On Sunday May 22, 2011, Rev. Vincent Fuqua addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco California. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
Today I’m going to be talking about control, and learning how to let it go. This is very interesting because, as a lot of you know, I play softball. I had a softball game this morning so I was in my softball uniform when I came here. I was going to change into my other outfit, but the zipper broke on those pants as I was putting them on. That’s why I’m still wearing my softball pants. A lot of people know I tend to be a little more of a perfectionist when I dress. I like to look nice. I was going to go home quickly and change but Rev. Tony told me, “Don’t you dare do that. It’s not necessary. Just let it go and speak.” It’s all about letting things go. Just trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to.
Today I am going to share my thoughts about control. I want to talk to you about how I continue to work on it. How do we let go of these perceived thoughts that we are in control, when in reality we’re not in control. One of the things that I keep in mind is that through out our mirs there’s always things that we think we have to manage. We feel like we have to do things a certain way, our way, otherwise it’s not being done right. At least I know I tend to do that – more than I actually realized.
By preparing for this talk it made me realize how often I do feel like I need to be the one in charge. I do need to feel like things are being done exactly the way I feel they’re supposed to be done. In reality, that is not coming from a good space. That is coming from our ego’s space instead of our one, spiritual place. It’s amazing when you think about control and think about when we try exercise authority over someone else. It’s us, in a sense, trying to direct. At least for me, that’s something I don’t want to do. I don’t want to feel like I have to be the authority figure about everything, and I don’t want to feel like I have to direct everything. That is actually what a lot of us go through in our mirs.
Let’s take a moment and think about these couple of questions. Can we really control what is around us? In this environment that we are actually in, in this world that we are in, can we control that? Can we really control our emotions? Think about all the times you’re interacting with a friend or a family member and things come up for you – anger, a feeling of hurt. Can you really control that? Sometimes we can control it, but sometimes the anger and the hurt comes out naturally. A burst of anger, a burst of sadness, a burst of tears, or whatever – that is just the way it is. Can we really control poverty? That is a big thing that we constantly talk about in our country, people in poverty. Can we control those things? Those are the things that I try to think about. And finally, can we control or relationships? Can we control the friends that we interact with? Can we control our family members: our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, our parents? If you are a parents, can you control your kids? The list can go on and on about how many things we perceive we can control.
A Course In Miracles does not talk about control specifically, but it does teach us how to look at things differently. The Course talks about our perceptions, how we see things. It does remind us that we are suppose to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in every decision that we make. When we do that, we know that we’re coming from the right place. At least I know I am, when I am actually able to see that I’m coming from Holy Spirit. One of the things that the Course says is, “Everyone here has entered darkness, yet no one has entered it alone.” (OrEd.Tx.25.27) For me, that thought stood out, that whole idea about darkness. For me, if I am coming from a controlling place, I am in darkness. I am not in a place of peace. That’s one of the goals, at least for me, that I try to keep myself moving towards.
This made me think of a situation at work. It’s amazing how many things come up for us at work, how many challenges happen, and how often we can use the Course to help us through those challenging times when things come up for us. This specific incident was with one of my coworkers. I’ll set the stage. This individual started about five years ago in our office. I was asked to help train him. So, I started training him, showed him what he was supposed to do. Then we got a new department director. The new director decided to shift things and made this individual, that I had trained, my supervisor, even though I taught him how to do everything. That’s the way things happen. We have to learn how to let these things go. There was always a weird dynamic between me and this individual because he also felt that his promotion shouldn’t have happen that way.
There was an incident that happen about a month ago. I was out to a bar because a friend of mine was celebrating his 40th birthday there, and my supervisor was there. We decided to chat, to catch up. He started to say something. He said, “Vincent, I just wanted to let you know that you stress me out.” I thought, okay. So, I stress you out. I said, “Why don’t you just tell me how it is that I stress you out.” He said, “I don’t want to talk about it right now. We can talk about it later.” The ego in me thought, no I want to know right now! Why in the “heck” do you think I stress you out! I said, “Okay. Fine. Tell me then.” One thing was that I am loud. Okay. Yes, everybody knows that I am loud. That’s nothing new, so no big deal. I said, “Thank you. I appreciate that.” I had to come back with a response. The other thing that he said, which was very interesting, was that he thought that I was bossy and controlling. (laughter) That did not sit very well with me – someone pointing out things regarding issues like that.
