Where Did Baby Jesus Go? Or A Review of Let. It. Go. by Karen Ehman

As much as I like to think my years on Paxil have eliminated all the control freak tendencies inside my little type A head and heart, I suppose I’d be lying to myself and everyone else if I didn’t ‘fess up to the conviction I felt when I started reading Karen Ehman’s latest book, Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. Let. It. Go. by Karen Ehman www.terilynneunderwood.com Seriously, when Amy asked me to join the blog tour team, I really did think, “Okay, but I am so not that girl anymore.  I don’t worry about things and try to control life like I used to.” HA!!! In all fairness, I made it to chapter 5 before I was hit—hard!—by the awareness I still have a few little control issues.  The title of this chapter?

Micromanaging Instead of Mothering

Yeah, ouch.   It’s Christmas time in case you didn’t know it. I’ve been sort of fostering a sense of pride in the fact that all my shopping and decorating were complete before December 1.  In fact, I spent Sunday afternoon, December 2nd, wrapping the packages—in papers chosen to match the tree decor, of course. Let It Go by Karen Ehman book review www.terilynneunderwood.com So, when I sat down Monday to finish reading Karen’s book, I did so with a sense of real accomplishment and confidence that since the first four chapters hadn’t shaken me up too bad, I was going to be home free on this one!  In fact, I had already begun to think of all the friends I have who NEED this book. And then {cue the foreshadowing music of doom and gloom}

But because I so wanted others to see my children behave, I sometimes set unrealistic expectations for my offspring. I expected them to behave in a manner far beyond their years.  (87, emphasis in original)

Let the toe stomping begin!  When I got to the end of that chapter and was faced with the “little inventory of control tendencies in our mothering” Karen had included, I was ready to toss the book in the bag with all the wrapping paper scraps that still needed to be taken to the trash outside. If I had only known the fun had just begun … With the next two chapters titled Hovering over the Home and When Your Schedule Screams (And You Want to Scream Too), I underlined, highlighted, and set the book down so I could pray more times than I’m willing to count. Tidbits of wisdom like these punctured the perfect little facade I’d created for myself:

Embrace imperfect. Don’t take on more than you can pray for.  Say yes because you feel called, not because you consider yourself capable.  Remember that God is God and you are not.

I actually heard my own voice ringing with similar sayings spoken into the lives of others … and realized how I’d failed to practice what I preach. And then the humdinger!  I’d finally made it to chapter ten and was just pages from the end, when I read this:

We compare our reality with the perception of someone else’s perfection.  (190)

Guilty as charged.  I look around at all the ladies in my church with their perfect hair and super stylish clothes and I long to be thinner, trendier, more cool.  I’m so guilty of comparing … and of carrying the weight of my perceived lack into everything else I do. I trudged through the book, thankful for all the grace and humor Karen had included … and got to the final chapter.  Without giving too much away, let me just say, she talks about letting her children and husband have control of all the Christmas decorating.  Remember that photo above with the tree and the presents?  Yeah, my people did not do that.  But my girl, who is twelve and filled with more life and energy than anyone should be without an IV of espresso, does do things like this: Where Did Baby Jesus Go www.terilynneunderwood.com Do you see it?  Because to be honest, all I could see at first was that the manger was empty.  Immediately I started getting frustrated that someone had messed with my nativity, my Fontanini nativity at that.  And then I realized where Jesus was … in His mother’s arms. And I stopped.  I did let it go.  In fact, I didn’t even say anything to the girl about moving Jesus.  I stood there and looked and realized it was a very real picture of God’s invitation to me … to let it all go and rest in His arms. I loved the last couple of pages of Karen’s book.  I love her reminder and invitation to live at the altar.   She reminds us what the altar is:

The altar is where we offer ourselves to God and his service.  Where we commit our lives to his plan … Where we know our place.  And where we give him his proper place too.  God is God and we are not. (214)

And so, I say without reservation, that even though I didn’t think I needed this book, I did!  And even though it was hard to admit how much of a control freak I can still be, I needed to do it.  And at least Karen is funny and makes you laugh at yourself while you’re reading!! 🙂 I’m thrilled to recommend Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith!

C’mon, fess up … How do you struggle with being a control freak??

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  1. Thank you for your honesty in this area. My present greatest struggle with control issues has to do with other family members. I have a brother who has battled depression for more than half his life, and has also attempted suicide, by alcohol and pills in the past. He has recently become a part of my life again after nearly 20 years apart and it has been so hard to visibly see him again. Sometimes he is so withdrawn that it almost is as if- he is already gone; like a shell of a person I once knew. My heart responds- but has not yet learned boundaries- and has yet learned how to place my brother completely into the care of God, whom I have professed to adore, love and trust.. sigh..And I am saddened to realize how seemingly shallow my faith must be- because of this present struggle. It is sooo hard to let go..

    • What a difficult situation, Lisa. Praying you have wisdom as you learn to trust God with this person you love so much. I don’t think this is a sign of shallow faith as much as it is a season of stretching your understanding of how big God is and how much He also loves your brother. Thank you for sharing with me.

  2. Oh, I must confess that I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘control freak’, but just by reading this tidbit I can see that I do have some ‘issues’ where my children are concerned and how I want others to think of them. This has been a long-standing issue and in the past it has caused me to alienate my children. I love them dearly and I must mean it when I say, “I want you to be all you can be” without a hidden meaning (“only if it makes me look good as a mother!”) Thank you so much for your honesty and for your recommendation of this book. I’m adding it to my wish list!
    P.S. – What a beautifully decorated tree!!!!!
    Merry Christmas!!!!

