Don’t Face Your Midlife Crisis Confusion Alone

My Lost Son
There is a small patch of woods with a little creek running through it behind our house. Sarah and I sit on the back patio and let the kids play around in there sometimes. We can hear them but can’t always see them because of thick underbrush. They throw sticks in the creek, get caught in brier bushes, and build makeshift bridges over the water. Meanwhile, Sarah and I have some much coveted one-on-one conversation.

On one such occurrence, our conversation was interrupted by our six-year-old yelling, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!”, to the top of his lungs. Bear in mind, he’s fifty feet from our backyard. Quite calmly I responded, “What is it, son?” He yelled again with bit panic in his voice “I’m lost!”

Only Jathan Scotte Maricelli, II could get lost within a stone’s throw from the back door.

Lost in Life
Scotty wasn’t really lost. But sometimes we do get lost. Really, really lost. I’m not talking about lost in a forest or an unfamiliar town on vacation. Sometimes we get lost in life. We’ve reached a point where we are wandering through life completely without direction.

In such times we no longer know:

  • Where we are
  • Where we are going
  • What to believe in
  • What NOT to believe in

Besides this we don’t know:

  • What to feel
  • What to do
  • Whom to become
  • Where we might wind up.

All the while we can’t shake the dull ache in our soul that things could spin out of control if we don’t find direction soon. The dull ache is not wrong. Which is why we need a shepherd.

The shepherd is not lost. He knows the way. As long as we follow him out of the fog we’ll be fine. If not…

A Lost Legend

I recently read an article on Tiger Woods by Wright Thompson of ESPN entitled, “The Secret History of Tiger Woods”.

The subtitle sums up the message of this post.

It says:
The death of his father set a battle raging inside the world’s greatest golfer. How he waged that war – through an obsession with the Navy SEALs – is the tale of how Tiger lost his way.

This well-researched piece is both compelling and tragic. A man who once swaggered down the gallery-lined fairways of Augusta National now limps up and down the stairs of his empty Florida mansion. This once-powerful, superstar athlete and celebrity icon now languishes on the outskirts of sanity. Talk about losing your way. Michael Jordan says of his lost friend, “He has no companion.”

The fall started ten years ago when Tiger lost his shepherd.

Earl Woods was Tiger’s supreme voice of influence in his life. His shepherd. His north star. In fact, Earl was the ONLY voice in Tiger’s life.

Once the father’s life burned out in 2006, the son began to wander off course. Left to his own devices Tiger proved incapable of making quality decisions. In the end, a decade’s worth of bad decisions ruined his body, career, and legacy.

The tragedy is that it didn’t have to be this way. Not at all. A shepherd could have prevented this calamity and preserved Tiger’s dominance. Many tried – his friends, his agent, his coaches. Throughout his downward spiral, however, Tiger refused to listen to anyone. He never replaced Earl’s voice in his life. I guess he thought he didn’t need a shepherd anymore.


Traversing the ever-changing landscape of life without a shepherd is always a bad idea. Tweet: Traversing the ever-changing landscape of life without a shepherd is always a bad idea.


You may know Shrek as the green guy that sounds eerily similar to Mike Meyers. But the Shrek of whom I speak is a sheep that decided he didn’t need a shepherd. Feigning the annual 10-minute shearing sessions, Shrek bolted from the flock and hid out in the caves New Zealand for six whole years. The fugitive Merino was quite crafty. He was also quite foolish.

This is what he looked like when he was finally apprehended:

Some highlights of Shrek’s bender are:

  • He was carrying 60 lbs. of wool. Sheep are supposed to carry 10 – 15 lbs. max.
  • His hooves were damaged due to the extra weight.
  • Getting rid of his waste was a problem. The pain and stench must have been awful.
  • His eyes were almost covered with wool, impairing his vision.

The bottom line is that avoiding his shepherd was personally harmful to Shrek, life-threatening even. Just like it was for Tiger Woods. Just like it would be for you and me.

And there is never a more volatile time to go shepherd-less than in a season of confusion.

I’ll never know what it’s like to command a golf ball like Tiger (Believe me, I’ve tried…not happening) but I have known his confusion. This season is perplexing and often a by-product of life changes. The greater the change, the greater the confusion.

I became confused when I looked around one day and suddenly had three kids, two jobs, and emotions that I didn’t recognize (in previous articles I referenced my battle with depression  and mid-life crisis.)

Although these changes happened over a period of five years, it seemed all at once.  Within this span so much had changed in my life that I didn’t recognize the person I was for my first thirty-five years. Some days, it was as if I was living someone else’s life. Very confusing.

The danger is that if you stay confused long enough, you’ll eventually lose your way. And making decisions when you’re lost often leads to self-destruction.

This is why we need a shepherd. For the shepherd is not lost and calmly leads us to safety. If we listen.

Who’s your shepherd?

Finding My Way
I’m not clear on absolutely everything in my life these days but I am certain of one thing. I’m not lost anymore. I don’t have that rudderless feeling throughout the day. My spirit is settled. I’m sleeping through the night again. My course has been corrected.

I would love to tell you that I worked my way out of this fog on my own. Perhaps this blog would get more views if it included a five-step-plan for finding yourself. But the truth is that it only took one step.

Following my shepherd.

Surrendering your life to another’s guidance is brutal to the ego but kind to your future.

So to my shepherds out there (you know who you are), I’ll never be able to repay you enough. You didn’t let me stay lost.

What about you?

Who’s your shepherd?

I would love to hear your comments below. Have you every been through a season of confusion? How did you find your way out? Are you still in it? Do you have a good shepherd story? Are you alone in your struggle?

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