On a large piece of paper, draw a big circle. Leave room at the top, bottom, and sides between the circle and the edge of the paper. Within the circle, draw another circle about half the size of the first circle. Label the bigger circle “Can’t Control” and the smaller circle “Can Control.”
Now, list in the appropriate circle what comes to mind when you think of each category. For example, in the “Can’t Control” circle, you might write, “other people, the weather, or the past.” In the “Can Control” circle, you might write, “my diet, the music I listen to, and how much TV I watch.” The goal is not to list every possibility, just what is most significant for you right now.
This simple exercise can profoundly impact your life if you embrace it. Acknowledging what you can and can’t control not only focuses your mental and physical effort but also helps you realize struggles that are weighing you down. It’s also an exercise you can return to whenever you’re feeling weighed down by a specific situation or just by life in general.
God is in Control
To take this exercise even deeper, write one of the following verses at the top of your paper above the circles and one at the bottom below your circles.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
These verses remind us that God knows the future. He has plans for you to be successful, to flourish, and to thrive. As we turn our energies toward what we can control, we decide to trust God to handle that which we can’t control.
Partnering with the Lord
We can also trust the Lord to partner with us in the areas we can control. To remind you of this truth, write the following verses on your paper, one on each side of the circles.
“The mind of a person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
We are to make plans but allow God’s will to shape our lives. This partnership comes both as we learn to know ourselves better through reflection like this circle activity promotes and then through allowing God to refine us as we interact with him in his word and in prayer and as we worship and connect with his people through fellowship and accountability.
Realizing what you can and can’t control can be immensely freeing. This simple exercise can help you let go of past hurts, forgive yourself and others, and move toward personal victory. Take a small step toward trusting God more today by drawing two circles on a piece of paper. Then, take the next step. Small steps will add up over time to make a huge difference.
Sample circles before listing specifics: