Bridge Burning

In this ever-shrinking world you are taught more and more that you should not burn any of your bridges. The idea is that you'll never know when you need that contact, opportunity, and connection again.

I think that bridge burning shouldn't be an absolute. In fact, I encourage it.

The inspiration

In middle school we learned about the infamous Spanish commander Hernán Cortéz and his conquest of Mexico. My history teacher told us how Cortéz's men were about to mutiny against him when they arrived upon the shores because they feared for their lives. Many commanders and explorers with far more men and resources had previously tried to overtake that peninsula. They all failed.  

So Cortéz tried to instill in them the courage they lacked with speeches upon that beach. Yet, it was one action that he took that many point to for the reason to his success. He had his ships destroyed. 

Early historians taught that he had them burned. Others claim he had them scuttled. Regardless of how, he destroyed the only means by which they could escape, retreat, and return to safety. By doing so, Cortéz ensured every one of his 600 men that they only had two choices: Win the battle or die. 

I remember sitting as a 7th grader in that class visualizing those boats up in flames. This man was so bold and he didn't leave himself with an exit plan. He really wanted to get after what he went for. I later realized that he wasn't the only one in history who did that. There were others who sought to motivate their men by burning their only opportunity for survival. Some militaries burned the bridges that they crossed to instill to that army that going back was not an option. They had to march on. Hence, the term "bridge burning". 

Why it should matter to you

You may wonder why you can't win in life. You keep falling back to your old ways when you've always wanted to advance. Some of us go through these phases where we are so inspired to pursue dreams and pursue the things that God has placed in our hearts and we almost accomplish them if not for the fallback plans that we create, just in case we fail. 

How many times will you allow yourself to self-sabotage your efforts? 

You have to realize that some things in life require you to go all in. You have to find the boldness to keep marching because you've burned certain bridges. If you don't burn those bridges that link you back to your old self then you'll always end up in the same place you were before. 

You keep feeling like a failure because you've given yourself the option of retreating. Here I give you just four bridges that some people won't burn, and if you relate to any of these then know you can overcome your fears. If you know someone that needs to read this, please pass this blog post forward to them. 

BRIDGES That you need to BURN

1: The Bridge To Former Bad Relationships

So if you're courting someone or married, then you have no business being connected to your ex. It is astonishing, to say the least, that you should justify the need to remain linked in any way or form to someone you had relationship with that ended. For the sake of the post though, let's review some of these lame reasons (excuses) that people use to keep this bridge open. 

These people often say stuff like, "I need to keep their phone number, just in case." Just in case what? They might need help and you're the only in the world that can rescue them? Stop being arrogant while psyching yourself out. Your 'just in case' is the clause you keep as assurance to return to them if your current relationship doesn't work out. 

Some people go as far as to ensuring that the bridge is still functional. They'll keep in touch with their ex's siblings or friends as a means to remain visible to the ex who may not even care about them anymore. If this is you, STOP IT! 

Out of respect for the relationship that you're now in, you need to burn this bridge down. You need to commit 100% to the person you are with now or do the honorable thing, and let them go now because you can't let go. You cannot have it both ways. Your integrity should never be compromised because you won't make it clear to yourself first, that the bridge to your ex is gone. Successful people have successful relationships that are built on trust and integrity.

2: The Bridge To BitterLand 

This bridge keeps you prisoner to the pain you received from someone else. I've seen many people remain stuck in their lives because they haven't been able to move on from bad experiences. Maybe you relive those hurtful memories on a loop like a bad rerun that you can't ignore. This leads to feeling bitter. You can overcome bitterness.  

When you do not burn this bridge you cannot conquer your life. Listen, I'm not saying it is easy. In fact, you can't do it alone. You need to trust that God will help you through this. You need to keep marching forward in faith and He will heal you as you abide in His love. When you do this, you'll find that the most powerful lighting fluid that can burn the bridge to BitterLand is forgiveness. 

When you forgive every single person that wronged you, that cheated on you, that stole from you, that betrayed you, that hurt you, you begin to make that pain obsolete.  Did someone walk out on you? Forgive them. Did you someone stab you in the back? Forgive them. No matter what someone may have done to you yesterday you can do something today that will free your tomorrows. Your memories of those events won't hurt you. Furthermore, I believe that they can be useful lessons of inspiration that will help you realize "that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according his purpose." Romans 8:28

I encourage you to burn this bridge. It will release the freedom that comes with knowing that you don't have to be bound to that pain anymore. You can be better when you choose to not be bitter. 

3: The Bridge To Past Mistakes

You sign up to go to school. Or maybe you start your own business. Maybe you decided that you would go for that dream you keep having. So you tell your family and friends about it. You invest money and time in it. Yet, for whatever reason, you don't finish. You drop out, close shop, or simply put, you quit. 

Failure. It seems to be a dirty word. It doesn't have to be one for you. 

Just because you failed at something before doesn't mean you have to be content with that result. When you don't burn the bridge to past mistakes you allow the embarrassment of those mistakes to creep over to your head. At the moment when you are inspired to pursue your desires once more fear creeps in and it reminds you that you failed at it already. 

Zig Ziglar once said, "failure is a detour, not a dead-end street." That is the reality that you need to believe. You have to repeat this to yourself everyday: "I failed but that doesn't mean that I am a failure." You have to understand that when you fail you can use it as a lesson to succeed next time.

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”
— Zig Ziglar

Sometimes, people will remind you that you failed. They will snicker at you and maybe sarcastically question your motivation. They will gladly point out how bad you failed the last time you tried. You may need to consider closing that kind of bridge off. You don't need that in your life.

4: The Bridge to Bad Habits

The most dangerous words that you can use against progress are "we have always done it this way." Those words are crippling to any team, to any organization that seeks to grow. If you change the "we" and use the singular "I" then you might be used to saying stuff like "that's how I've always been. I can't change."

You might not be aware of how connected you are to your poor habits. They seem so familiar to you that you believe there is no other way for you to do things. The way you think or the way you do things are often influenced by your habits. 

So destroy those words from your language and you'll destroy your habits. You will make yourself responsible for you behavior. Good habits lead to good results. So begin today by welcoming new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking, and new ways speaking. Most of our bad habits are born out of poor thinking and our sinful nature. 

So this is where you must prayerfully seek wisdom. You want God to reveal what He's working in you. When you say, "Lord, I don't want to be this way anymore. I trust that you will continue Your good work in me," then you welcome positive change in your life. The things you once did won't be the things you do now. That's the power in bridge burning bad habits. 

Create new bridges

Now that you've burned many ugly bridges, how about constructing positive ones? Consider starting new relationships that will foster growth and will inspire you to pursue integrity. There so many positive actions that you can take to help you crossover your fears, your insecurities, your flaws. Make this a priority.

I want to hear from you!

So tell me:

  • What other bridges should we burn?
  • How has forgiveness helped you move forward in life?
  • What things do you need to unlink from? 

I look forward to hearing from you! God bless!