Book Review: Control Girl

Shortly after I was married, a friend recommended this book which proved to be very enjoyable and convicting! Shannon Popkin writes in an easy to read style which is very open about her personal struggles with her “inner control girl.” She points out that each of us ladies has a “happy ending” we are seeking to achieve and thus start to herd our husband, kids, friends, and extended families along the path we have decided will take us to the, sometimes ambiguous, “happy ending.” Instead, we must surrender control of our ideal future to God. To illustrate these truths, Popkin pulls out seven ladies from the Bible and identifies each of their battles for control, the effect on those around them, and the not-so-happy result of their manipulation. (note: although most of the examples she gives are married women, the truths presented are very applicable to those without children or a husband.)

(Disclaimer: please examine the King James Version account of each story to verify the details of the stories and the truth of the doctrine she presents.)
I was amazed while reading this book and in the subsequent months how I could clearly see my desire for control. In fact, I openly voiced to my husband on more than one occasion that I realized my desire to respond a certain way stemmed back to my lust for control. Choosing to feel “down” all day for no particular reason (or for a good reason)? I wanted to flex that control muscle to make myself and those around me miserable to the end I would feel powerful. Then, when I decided it was time to feel better, life would get back to normal. Anxious about the baby going to sleep/waking up/not cooperating with my plans for the day? I saw it for what it was—an inflexibility to change my ideal for the day, not taking into account what God had planned for my time. In fact, anxiety in general I have found to always stem back to that desire for control. Next time you find yourself anxious about the future, the past, or the present, ask yourself, “How am I trying to control the circumstances to bring about my happy ending?”

Sometimes, controlling insidiously appears to have a good motivation. I want my family and friends to be comfortable and happy! Think of the matriarch at a family gathering (example borrowed from the book.) She issues careful edicts to each family member and bustles about when all arrive to be sure the stage is set for a perfect time of memory-making, and when anything disrupts her plans, she flies off the handle! Her care was less for what God knew her family needed that day and more for her desired Happy Ending. Ouch!

Even women in ministry are not exempted from this common iniquity, as Popkin describes in her chapter about Moses’ sister Miriam. This section also delves into how women use their emotions to manipulate those around them (see previous personal example.) And we women often like to excuse our inner control girl by enlisting allies in our girlfriends—watch out! Don’t drag your sister in Christ down, but rather let her rebuke you gently and point you to the path of freedom: submitting control to God!

That is the ultimate release for every Control Girl. Submit your plans and dreams to God, trusting Him with the details and the ending. Psalm 37:4-5 says it best, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." I encourage you to pick up (or download) a copy of this book to challenge you in your walk with God!
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Comments 1

  1. Thank you for your insights and recommendations. This is one I will add to my 2021 Reading List.

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