When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference. God is the gratuity of absolutely everything. The space in between everything is not space at all but Spirit.

(Feast of Lady Julian of Norwich)
Be a Bridge Over Brokenness

by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

All of us are broken.  All of us have experienced broken relationships.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  We cannot exist outside of relationships yet we somehow always seem to stuff them up.

I am sure you can recall many such times.  The gulfs and the gaps between you. The huge painful silences.  The road blocks, the impasse, the deadlocks.  When words have been said and can’t be taken back.  When actions have hurt and wounded.  When betrayals and rejection has created gulfs and chasms.  How do we move on?

Sometimes the gulf is so big it is impossible to cover.  Sometimes the water is flowing so deeply it is impossible to cross.

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As followers of ‘The Way’ we are called to be bridge builders.  It is in human nature to step back, take a side and dig in.  We retreat to our corners when we are hurt.  It is part of our fight and flight DNA.  When  Jesus came he bridged the gap.  He became the ultimate bridge builder.  The Way that he taught us to walk is counter intuitive.  It goes against our nature.

We want to defend our position, to explain and to blame.  Jesus teaches us to reach out, to extend our embrace and to be a bridge over the brokenness.  He became the ultimate bridge when he made a way for us to connect with the God of the Universe.

His ways are ways of gentleness and peace.  He came to lead us into the pathway of peace.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He came to bind up the wounded  and to heal the  broken-hearted.  As followers of The Way of peace we are to do the same.

The only answer to brokenness and ruin is reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and love.  The bible talks about these as fruits of the Spirit.  This is the demonstration of the Holy Spirit living within us.  The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith.  When we lead with our embrace, when we step out in peace and love and gentleness then we become bridge builders.

We become the bridges over the brokenness, bridges that make a way for others to follow.  These steps of faith fly in the face of everything we know.  We want revenge but instead we must be patient.  We want to demonstrate how wrong the other party is – we must walk in peace and faith.  We want to rage and rant – we must show self-control.  We want everything to change immediately – we must rest in long-suffering and play for the long game.

Bridges are nothing more than disciples of Jesus.  He knew that we would have trouble in this world.  He also knew a way for us to flourish and prosper in this world and that was  the way of love.

Who is this Jesus:

If I were to summarise the teaching of Jesus it would be two words only:  love and forgiveness.  Two thirds of Jesus teaching is about forgiveness. Forgiving an imperfect tragic world. In Jesus we have a God who does not blame, does not punish, does not threaten, does not dominate. We have a God who breathes forgiveness (Rohr).

All the betrayals, the abandonment, the torture, the unfaithfulness of almost everybody.  Instead he identifies forgiveness and peace with his very breath – constant, quiet, unlearned – but always given.  

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Each time we extend love, joy etc.. we make stepping-stones over the chaos.  Each time we chose patience and self-control we pave the way for peace.  As we become bridge builders we create pathways for others to learn and to cross over.

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The worst punishment you can do to a person is to cut them off.  Cast them out.  Shun them.  Rejection by someone who loved you is hideously painful.  Stress is bound to occur as a result of rejection since human beings are by nature creatures that wish to belong, which Browning (1996:169) portrays as follows:

‘Humans have social needs to belong to, cooperate with, and sustain the groups to which they belong.’

I know because I have been excommunicated from beloved family and dear friends.  It is a cruel and excruciating torture.  Even worse is the inability to reconcile.

Estrangement from family is among the most painful human experiences.  Social rejection occurs when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all members of the group as a form of solidarity. It is a sanction against association, often associated with religious groups and other tightly knit organisations and communities.

Social rejection has been established to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture

Stress resulting from Trauma and Disappointment

The stress resulting from a traumatic encounter cannot be overlooked, hence this opinion by Estardt (1983):

“Studies about stress show that expectation is an important factor in how a person will experience stress. Stress is often the disappointment ratio of the difference between the expectation and the reality”.  (Estardt 1983:149)

Often in a relationship breakdown the stress and trauma is around disappointment.  The loss of hopes and dreams.  There was an ‘expectation’ that this would be our life, this is what we do or how we would live.  Or it could be about a parent or person who has disappointed you.  If they really loved me they would do this or say this or behave like this.  These unmet expectations create disappointment, fractures and stress.

Thus a gulf forms.  Who will make the first move.

How you react and respond in these situations will determine the future outcome of the relationship.

There are of course times when reconciliation this side of heaven will never happen because you cannot control the other side.  My shunning is outside of my control.  I can wish for reconciliation, work on my healing and attitude, but I cannot force them to relate.

There are however many less extreme cases where you can be the one to build a bridge.  You can be the one to take the first step and lead out in peace.

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The beauty of this is that you are teaching the children and those coming behind you how to walk in the way of peace.  Your stepping-stones eventually become a highway of relationship.  The out reached hand, the embrace, the first steps eventually become a bridge upon which others can walk over and live in peace on both sides of the divide.

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Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

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