Slippery slopes can be a lot of fun. As a kid I used to love zooming down water slides, sand dunes and just your normal everyday playground slide. They were safe because there was nothing dangerous at the bottom.
But what if there was, or that you were not too sure about what was down there. Perhaps there could be a quagmire, or a thousand hungry crocodiles.
Perhaps others may have been down that particular slippery slope before and barely made it out alive. Poor moral choices can lead to a ‘Slippery Slope’ experience of destruction.
The top is always connected to the bottom.
As an adult now I still have an inner child that needs holding back from foolish behavior, and as an adult we don’t always see the potential end result of some of the choices we make. What we need to do is build some fences at the top of the slope to prevent the disaster. Fences of habits.
Some of the slippery slopes are extremely obvious, but then there are those slippery slopes that are less obvious but potentially more dangerous to life. The slippery slope of anger, gossip, avoidance, control.
Slippery slopes come in all shapes and sizes. What are yours?
7 Keys to help you prevent a slippery slope slide to destruction.
1. Listen to the inner child that the sirens call out to.
There are some deep subconscious parts to us where we are still a child.
I’m talking about those areas where I still long for attention or love or comfort or any number of other things, just as a child would with its parents. No one comes out of childhood perfectly formed. We have all been let down in someway or other. Every one will have some inner child areas that only the Masters (Jesus) love will complete.
The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God. Bruce Marshall
It’s to these areas that the sirens call out. A siren was a mythical creature of amazing beauty that would sing out to passing sailors to come to them. The danger was in the rocks below.
What is that inner child being drawn to’ and why?
I think of those with addictions and wonder what need does this addiction in some way go to meet a need in their inner child.
2. Embrace your human fragility.
You’re not as strong as you may think you are. We admire the tough rugged warrior going through boot camp, pushing through obstacles and overcoming fear. The beauty queen who is also the ‘perfect’ mother married to handsome Henry.
Behind this reality TV show makeup is a humanity that is fragile and that will break under enough pressure.
The one spiritual disease is thinking that one [is] quite well. G. K. Chesterton
When you embrace your humanity you accept that you are vulnerable. You don’t have a bullet proof vest around your heart and you will make choices that will be regretted later.
3. Understand the power between the magnet and the steel.
As a kid I use to play with magnets. I would place a magnet near a piece of steel and watch a totally invisible force pull them together. Then I would see just how far apart I could have the magnet and the steel before the irresistible force pulled them together.
When you are playing near the edge of a slippery slope external forces out of your control can suddenly take over. The bottom is always connected to the top.
Gordon Macdonald writes this.
My inner-space exploration taught me that the evil within me is not going to go away in the present time. However, with the appropriate energy, a gift from God’s Spirit, it can be managed. But while the capability of inner evil to upset things will be checked, it will not be obliterated.
I must learn to be aware of evil and vigilant for its attempts to betray me much like I might carefully monitor a chronic infection that can be kept under control if I am careful.
The evil within is matched by the energy of evil in my outer space. The two forms could be said to attract each other.
The inner comes in a spirit of rebelliousness; the outer in the form of attractive temptations, usually appealing to aspects of my emotions, drives, and intellect that will give a hearing.
The “deep” within us subtly calls out to things of evil about us, and the two entities feed on each other. Gordon Macdonald
4. Seek out ongoing Soulcare.
We were never meant to walk this journey of life alone. I need you and you need me. I wonder though if in our relationships we ever go beyond the surface of life. Do we really engage with the deep soul issues of each other.
Being a pastor, having a recognised role as someone who delights in the ‘cure of the soul’, has brought many people to my door. The door was open for the exploration of the deep needs of the soul.
I think the greatest need we have these days are people who are gifted and skilled in exploring behind the facade of the obvious.
It will always be those who know the slippery slope well. They have embraced their humanity and are willing to walk alongside you reflectively and point out some potential danger zones.
5. Take responsibility for yourself.
It would be foolish for the steel to blame the magnet for them joining together. Yes the magnet has its pulling power, but was is only attractive when the steel comes near enough to be drawn together.
Being self responsiible means to be responsible for the self. Owning our choices, not blaming others. It is accepting that our choices to skirt near the edge of a slippery slope led to the pain at the bottom.
In the story of the Loving Father (The prodigal son) the son takes full ownership of his slippery slope journey to destruction.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Luke 15: 20-22
6. Create other options
What are some safer options that would in some way meet those deep inner child needs. What is it deep within your soul that you are hoping to have met and which could be met in healthier and holier ways. Form habits into your life that will see those needs being met in a consistent way.
By doing this you will create your lifestyle to be shaped by truth and not lies.
7. Practice the ‘walk away’
IFTTT is a very cool little application for collating information on the internet. It stands for IF This Then That. If something happens, then this will be the response.
Its like a trigger. If I can see a ‘slippery slope’ experience coming close then this is how I will respond. I have practiced it and I know it by heart.
Another little technique is E+R=O. Event plus Response equals Outcome.
In this case we know long before the Event occurs what our response will be. We practice it and we might even role play it with others so much so that it becomes second nature to us.
In conclusion we are all vulnerable to the slippery slope. The top is always connected to the bottom. With some wisdom, planning and soulcare we can build some strong fences that will prevent disaster.
Quesitons to consider and leave a comment.
- What slippery slope experiences are obvious to everyone, and what are some that are not, yet can be equally disastrous.
- Which of the seven keys is the most difficult for you and why?