Mazes are confusing and frustrating emotional predicaments that I have found can crop up and confront me any time and any place. They are tangles of misdirection, lost directions, and time-consuming snarls of irrelevance. Most strikingly they are usually made up of all the commonplace elements of human relationships and of daily life that have somehow gotten out of hand and become heavier and more cumbersome than one ever expects them to be. I found to my shame and horror that these emotional struggles may lead even to hurting close friends and family members. The effect is often for me to tend to fall into despair and spiritual dismay along with lethargy and defeat, but the tendency is also present to disbelieve my own helplessness and make frantic and ineffectual efforts to find my own way out. Who wants to own up to inadequate life skills--though clearly that seemed to be my “problem”. On the other hand, going to so-called experts or apparently competent others usually gets me into areas I have never been and never wanted to be.
Having repeatedly bumped my head on problem situations that I kept somehow bringing about myself, my thoughts turned to the many words I had written in past times about self defeat and self damage. These ideas matched in many respects with the words of the wonderful Pastor Lewis B. Smedes, whose work on unrecognized shame and guilt, deserved and undeserved, healthy and unhealthy, I finally read. I had both, of course, which is usually the case. That great man of God, or at least his written word, made me acutely aware of my need for saving grace—where I would be accepted, welcomed and not rejected, as I had often covertly felt would be my lot if my problems were known. This also firmly reminded me that I cannot do it by myself. I needed to accept the Lord and his life-giving grace in order to get on with my own life.
How wondrous it is that once awareness to the Word is opened up, confirmation comes from all sides: The fine Pastor C.D to whom I tuned in this Sunday morning pounded out a powerful sermon on the fallacy of permitting our emotions to direct our lives! I had in fact written and spoken many words on the importance of using our God-given brains and our knowledge of Scripture to direct our lives—not our feelings! Feelings are present in all our lives, they are very important, but they should never be in the driver’s seat. Once there they will invariably drive us to self-defeat and self-damage.
That I had forgotten my own words was a bit unsettling, but having lost sight of my ever-present need for the Lord in my life and His saving grace, which I now so earnestly seek, was earth shaking! At the same time it has been my liberation from out of those mazes of defeat and damage. To attain the “Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me” is not usually a one shot cure, but it is the beginning of a wonderful process” which includes the need to accept oneself, as Dr. Smedes reminds us, along with the joy of being on the right path at last, to freedom.