Reprinted from the November / December 2013 issue of “Christian Woman” Magazine.
Recently a friend related a story involving the phrase “build a bridge, and get over it.” That was a new phrase to me, and I found it very intriguing, especially when I thought of the many ways it applied to me. Perhaps it applies to you in some way too.
I reflected on the moments, maybe even hours, that I have spent pondering the upsetting relationships, events or situations of the past instead of enjoying the good things of the present. Sometimes an event that left me feeling slighted, ignored or even ridiculed will creep into my thoughts; sometimes it will pop into my head quicker than a wink.
Some of these moments happened long ago, cannot be changed, and have minimal bearing on today. They should be forgotten, and the people involved should be forgiven. That, of course, can be difficult when you are dealing with people who want to cling to a self-righteous attitude and who never see a need to ask for forgiveness. In such cases, instead of forgiving and forgetting, we need to forget, first and foremost, and then hope for an opportunity to forgive. We need to build a bridge, and get over it.
Building the Bridge
Exactly how do we build a bridge? How can we keep our eyes focused on the things that are before us without turning our heads and looking behind, as Lot’s wife did when she left the city of Sodom (Genesis 19:26)? God has provided the material in His Word to help us build a bridge and get over it – whether it is a relationship, an event or a situation.
The best place to start the building process is with our thoughts. God wants us to think “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report” (Philippians 4:8 nkjv). We might have to stop and examine what our thoughts really are. We might have to question whether what we are thinking is right in God’s sight – then ask Him to give us the strength needed to refuse to listen to the devil.
As we concentrate on thinking good thoughts, it becomes easier to fill our hearts with love – the kind of love that bears all things. Several passages from God’s Word can help us replace hurt feelings with love. Remember that love is something we must actively pursue (1 Corinthians 14:1). “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil” (13:4-5). Serious work is involved in incorporating these traits into our lives, but we cannot build a bridge without them.
Setting aside anger, rude behavior and envy will take some self-discipline on our part. Denying any selfish ambitions will not be easy either, but it is necessary. The bottom line is that we must put the good of our “enemy” (the one who has hurt us) above ourselves. “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink” (Proverbs 25:21). By doing so, we are reminded that we will “heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:20). In other words, we will destroy an enemy and make a friend.
Once we cross the bridge, it is important to leave the past on the other side. Yes, it will always be there while we are here on earth; memories and feelings are not easily erased. But we cannot let the hatefulness of the past become a part of our present lives. Instead of being controlled by our feelings, we must let the love of Christ control our actions.
“Getting over it” means making a conscious effort to be kind, going the extra mile to put joy into someone else’s life, and being patient with those who just don’t seem to understand. In the book Bad Childhood – Good Life, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who hosts a syndicated radio program, quotes one of her radio listeners as saying: “Try to transcend and learn from the negative, turning those experiences into something good, true and right. Most importantly, trust in God.” Trusting Him and reaching out to those who have offended us will go a long way in helping us leave the past behind and enjoy the blessings of the present.
Experiencing the Joy
Joy and peace are aspects of the Spirit’s fruit, which is produced within us as we walk in the light (Galatians 5:22). But joy and peace cannot come to us unless we can learn to love, learn to put Christ in control of our lives, and learn to transition from the earthly to the heavenly. We must take our thoughts and actions from the physical realm and transport them to the spiritual realm. We must build the kinds of bridges that can take us past forgiveness and on to joy, and then get over them. o
Lana Davis of Crossville, Tenn., is a retired teacher, having spent 40 years in the classroom. She is actively involved in several organizations promoting historical research and enjoys travel, painting and crafts. She and her husband, J.C., are members of the Crossville Church of Christ.