Power is a funny thing. As a people, I think we are pretty obsessed with it. We have horsepower, flower power, Power Rangers, the power of Grayskull, and even behold, the power of cheese. But power isn’t just about defining an era or some catchy slogan. It’s about influence and control. It’s about perception and fear. Power is one of those things that is seemingly elusive, just beyond our reach, because we aren’t rich enough, pretty enough, political enough, smart enough, Rothschild enough. Sadly, it’s not just lawmakers and elitists wielding real or imagined power in my life. It’s the everyday people and things. And I am handing it over to them on the proverbial silver platter.
For as long as I can remember, I have allowed people and things to control me. I’m not sure when it started, exactly. A memory that stands out in Memorex clarity is a picture of a tree I drew in elementary school. While everyone else used brown for the trunk and green for the soft, bubbly top, I used purple, blue and red. My classmates delivered the typical and acceptable second-grade version of a tree. I created some bizarre Klimt-meets-Dali tree. My teacher, with half-inch raised disdain-conveying eyebrows, tsk-tsked and told me that art just wasn’t my thing, told me I should stick with spelling and books. And you know what? I did. I allowed her to eternally brand me a “non artist”. I gave her power. Not just in that moment. But still today. A blank canvas nearly gives me hives. And her voices echoes from the recesses of my mind, “Just go read a book. That you can do.”
Did I want to be an artist? Not really. But I would have liked the option. Truthfully, it’s not that teacher’s fault. She probably thought she was saving me from a life of disappointment and my parents from an embarrassed Frigidaire. The whole thing is my fault. I have allowed that moment to keep me from exploring the possibilities of art and doing things like taking an art class or coloring outside the lines. My perception of her power goaded me into complacency, where fear stifles progress and is the norm. I built walls around myself and found comfort in blaming her for my inability to do, or say, or be.
Other things have power in my life. My addiction to tortillas and my hubby’s wings. The way I binge-watch certain TV shows. Books (buying and reading them). Office supply stores. I hold on to my addictions and idols, and those voices from past and present who reside in the approval-hungry sector of my brain, for fear that when I am stripped of them, I will have to stand before God and myself in my nakedness and say, “This is who I am.” Will I like who I see? Will He?
I don’t want to use these people and things as crutches for not being or doing or saying anymore.
When I was with Lady Di and Cori on Saturday, I came up with an acronym for taking the power away from people and things and putting it back in the only hands that are capable, God’s.
P: Pray it. Ask God to help you identify the people and things you are letting control you.
O: Own it. Once God has revealed them to you, own them. Don’t blame or point fingers anymore. You have given them power. They didn’t take it from you.
W: Wrestle it. Figure out your plan of attack, your strategy for taking down your opponent. As we know from Jacob’s wrestling match with God, we won’t leave the mat unchanged. We might walk with a limp, but, praise God, we will have a new name!
E: Explore it. Get to the root of why you gave these people and things power so you don’t let it happen again. This step will probably take the longest. Be patient. Write it out. Talk it out. Pray it out.
R: Remove it. You’ve done a lot of digging to expose the roots, the last thing you want is for them to get re-established. Cut out those roots. Don’t let them weigh you down anymore.
In those last moments, before Jesus’ crucifixion, He faced Pilate who, in society’s eyes, had power. He could have overturned Jesus’ conviction. He was frustrated with the situation, with Jesus, and certainly with the angry mob, demanding he answer to them.
“Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” (John 19:10)
He dangled his false sense of control in front of Jesus as if it were something to be admired and feared, even appreciated.
Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above.” (John 19:11)
Only God gives power. Only God has power. Not my second-grade teacher. And certainly not tortillas.