I have this weird love for bridges. It’s not about the beauty or the stucture, really, but more about them being good places to hide – to go and sit beneath near the water where one cannot be easily found – and think.
In my ideal world, I would have secret bridges that nobody knew about where I could run and hide and meet Jesus. The two of us would just sit. There wouldn’t need to be words, with Him. He would know why I ran there and He would know what I was thinking.
But here’s the thing about bridges…. Some bridges just need to be burned.
When I first started being overwhelmed with a flood of darkness and terror that had somehow been locked up deep inside of me, I did what anyone would do.
I ran. Hard.
There wouldn’t have been enough bridges in the world that could have crossed the ocean of pain in me.
And in the running, I started burning down bridges. Bridges to friends who didn’t understand and who turned out to not be friends at all, bridges to neighbors I used to chat over fences with, bridges to extended relatives who pressured me to be “ok” and to keep pretending that all was well in our family….and eventually I was strong enough to burn the bridges to the ones who were responsible for the darkness that had swallowed up my life.
It’s easy to burn bridges to people when you’ve never really been attached to anyone or anything.
All I did was light a match and walk away. That was it – no remorse, no second guessing, no sorrow, no feelings of loss.
Then, when I reached a stopping point in my healing some years later, where I was ready to pack it all up and stop remembering, I did it again. I burned bridges.
This time I burned bridges to pieces of my own heart.
Parts of me that were too in touch with the pain, too knowledgeable about all that was left uncovered, pieces of my heart that were too vulnerable, too unhealed, too broken still…..I just lit the match and walked away.
And for ten years, I never looked back.
A few years ago as I moved back into this current season of remembering and healing, I looked around at my life and I realized that there was NO ONE in my life who was safe or would understand. It’s not their fault. I had spent a decade constructing and perfecting this “me” that didn’t have “that” past. To suddenly fall back into PTSD and trauma I knew had been there but never shared with anyone seemed out of the question.
But this time I tried. In that decade my heart had learned a little about attachment. I had a few “close” friends I did not really want to lose. So I was honest with two people. I told them of my past and of the pain that was invading my soul. I was terrified to tell, but I did it.
And they walked.
I was devastated. They could not accept this “me” and they, like my abusers, pressured me to pretend that I was not this person. They wanted me to put a smile on my face and act like my life was not falling apart and they did NOT want to hear about the pain that was threatening to drown me. They bailed and my heart was shredded.
I had a hard time burning those bridges. It took me three years. I finally did it last week. After three years of being pressured, I got brave and spoke my mind, and then I lit the match and I stood there, this time with the awareness of the presence of my Savior holding me in the burning.
Today, I was looking back on all of these bridges I have burned and wondering if I should regret burning any of them.
And then I saw it like this – If I had kept those bridges, then I would be free to go back the way I came.
The thing I’ve noticed about burning bridges to toxic relationships is that the people back on the other side do not want you to burn the bridge. They want you to cross back over and pretend that there is not an ocean of pain between you.
If I hadn’t burned those bridges to my abusers, I could easily find myself in their clutches again. Actually, that happened the first time I tried to walk away without completely burning the bridge…..And if I hadn’t burned the bridges to all of those fake friendships, then I could at any point easily decide to slip back into living a fake life of never being known, betraying my own heart.
And I don’t want that – I do not want to go back to any of it.
I am done with pretending.
And I am glad I burned all of those bridges right down to the ground and let the wind scatter the ashes.
It’s a little scary here – this cave that I have been camped out in for 3 years. If I step outside the cave all I can see in one direction is a lot of burned bridges. But I’m not sorry and I am not afraid because Jesus knows I love bridges.
And He is an excellent carpenter and builder of bridges.
And I see Him now. He is quietly working away on something. I sit and He builds and neither of us need to say a word, because He knows why I’m here, how I got here, and I know what He is thinking.
He is building bridges, both backwards and forwards.
He won’t build any bridges backwards to anything I have needed to leave behind, but He is so mercifully and graciously building bridges back to pieces of my own heart I left behind that always deserved to move forward with me from this place.
And He is building bridges forward, to places I’ve never been before. I don’t know exactly where they will lead me, but I know that He will be there with me.
And He will sit with me underneath them when I am too afraid to cross them, and all I can do is hide, and He will know what I am thinking, and He will know the fear in my heart, and He will quiet me with His presence. We won’t have to talk. We will just sit there together, watching the water go by, feeling the sun warm our faces as it shimmers off the water.
And when it is time to cross, He will go with me.
And if a bridge needs to be burned after I cross it, He will hand me a match.
And it will be ok. Because He will build another. And another, and another, until He leads me home.
Forward. Burning bridges that need to be burned. And crossing each new one as I’m ready, with His help, until He leads me home.
Friends, burning bridges that need to be burned is a good thing. Don’t be afraid. Let Jesus hand you a match, hold you in the burning, and then take His hand and walk forward.