One thing I realize now that I could have done – I could have said, “Thank you” and that I appreciated his telling me. What I came back with was, “Yes, I am controlling. I realize that.” But in my mind I was thinking, the reason why I tend to be controlling is you tend not to do anything. You tend to not take charge. You’re supposed to take charge. I do tend to step up, and I do tend to take charge when things are not getting done. That is just part of who I am. We were talking a little more. I acknowledged that I was controlling. Then he stressed the fact that it was not about me being controlling. He said, “It’s really about you being bossy.” So I thought, okay. What I first decided to do was to go back to work the next day, get validation from other coworkers, see if I am really bossy and see if I am controlling. My coworkers tended to side with me against this individual. This is actually not the proper way to do it. All that would have done was create tension in the office. That was about me trying to manipulate the situation, trying to control it to benefit me. I wasn’t taking the time to really appreciate that this individual took the time to express how he was feeling. Yes, it could have been done in a different way. Yes, I could have acted differently. When it happened, I didn’t take time to reflect and ask for guidance on how to respond to this individual. Actually, this was a big lesson and a big opening for me – to realize that in work situations I can potentially become manipulating and controlling. I do realize that I have that trait. That is something that I am definitely working on.
The Course goes on and says this, “For he has come with Heaven’s Help within him ready to lead him out of darkness into light at any time.” (OrEd.Tx.25.27) It was important to me at that moment to turn this over to the Holy Spirit, to really look at this with a spiritual perception instead of my ego perspective. I had to not allow my ego to get in the way, which is hard. I had to actually reflect and realize my part in this situation and not always put things out on the other individual, or the world that we are in. The more I reflected upon it, I realized that my controlling issues that I had with him – and I did tend to control and boss him around – they actually had nothing to do with. They actually had to do with a situation I don’t have any control over. I did not have control of my new department director making him my boss, my supervisor, even though everyone thought that it did not make sense. I had no control over that. I think because I didn’t have any control over that I tried to control the whole situation. There is another thing I realized that I didn’t have control of, because he is my supervisor he gets paid more than me even though work wise, I’m cocky, my job is harder than his. I know that, and people at the office know that. I realized that it doesn’t have anything to do with him. It has to do with the system that I work in.
I work for the city and county of San Francisco. They have these classifications, and they decide whether you are going to get reclassified or not. I don’t have control over that, so I try to control what I think that I can. Unfortunately, for this individual, I tend to take it out on him. I think, “Why is he getting more pay than I am, and I do much better work than he does?” They tend to give me more responsible than him. It was good for me to reflect upon all these things and realize that it had nothing to do with him. It was one of those situations that we can’t control, and so we put our energy on someone else that we think we can control. That was a huge eye opening and awakening for me, to look at this aspect of the situation.
Another place that I realized my issues about letting go of control and being bossy shows up in, as all of you guys know, my being commissioner of our soft ball league in San Francisco – the San Francisco Gay Softball League. Of course since as commissioner you’re in charge of the league of sixty two teams and over a thousand members, you are naturally given the responsibility to make sure everything runs very smoothly. That’s my job; that’s my responsibility. I also have to realize, to make sure as a leader, that I’m not coming at this job from an authoritative perspective. I really try to be as equal as I possibly can with the members in our league. I think usually I do pretty well, but there are times when I don’t do that well. The Course says, “What then is justified? What do you want? For these two questions are the same.” (OrEd.Tx.25.29) I had to look at that because there was an incident. There was this one team in our league, a couple of years ago, and we had issues with them. The team took last year off and they came back this year. I felt, as commissioner, I needed to go up to the manager of this team and remind him how things were a couple of year ago, the issues that the team brought. I wanted to make sure that the former problem was not going to happen this year. Once again I was, trying to contain, trying to control and manipulate that situation as much as possibly.
As the season began I did have to do a couple of problems with the team. I had to raise one of their players out of their team. That created a lot of havoc and a lot of drama regarding that action. Then the player decided to send me an email pointing out that he thought I was picking on him. I was picking on him and his team. Of course, I responded back and said, “I am not really picking on you. I have sixty-one other teams to be responsible for and a thousand other members that I have to keep an eye on. You’re not a high priority on my list.” That is how I responded. Not really the proper way to respond as a commissioner. (laughter) That’s what happens when someone challenges you and you feel like you need to control and manipulate the situation. In reality, what should have happened was I should have allowed the process to happen. I did not need to step in and take this person out. We have a system that is already set in place. I did not allow myself to trust that system because, for some reason, I still had my issues with this person from two years ago. I didn’t allow myself to be present, in the moment, and see him for who he was right then. That was another huge awakening for me, to realize that.
The Course reminds of this, “This world has much to offer to your peace and many chances to extend your own forgiveness.” (OrEd.Tx.25.29) I had to learn to forgive this situation and what I did. I also had to go and talk to this individual and apologize for the way things were handled earlier in the season, to clear it. It was amazing how much more peace of mind there was after I did that. This individual was always afraid whenever I came near him. He thought I was going to have something else wrong that I was going to point out to him. That’s not what it’s supposed to be about. It’s not about having people being fearful of you and them thinking that you are trying to control everything. It really is about keeping people on a equal playing field. That was a challenge. I realized that there was a proper way to handle these problems, and now this team is doing much better. They’re a lot more relaxed, and they don’t feel like the commissioner is going to come down and decide that another player has to move out of their team. That is the balance that you have to look at when you’re the head of an organization. How do you make sure that you’re not doing things in a way that’s creating harm for an individual. You need to do things in a way that’s right for them, trusting in the process, and trusting in the system.
