Southern Indiana Living

SEP-OCT 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Page 45 of 47

Sept/Oct 2018 • 46 W hen my wife hit the out- let malls, I knew I it was time for me to get lost. We were on vacation in Tennes- see, and she and my middle-school-age daughter had gone shopping for back-to- school clothes. I knew I didn't want to be anywhere near an expedition of that mag- nitude, so I grabbed my youngest and ran as fast I could. But where could we get lost? I needed someplace I could hide where I couldn't be found for hours. I would have fled deep into the mountains, but I saw thunderstorms on the radar. As much I hate outlet shopping, I didn't think it was worth taking a lightning bolt over it. I was about to lose all hope when we stumbled onto the mirror maze. When you're in Pigeon Forge, you can find at- tractions like these about every 5 feet. I had never been in a mirror maze before, but figured this was as good a place to get lost as any. Boy, was I right. The maze looked like a cavernous hall with a million doorways. Of course, when it comes to mazes, appearances can be deceiving. Some of the doorways were real. Others just held a piece of glass you would smack right into if you didn't have your hands out in front of you. The maze was constantly changing color, sometimes going pitch black, making the illusion per- fect. To make things even more confus- ing, we were not in the maze alone. We rounded a corner and jumped as we almost crashed into another dad and daughter coming from the opposite direc- tion. Turns out it just was us. Another re- flection. In fact, we were everywhere. In some intersections, I could three or four versions of us — some close, some far away. At times, it looked like the maze was full of us. That's when I realized the secret: If you want to get out of the mirror maze, you have to move in the direction where you don't see yourself. We glanced down one corridor and saw a path that seemed to go on forever, but no sign of us. That was the way to go. Sure, the maze continued to twist and turn, but as long as we moved away from ourselves, we were taking steps to freedom. Something about that experience seemed familiar. If we're honest, we've all spent some time in the mirror maze in our heads. There are moments in life where we become so focused on ourselves it keeps us from moving forward. No doubt your mirror maze looks different than mine. You may be obsessed with your weight or wrinkles. You may be mired in regret of the past or fear of the future. You may be trapped by bitterness over an old hurt, or lost in a labyrinth of longing for whatever elusive thing you think will make will you happy. Like the Greek legend of Narcissus, we can easily become ensnared by gazing too long at our own reflection. Whether we're in love with ourselves or loathe our- selves, the problem is still the same: We spend too much time thinking about us. The solution? Look in the direction you don't see yourself and go that way. Jesus offered a practical way to do this. He said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind," and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-38). When we focus on God's goodness and spend our time attending to the needs of others, the mirror maze loses its hold on hearts. Worship and service are sledge- hammers to the trap of self. Worship is simply loving God back. It's remembering that he's in control so I don't have to be. It's dwelling on his perfection instead of focusing on my own flaws. It's resting in his forgiveness in- stead of beating myself up over and over again. Loving God frees me to love other people, because it reminds me that the world doesn't revolve around me. That's a good thing. When I'm trying to help someone else, I get a healthy dose of per- spective. Suddenly, my wants and needs don't seem like such a big deal, and I'm free just to be present and enjoy living in the moment. Sure, there's a time and place for healthy self-reflection. Yes, our needs do matter, but the longer we spend dwelling on ourselves, the greater the risk that we will become imprisoned and miss out on the best life has to offer. Take it from someone who has spent way too much time thinking about him- self. Mirror mazes are a fun place to visit on your family vacation, but they are a ter- rible place to live. • Jason Byerly is a writer, pastor, husband and dad who loves the quirky surprises God sends his way every day. You can catch up with Ja- son on his blog at or on Twitter at Lost in the Mirror Maze Everyday Adventures As much I hate outlet shopping I didn't think it was worth taking a lightning bolt over it.

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