There are times in our lives where we end up in a river of bad decisions. One bad choice can lead to another, then another, and so on. When considering these bad decisions, I find it helpful to use the analogy of a dam and relate it to our life. Why do we make bad decisions, what factors lead to them and how can we avoid making them? The following is an extended metaphor outlining that river and the evaluation of the dam, representing our life.

Let’s start with the dam. What is its purpose? A dam controls water flow, provides energy or power, prevents flooding and can be used to irrigate crops. It turns tremendous pressure into something productive.

Next, we look at the top of the dam. What water is dammed off? Lakes, rivers, creeks, heavy rains and mudslides can cause water to accumulate.

What happens if there is too much pressure on the dam? It can be cracked or otherwise damaged. That can lead to a break. What happens when the dam breaks? Tragedy. Flooding, loss of life, towns down river are destroyed and a slew of other damage and expenses.

Let’s extend the metaphor and think of our life as the dam. The water we mentioned can be all our worries. Lakes are financial issues, rivers might be relationship problems, a slow meandering creek is work stress and those heavy rains or other natural phenomena are the swift onset of family problems.

So we accumulate that pressure and our dam breaks. The initial flood of bad decisions can lead to loss of control in life from drinking or drugs. Towns down river aren’t what is destroyed, it is our relationships. Those other damages and expenses take the form of a DUI, non-judicial punishment, divorce, neglect or so much more.

What can we do to stop the dam from breaking into a river of bad decisions? We create another outlet for the water and pressure! Turn to friends, counseling support, a chaplain, financial counseling, spiritual methods, mental health methods or physical exercise. Surround yourself with people who care and want to help. We can stop the river and navigate tremendous pressure into something productive and life giving. As a Christian, I am reminded of a scripture that highlights the type of river God desires, a “River of Living Water”.

As it is written in John 7:37-38, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”