Many times in life we are faced with circumstances that put us in a position that require us to break ties with a current employer, spouse, friend or business partner. When those times come about, our first instinct is to cut the ties and cut them clean leaving a trail of destruction behind us. In other words to burn our bridges.
We have heard it told many times that we should never burn our bridges. This comes from the idea that when the times have changed we may find ourselves in need of our past relationship and if we had severed all ties cleanly and “burned our bridges” coming back later wouldn’t be an option. Consider the married couple that has children and gets divorced. Presumably the couple had issues that couldn’t be resolved, but that doesn’t mean they cannot get along and rely upon one another amicably. In the end, when one parent has troubles, they can rely upon the other for support in managing problems related to the children. In this way, the children are benefitted and the children are not put at odds between parents. Clearly this is one of those instances where burning your bridges wouldn’t be advised. If for no other reason than to allow your children to grow up well adjusted and with two loving parents.
All isn’t roses when we end a relationship. There may have been personal tensions and problems. We may find ourselves in a position where we want to tell our boss just where he can stick his job and how far to stick it. Oh how overwhelming the drive can be, but in this instance, it is once again advisable to retain an amicable separation. How many times have people went out on a whim, desiring a better job, more pay, etc. and thinking they found it, told their boss “take this job and shove it” .. there was even a song written about it. Deep down, I think we all have a secret desire to inflict some sort of retribution on those who held us back or treated us like so much trash. This desire, no matter how good it might make you feel is typically not the best use of energy. Consider what happens when you find out that the greener pastures were astro-turf. Crawling back to your previous employer after burning your bridge isn’t a desirable experience and it certainly wouldn’t endear your ex-employer to give you your job back. Clearly, it is best to leave under positive terms, at least this way if you ever do need them for something else, they will be more likely to provide it.
After all of this, you have to ask yourself if it is ever appropriate to burn your bridges behind you. In a word yes. However it isn’t in the manner most people would imagine. In the 70’s I made a life change. I decided that I would put away all of my sinful ways and follow Christ. This was a particularly easy transition, the benefits were outstanding, the life I left behind was corruptible and I was headed down the path of unrighteousness … but I made a huge error in judgment. I didn’t burn my bridges behind me. This meant that when my Christian walk became tough, I could turn around and head back to where I came from … and I did. Even in 1990 when I turned back around and crossed the bridge in the right direction, I once again failed to burn that bridge and found myself headed back across it by 2002. It is now 2009 and although I don’t generally make resolutions, I have decided that 2009 is the year that I officially burn my bridges to my past sinful life. I have wasted many trips across that bridge to my past and while the trek back is easy, cutting ties to the past isn’t. How many times have we as Christians turned around and went back to our old ways … the answer is crystal clear … far too many. The good news is that even though we turn back, God will never burn his bridge to us and we are free to cross it. My 2009 resolution to burn the bridges to my old life will undoubtedly be painful and hard, but it is necessary. When I am faced with a remnant of my old life, I must have the resolve to turn away and keep from rebuilding those bridges. You are invited to join me, to burn your bridges to your past ways and live life in the fullness of Christ. Together we can support one another on our Christian path.