    • Thank you, Lynn, for your kind and honest comment … I suppose we all have those desires to control how others perceive us, right? I appreciate you sharing a small part of your day here. And thank you for the compliment on my tree. 🙂

  3. I LOVE the picture of Jesus in His mother’s arms. 🙂 Having our first begin the journey of college and “future planning,” I am having to let go and just let God lead her. I was just praying about this today, asking the Lord to help me move to a new place as a mother, to encourage and guide, but not to choose. I want our daughter to really experience God’s leadership in this, so I have to be sure I move out of the way!

    • Julie, I love the picture of Jesus in His mother’s arms too … now. 🙂 And I know it won’t be long before I’m looking at colleges and wondering how to change seasons as a mother too. Praying for you and your sweet girl.

  4. This book looks like a great read – I struggle with micro-managing my kids vs mothering them and wanting to control how others see them, me, all of us as a family.


  5. I’ve seen this book pop up a lot on Facebook and on other blogs I read and kept saying, “Nope. I don’t need that book.” However, after reading this I am reconsidering.
    I am a schedule control freak. I like having a plan and if people don’t stick to it I get a little (very) grumpy.

  6. Where do I start???? I am really a control freak about everything. When I started reading the blogs that went with this book, I had to start examining myself & realized that I have a hard time not being in control of what happens in my life…a family trait since I can see the same problem in several family members too….I guess the most outwardly control problem is with my eating…I am such a compulsive overeater. Next, I have such a trust issue with people…I tell myself if I don’t do it it might not get done…I might disappoint someone or be a failure, so, I don’t ask for help very often…that way if anyone gets in trouble, it will be me. If anyone is disappointed it will be me. If anyone is “burn out” it will be me. Yep…I need to read the book. I am now on brain overload realizing how controlling I am when what I need to do it slow down & Let Go & Let God have control of everything.

  7. Ahhhhhh control, doesn’t every mother like to have a LOT of that? My daughter is now married and my son is off to college. I still like to have control but guess what…it doesn’t happen anymore! They are both adults with plans and ideas and goals and dreams of their own. My husband is experiencing some of my leftover control issues as we move into a new smaller home. Struggling daily!

  8. I keep thinking, “I’m so much better than I used to be. I don’t need this book.” And then… each reviewer steps on my toes a little. Yep! I still need to read this book. It’s on my list of books to buy!

  9. Oh yes, I definitely struggle with micro-managing my children!
    For many, many years I also acted as a “gap-filler” ~ a position needed to be filled and nobody was volunteering? Well SOMEBODY had to do the job, so I guess it would be me. Yeah, I’m just recently learning to slow down and say no if I don’t feel called by God to do something. (and I have to remind myself over, and over, and over again not to jump in and fill the gap!).

    Thanks for this review. Your tree is gorgeous, and the Nativity photo is precious!
    Steph @ MomKaboodle recently posted…Keeping Christ in Christmas With the KidsMy Profile

  10. Feeling like I have to get everything done…NOW, especially with the kids’ schooling. Then I end up putting too much pressure on them – so we don’t truly get to enjoy our homeschooling. Instead it’s *hurry, hurry* to the next thing I need to check off my list. 🙁
    Sarah recently posted…The Girl in the Glass by Susan MeissnerMy Profile

  11. Let.it.go – those were my thoughts yesterday after hearing of my granddaughters decision to go live with her mother. Stuggling for 2 full days…my mind swirling with the what ifs..things that may happen, I felt things were totally out of my control and couldn’t even form a prayer. Wanting to control something that just wasn’t in my control leaves me feeling like I am falling into a pit of dispair. I had to finally just place my Trust in the One who sees it all. And I am happy to report by yesterday afternoon I received a phone call telling me she will not be going! Long story short…Yes I struggle with Letting.it go! I need to read this book. PS(the manger scene…PRECIOUS!!!)

  12. God is God, and I’m not. God is God, and I’m not! God is God, and I AM NOT!!!
    We lay at His feet, so he can pick us up and hold us in His Mighty and Loving arms!!!
    Thank you for sharing this post!!

  13. I am quite possibly the epitome of a control freak ; ( that hurts to say, but boy do I have control issues! I’m having a hard time even giving you an example!
    But God’s been showing me lately that really, all I need to be concerned with is controlling myself. focusing on my obedience to Him. It will rub off in all the right places and some I didn’t even intend…
    Striving to stop treating every little thing as a life and death situation and simply focus on the one thing that really is life and death…

    Can’t wait to read this, I know I’ll be blessed! Thanks for the giveaway!
    Nikki recently posted…The Wonders of His LoveMy Profile

  14. I must confess that I attempt to control most areas in my life. My biggest problem area though is in attempting to control my loved ones. It’s hard letting go sometimes and realizing that although you may think you’re in control, that YOU really have no control at all. Took me a long time to come to Christ because of my desire to control everything and it’s a constant battle 🙂 Slowly though, I’m handing more and more over to Him.

  15. Teri, where do I NOT struggle with areas of control?!?! From my family’s schedule to my children’s sleep patterns, I try to control it all! It sounds like Karen’s book is exactly what I need! We have recently been through a very difficult few months in regard to my and my husband’s health, and God has started teaching me the fine art of letting go in the midst of it all.

    I found your site through Karen’s Proverbs 31 site, and I’m so thankful I did. My parents are pastors in Alabama, and I’ve grown up in minsitry. I feel like I identify with so much of your writing…thank you for sharing your ministry! Many blessings!

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