Guest Post by Rachel Williams
I’ve always liked mazes. Corn mazes, ornate hedge mazes around castles in Europe, superhero mazes in coloring books. In Tennessee, where I’m from, corn mazes were a frequent part of fall festivities. It was fun to feel lost in a familiar place, to see the field from the outside, a line of trees at the far end, and then enter the maze and feel that it is acres larger than you thought. As a kid, it was thrilling.
But when life starts feeling like a maze, that’s a little different.
Somewhere along the way, I picked up this perspective on decision-making: You’re walking through a labyrinth of high dark-green hedges. At the center of the maze is a prize, like Harry Potter’s golden cup. Scattered all throughout the maze are treacherous obstacles and clever traps. When you come to a fork in hedge, you can go right or left. Or perhaps it is one of those horrible scenarios where the maze opens up to a clearing from which eleven different paths branch. You must choose a good path.
Enter advisors, friends, books, the Bible, prayer, authorities, anxiety, journaling… you get the idea. If you fail, you will lose that golden cup. Life success, closeness with God, effectiveness, relationships, other people’s lives perhaps, and who knows what else, could be at stake.
During the past year, I have made several major life decisions. I quit my ministry job, which I had expected to be my thirty-year career. I left my solo apartment and moved in with two strangers in a city where I knew hardly anyone. I started a new job, began freelancing, and applied to grad school.
Needless to say, I’ve done a lot of thinking about decision-making.
I realize that everyone is different, with a unique story and personality. I’m sure there are a host of reasons why people may struggle with making decisions. Here are just a few discoveries I’ve made as I’ve thought about this maze perspective, how it translates for me personally, and why it is so toxic. A new way of viewing life can change everything.
Perfectionism or A New Creation
The maze perspective is essentially perfectionism. It says that making every decision perfectly is a way to retain love and establish my identity.
A new perspective says that my identity is secure and I don’t need to prove anything. I imagine a little kid sitting upright in a straight-backed chair, hands folded, saying to his dad, “Don’t worry, I won’t move. I won’t do anything wrong.” The father responds, “I want you to go out and play! Build a fort, skin your knee, play with Jordan next door, get in a fight with him, and come running to me!”
The point is, I am God’s child no matter what and he made me not to check every box but to experience life with him.
Little God or Big God
The maze says that if I make a big mistake, it’s all over. Everything is destroyed and there’s no coming back. My life is in ruins. Essentially, God is no match for me when it comes to the outcomes of my life.
A new perspective says that God is big enough to bring beauty out of smoldering ashes. He’s always working, always sovereign, and ultimately, he gets the last say.
Of course, this brings up the question of God’s sovereignty verses my responsibility, something people have debated for centuries. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just know that this God, holding time and the universe together, is the one holding my life.
Over-Analyzing or Peace
The maze means a sickening self-analyzing until I’m exhausted. Have I prayed about this enough? Have I thought through all the outcomes enough? Have I checked all my motives? It’s like standing in a cloud of mosquitos, always trying to make sure none land on you and slapping them if they do; impossible!
Turning my focus to look at my good Father brings freedom and peace knowing that, while some deliberation is good, it’s okay to just make a decision and move forward.
Rigidity or Creativity
The maze infuses fear and perfectionism into my whole life, zapping creativity. I have found that it’s difficult to be anxious, stressed, and perfectionistic, and be highly creative at the same time. Immersing oneself in the creative process requires risk, whimsy, and play. It means venturing into the unknown; starting something and not knowing where it will take you. It means letting the process take over, forgetting what time it is, and having fun.
The more I let go of perfectionism and become delighted with God, the genius behind this crazy, colorful world, the more I’m able to create.
Fear or Hope
The maze says that the future is a scary place. If I make the wrong decision, I may experience regret and emotional pain.
Fresh perspective reminds me that I will, indeed, feel negative emotions during my life. That is a normal part of being alive. And because I am human, I will fail sometimes. Probably often. But God will still be with me in the midst of whatever I go through. He is my hope, my comforter, my strength, my safe place. I don’t have to live my life paralyzed by fear.
Pride or Gospel
In essence, the maze perspective forgets the gospel. If I’m trying to be perfect, perhaps it’s because I’m forgetting my story. I was a terrible mess and he was my only hope. He took me as his daughter, made me new, and loves me always. He knows me well and doesn’t ask for perfection. He simply asks me to be with him.
Because all of this is about relationship with God rather than performing for him, it’s also okay to feel fear and to struggle with perfectionism. I am human. This new perspective just means coming to him with all of it, over and over. All of my questions, confusion, fears, hopes, perfectionism, guilt, and excitement. Remembering that he is good, he is wise and in control, he has been human before, and he knows how to speak to his children. And he is the best writer of stories. This makes decision-making a little less like a scary maze and more like an adventure.
Rachel Williams is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She enjoys finding new coffee shops, watching “Our Planet” on Netflix, and making friends with strangers’ dogs along the sidewalk. She is passionate about helping others experience wholeness and depth in relationship with God.
The Gorgeous Life is about all the facets of female life in Christ Jesus. You’ll find tips to cultivate glowing health, be more present and alive in your relationships, develop inner and outer beauty, and laser-focus your sense of purpose in the world.
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