Another thing that I had to go through, that I was dealing with this year, was realizing how we don’t have any control of the world we are in. A big thing happened to me just recently. Unfortunately there was a tragedy that happened in my family. One of my younger cousins was caught in a cross fire. He was 25 years old. He was at a friend’s house and one of the girls ex-boyfriends was very, very jealous and the ex-boyfriend came over and shot up the house. Unfortunately my cousin, who was only 25 years old, was caught up in the cross fire and he was killed because of that. This put a shock wave through my family and especially my older cousin who’s son it was, because it was her only child. This made me think and realize, “Okay Holy Spirit, how much more do you think my family can take?” My family has had a lot of death in our mirs and this is the second person that we have lost through violence. I was questioning that.
An interesting thing was that one day I turned open my Course book and this quote came out. It is amazing how brilliant the Course can be. “The Maker of the world of gentleness has perfect power to offset the world of violence and hate that seems to stand between you and His gentleness.” (OrEd.Tx.25.30) What a comforting passage that was. It helped me put myself in a better place. It helped me be more present with my family when I went back for the funeral service to help with that hard time that we went through, because we don’t have control over what happens. We can be anywhere. Any situation can happen, but the beauty of it is if we take the time and consider what our spiritual practice is, whatever that is, that practice can help us through those times. We realize and recognize that we don’t have control over situations, but we do have the ability to handle difficult situations in a way that we feel is more appropriate for ourselves.
Another thing that has happen, as a lot of you know, after eleven years, my partner and I decided to separate. It was a hard time. It was definitely a difficult time. It was a difficult decision to make. Trust me, my ego was very loud. I did say a lot of very hateful things, and I did lots of things that were not very pleasant. I didn’t like the way the relationship ended. It was not done in the way that I felt was the proper way. But the Course tells us this, “And everyone is equally entitled to His gift of healing and demirrance and peace.” (OrEd.Tx.25.84) So instead of putting my energy in the negativity of what happen, what I decided to do was to pray, ask Holy Spirit for guidance, and to recognize that I can’t control the situation. I tried to control the relationship, in the way that I thought it should be. I tried to control the outcome of the relationship. But in reality, no, that was not my place to be able to do that. My place was to turn my relationship over and trust that the Holy Spirit would guide us in a more healing, in a more spiritual manner, than in a negative manner. The Course says this, “To give a problem to the Holy Spirit to solve for you means that you want it solved.” (OrEd.Tx.25.84) So we need to let go of what we perceive we want to dictate, and give it to the Holy Spirit. Let Him be the one to solve it for us, not us. It’s not our place to do that.
That’s what we did in our relationship. We separated. We both decided to turn it over, and we’re still very, very good friends. We’re still very, very close. People are amazed by that, because a lot of times when people break there’s frequently a group of friends that want to side one and people who want to side with the other. No, it’s not that way because we turned our relationship over. We allowed someone else, an “outsider” in a sense, to be the one to help solve it. We allowed someone else to be the one, in a sense, to take control of it and not allow ourselves to do it because we would come from our ego perspectives. That really doesn’t lead to a good place. For me, all that does is take energy away. One important point is to keep our minds as clear as we possibly can for the positive thing this is in our mirs and not worry about the negative things that seem to come up.
Take the time to think about all the times that we appear to be in control and feel like we’re the ones who are trying to make the outcome. Just realize and understand that we don’t have to do that. It really is important for us, at least for me, to look at my part in everything that happens, to truly understand that I need to turn all things over to someone else. I don’t need to be in control of my coworker. I don’t need to be in control of my softball league. Yes I am the commissioner, but I don’t have to be one of those dictators who says that it has to be done my way. No, it’s really not about that. We can realize and recognize that we do have a variety of different emotions, but can contain them as long as we allow ourselves to stay in a more comfortable and centered place. No, I didn’t have control of my twenty five year old cousin getting killed. That was totally unexpected. We also have to realize that things like that unfortunately happen in this world that we are in, but the key is how do we handle them when they do happen. We have choices. That’s why we are very fortunate to be A Course In Miracles students. That’s my talk for today.
(Rev. Vincent Fuqua was ordained an *A Course In Miracles* minister by the Community Miracles Center in October of 2004. He was the CMC’s 51st minister.) Y
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This article appeared in the May 2011 (Vol. 25 No.3) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members,Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.