Nothing controls us.
One choice is to live with our minds set on what the flesh desires - which doesn't necessarily mean that we are outwardly selfish gluttons who don't care for others. John 2:15-17 describes the world system as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - those desires that feed our compulsion to live life apart from God's power and authority. We can look awfully pretty on the outside and still be far from God on the inside.
The other choice is to live with our minds set on what the Spirit desires, which means submitting to what God wants for us. When we do that, Paul tells us, it brings us life and peace.
The idea of setting your mind on a new path is not unique to Christianity. Any personal trainer will tell you that the main battlefield for weight loss or fitness is in the mind. But this is even more than setting our mind on one path over another. The promise is that if we have come to faith in Christ, then we are "in" the Spirit, or as the NIV translates, "in the realm of the Spirit", and the Spirit then gives us life, and gives us the power to submit to His governance in our minds and in our lives. Learning how to do that, day by day, is what theologians refer to as sanctification. It's the daily process of becoming more and more similar to the character of Jesus, as the Spirit leads us and trains us and shapes us.
And because of the Holy Spirit's presence and power in my life, nothing has to control me other than Him. Not my own bad habits. Not my past choices. Not the way I was raised. Not my fears about the future. Will those things influence me? Absolutely. But as I learn from the Scriptures and through prayer and from others who follow Christ, those influences will weaken and the Spirit's governance over my mind and my life will strengthen.
So, two days away from Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and the promise that nothing that threatens to control me is stronger than He is.
Even my grief.
No, I am absolutely not saying that you, that I, should not grieve, or should ignore the stabbing pain of missing someone dear to us. Or that you should just put on a happy face for Thanksgiving even if you feel like your world has ended. No, a thousand times, no.
But even our grief can come under the governance of the Holy Spirit, as He leads us through it, as He carries us in the midst of it. We don't need to be defined by our grief more than our God. If grief is threatening to drown you this holiday season, lean hard into Him, cry out to Him with all your heart. If you are in Christ by faith, then the Spirit lives in you, and He will teach you how to walk in Him, even with a broken heart.