’s in saying no to an experience we are afraid of, because of how it might challenge or embarrass us if we fail. Oh control, you sneaky sneak.
Now to be clear, I am not saying diets or dating are bad. I am just pointing out that sometimes we have motives that are not necessarily healthy or truly in our best interests.
It’s interesting to consider the way the world tells us to lose control, versus the way Jesus does. Both say “don’t be afraid to let go”, but the culture really means “give in to anything you want,” while the Lord means “let me lead.” Do you see the difference there? Those are two very different things. This verse from Proverbs, “Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control,” while intense, has a point. If we just let down all of our walls like the songs on the radio urge us to do, we become a city without walls, letting in anything and everything. St. Clare of Assisi famously said “We become what we love.” How true that is! Have you ever noticed that? When we love the things of the world – clothes, money, notoriety – we get sucked into that lifestyle. When we love God, we serve others, as he did. When we love ourselves, we serve ourselves. When we love sugar, we slowly fill our bodies with unhealthy foods, and we ourselves become unhealthy. It’s like this with all things. If we are a city without walls, we let in everything, and we are ransacked and left with nothing but emptiness. We are like a vacuum cleaner that needs to be cleaned out. If the vacuum is too full of stuff, it eventually cannot do anything. It becomes nothing. No longer even a vacuum.
So what does a lack of control look like to God, if in the book of Proverbs we are being urged to control?
Great question gang.
The Lord simply wants you to let go of all the crap and the things that leave you feeling empty. Be filled with him! “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal 2:20) Clare begs us to do this! To become who we love will make us FULL of LIFE because God himself IS life!
How do I fill up on the life of God? Sacraments! Scripture! Prayer! All the holy things. And to have fun and love well. I am then FREE of the things that actually control me! If I lose control the way the culture tells me to, I actually become a slave to sin. I am owned by the choices I make that will likely have some pretty terrible consequences. But when I choose to live a life with the Lord, I am most free. This is because Jesus wants me to be the person he made me to be. And that person? That person is me. That person isn’t who the world wants me to be, or who I think I should be. That person is just me. Me. Me as myself. And in reality, I still have free will. I still have control in the end. I can give that control to God, or I can take it into my own hands, and he will let me.
We have two options: we can model Our Lady – “be it done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) – giving our freedom totally to God so that he can lead us to a life of LIFE, FREEDOM, and JOY in him. Or we can choose ourselves, filling our hearts like a vacuum that can’t stop taking things in, until we are so stuffed we don’t even recognize who we are anymore. We can be “Like a city breached, without walls…” (Prov 25:28) or we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10) with the Lord! It’s totally up to you, and no one can choose but you.
Ashley Ackerman is first and foremost a daughter of God. After that she is the daughter of two amazing parents, big sister to the two best siblings in the world, and Godmother of four sweet kiddos. Ashley teaches high school theology, and she is constantly amazed by how much love God pours into her heart to pour out for her students; each day is full of wonder and awe at what God does for his children. Ashley also loves reading, snow, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, coffee, and breakfast.