Don’t burn your bridges.
I’ve always heard the old saying, “Don’t burn your bridges.” And in the past few months, while considering to write a letter to the editor about my career decision, I have had many remind me of this adage. During a brief research into this phrase, it’s amazing how it is almost always used in reference to work or career advice. If you get mad and quit your job, you’ll be burning your bridges behind you.
But, is there ever time when you NEED to burn bridges? I think so. It seems the phrase comes from the military action of burning a bridge you have just crossed to prevent the enemy from crossing it after you. According to one legend, the Spanish explorer, Hernán Cortés, used it in a different way when he conquered Mexico. History records when Cortés landed in Mexico, he was faced by a superior Aztec force. He faced imprisonment or death if he returned to Cuba for defying the governor. His only alternative was to conquer and settle part of the land. Some of his men were still loyal to the Governor of Cuba and conspired to escape back with a seized ship. In order to thwart their plans, Cortés went to his own ships one night and burnt them [other texts say he sunk them] on the pretext they were not seaworthy. Retreat was impossible. His soldiers HAD to stand and fight or die. Cortés had taken away any excuse for retreat. Fight or flight, right? The soldiers had to fight because Cortés had taken away the possibility of flight.
Maybe I needed to burn that bridge so I would stand and fight for teachers and students. By writing the letter, I have taken away the possibility of flight in my life. It would be very comfortable for me to return to a classroom in another school, in another county, and silently endure. Bridges DO need to be burned when our past is not where we need to return. Sometimes God takes away the pathway to that area of our life, so we’ll likely not go back easily. It may be more dangerous for us than we realize.
Or maybe I needed to burn that bridge, so I could BUILD a new one in my life. God is building one in me that is not for flight, or for fighting, but for forgiving. It is of extreme importance that I realize that while I may have been done wrong, I am still responsible for giving up the right to hurt someone that hurt me. Forgiveness. It’s not for the other person. It’s for me. I’ve been forgiven so many times, so who am I that I can’t extend the same to someone else? Building bridges in the physical sense takes much planning (study), time and effort. Building bridges in the spiritual sense takes much of the same. Studying the principles the Bible has laid out about forgiveness, giving time in prayer and making the effort to forgive will eventually build a bridge in my life.
Building a new bridge may take much planning, time and effort, but the places that it leads me will be worth it all.