Jacob's Laddering Technique

Certainly, God can be found in the most unlikely of places, never mind "among the pots and pans."

I made a rather disconcerting discovery today. I realised that when I eat something - particularly something delightfully yummy - I never want my mouth to be empty. I take a bite, chew it up, and then - get this - before I swallow, while the masticated wadge is still in my mouth, I take the next bite! I'm not even sure when I swallow. I must swallow at some point...

The thing I'm trying to say: That action by itself tells me something about myself - and it's not just the first thing you think of. It's the thing you think of that leads to the thing you think of, that leads to the thing you think of, that leads to...

Kind of like a ladder.

Dorothy Rowe refers to this as the Laddering Technique. But, before I go any further I want to stress Dorothy Rowe's warning.

"This exercise seems like a party game, but I must ask you not to use it as such. Many people find it distressing, for even if they do not give you truthful answers to your questions, the answers that do come into their minds can be unexpectedly revealing."

The Laddering Technique involves picking any two or three related objects - they could be as mundane as favourite authors, cars, or music - and asking to choose which you prefer, and why. From the last answer, we ask ourselves the question, "Why is that important to you?" or something similar. And we keep on asking that question until we reach our destination. At the risk of mixing my metaphors, we mind out not to stop at the signposts, but to carry on until we get to where we want to go. In Dorothy Rowe's words, "So, from the [initial choice] we go by way of the question, 'Why is that important to you?' to how each person experiences his sense of existence, and sees the threat of his annihilation."

So, using our opening image, the process might go something like this:

Internal Therapist (IT): Describe your eating habits.
You: Eh, I'm sorry?
IT: Well, do you eat, swallow, then take the next bite? Or do you take the next bite before you swallow, while your mouth is full of chewed up...
You: Okay, that's enough, no, the first one, the first one!
IT: Oh, and what do you find so distasteful about the first one?

And, you're off and running.

Or, it could go this way:
IT: Describe your eating habits.
You: (a bit too proudly) Ah, yes, I like to take the next bite before I've swallowed the previous mouthful.
IT: Okay, that's a bit disgusting. Why would you eat like that?

And so on.

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD. (Genesis 28:12, 13)
Because of my oh-so-holier-than-thou spiritual sensibilities, I like to refer to this as the Jacob's Laddering Technique, because it can guarantee that this method will lead you to God.

We know we have found God when we strike that point where we don't like what we see. We catch a glimpse of our own misery. It is the thing we are ashamed of, the thing we hate ourselves for. But, here's the thing: God already knows it about us. He knows we were ashamed of that thing. He knew all along, and he loves us just the same because he understands. He was there when it happened, he knows how we got like that. He has already forgiven us - there was nothing to forgive - we just haven't forgiven ourselves. And, now is the time to do that.

We will survive, and we will be closer to God because of it - and if we keep on going we can, like Jesus, become one with God. Remember the other thing about Jacob: He said, "I saw God face to face, and survived."

Further reading: The Successful Self by Dorothy Rowe