I love to play FreeCell Solitaire on my laptop. I tell myself that I play to keep my mind keen as I age and that all the strategizing sharpens my mental skills. But I think the real reason I’m continually drawn to this card game is because I can control it.
Every single game of FreeCell is winnable and if I find my strategy isn’t working or I don’t have any more legal moves, I simply hit CRTL-Z. I “undo” my past turns and make other choices until once again I emerge a winner (current win streak is 779).
You know what CTRL stands for, right? CONTROL! Yep, that’s why I love the game. I’m in control and if the game gets out-of-control and I might lose, I simply take control a new way and make everything turn out the way I always wanted it to. It’s the perfect game for a perfectionist like me who loves to be in control and who hates to lose!
Don’t you wish life had a CTRL-Z button? You could hit it and go back and change a behavior that put you or your loved one at-risk for your particular diagnosis. Or you could tap it and head to the doctor sooner for medical tests. Or you could strike those two keys and find a way to stop the very first cells from dividing so rapidly and becoming cancerous. Or at the very least you could type that command and undo all the treatment side effects. Somehow, some way, you could control a situation until everything turned out just the way you wanted.
Mary, a member of my morning cancer support group, vividly recalls the out-of-control feeling brought on by her diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer, just 19 months after she was widowed.
“My husband was gone; I retired Feb. 3 and got diagnosed Feb. 27,” she says. “It was the one-two punch. The shock just hit me and I was ready to die.”
Not only did Mary feel out-of-control, but the cancer looked out-of-control, as it already had spread to her liver and bones.
However, within a few months of starting chemo and radiation, scans showed the disease was responding. The liver spots disappeared, the bone lesions stabilized and the lung tumor shrunk by half. As I write this, she has been a survivor for more than six years.
“I could just squeal, I’m so happy,” she exclaims. “I’m so grateful to God every day.”
Despite her good quality of life, Mary still lives under the shadow of an incurable cancer as she wonders what the future holds for her.
“I have my moments when it’s hard,” she acknowledges. “But my peace comes from knowing God has a plan and He’s way smarter than I am. If I don’t understand it now, I will later.
“We all pray that we get our own way and we think we know what’s best, but He is the one who does,” Mary says. “I know that’s easy to say, but it’s not always so easy to do.
“I find myself asking God: ‘Could I just have a little control? I want your will, but could I have just a little of mine?’” she adds with a laugh.
I really appreciate Mary’s honesty and the fact she recognizes the humor in desiring God’s will, but on her own terms.
If like Mary and me, your anxiety comes not from just thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it, I have some good advice for us from Proverbs 3:5-6:
Or as the Message Bible paraphrases it:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Quit searching for life’s CRTL-Z button and stop pretending you can be in charge of it all.
Go ahead and give up the control-stick and declare with the psalmist “my future is in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:15)
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6
Adapted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib
(If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVMU-viTHIw )
I couldn’t decide which song to use, so here’s another one! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Eiv1r5UnE )