Repairing Burned Bridges

God’s grace given and received repairs burned bridges, dismantles bitterness, and restores peace to the soul.

I love the times when God gives me the grace to step out of my comfort zone so He gets the glory. 

Sometimes that involves a task for which I don’t feel equipped. 

Sometimes it means reaching out to someone either I know dislikes me, for reasons real or imagined, or to someone I have hurt or who has hurt me. 

Either way, it is taking God at His Word and watching Him do “super abundantly more than I can think or ask!”

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The enemy of our souls loves to make us fearful of situations and to take wounds we have received and nurture bitterness in our hearts towards others.  He loves to feed our insecurities and/or our indignation.

But God says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  (Romans 12:18) 

Not peace at any cost. 

Not peace at the expense of Truth. 

But where we are able to take that step and allow God to repair bridges that have been burned by hurtful actions or words; where we can say “Please forgive me” or “I forgive you,” that is where the healing begins not only for the other person but for ourselves.  And that is where God is glorified.

Our God shows His power in our weakness.  He urges us, by His grace, to act and asks us to respond to His promptings. 

Will we ignore and choose to feed our resentment or our apprehension? 

Will we justify our response? 

Or will we, in humility before the Father, act according to His Word and reap the blessing of obedience?

Sometimes that blessing will come in the form of a healed relationship and sometimes it will be realized in the peace God gives simply because we have said, “Yes, Lord” and left the ultimate outcome to Him.

Recently, fear almost got the best of me.  I encountered an acquaintance who had become angry with my husband and I over a situation that we had not intended but had since taken measures to correct.  I knew I needed to speak – God made that clear and I was willing…until she got closer; then fear started to creep in and my desire to avoid the possibility of her anger again almost took over.  

I began to justify my hesitance with thoughts such as “What does it matter now?” and  “Why put myself out there; we are only acquaintances not friends.”  But the Holy Spirit’s nudging continued and I moved towards her.  What ensued was nothing less than more of God’s superabundant mercy.

Understanding replaced anger; a common ground replaced fearfulness.  A burned bridge was rebuilt with a steadier foundation.

I could have turned the other way and continued to nurture an attitude that probably never would have hurt the other person, for truly our paths rarely cross.  But the reality is that the attitude left unchecked would have changed me.  My self protection would clearly have been contrary to God’s call to “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  (Hebrews 12:15)

It seemed like a hard obedience, but it became a gift for us both. Even if her response had not been positive, it would have been good because responding to what God says in His Word is always the better way.

The enemy of our souls loves to take that which we leave unfinished, the small “root of bitterness,” and from it create a chasm by way of an unloving and unforgiving spirit. 

Whatever part we have in the smoldering bridge, we must bring it to the cross and let the grace of God change us rather than let it slowly burn, eventually touching even our closest relationships.

There will be times, as has been the case before for me, that apologies will not be accepted, that another will not allow a passage to be rebuilt, that the relationship will not be restored.   But that is the “as far as it depends on you” part of Romans 12:18. 

As we act in obedience and ask God to bring the healing and restoration as only He can, we are also modeling the grace of God before the other.  It is not our responsibility for them to accept that outreached hand, but it is the call from our Redeemer to us to offer it.

And, if the bridge is restored, we are to be the one to take the first step across and walk towards another for God’s glory and our great joy!

“Only love for Christ has the power to incapacitate the sturdy love for self that is the bane of every sinner, and only the grace of Christ has the power to produce that love.”     

Paul David Tripp


20 thoughts on “Repairing Burned Bridges

  1. Thank you for these words and your story. It reminds me of a bridge that I need to repair that has been broken for way too long.

  2. I can relate. My heart was broken and a bridge was burned a long time ago. Time passed and although the bridge was never rebuilt, it always remained in my heart. I saw her dancing when she thought no one was looking and she still dances in my heart today. I was unforgiving and while I now know it ended up best for both of us, I hope that special person knows that I was wrong in how I treated her and I’m sorry that it ended the way it did. Thank you for your heartfelt messages.

  3. Just one last message to clarify where I was coming from so I am not the lifelong jerk I came across way back when – I lobbied long and hard to go to your prom and it was a great victory when I got my parents to agree. I know I was way late in the game and was asking you to do things that were not nice to others based on the plans you had already made, but I based my expectations on on the life I saw for us going forward – nothing was too big to get in the way. I learned then and there that there is more to life and I thought way too much of myself and my feelings without taking others and their feelings into consideration. I have always remembered that. I was heartbroken but humbled and better for it.

    • I never thought you were a jerk. I apologize because my choice was hurtful; I was a 17 year old that didn’t know what was the best thing to do. I’m sorry you still carry that but know that I always thought I was the one in the wrong in the situation. Though we do learn and grow, I apologize but thank you for your concern to clear the air.

      • You did what was right. I tested you – perhaps that was my role in your life. I was not seeking an apology. Just a release from my guilt for treating you the way I did.

  4. Know with all due respect to you and your family I didn’t mean for this to play out in such a public forum. Just know that if you weren’t so important in my life I would have forgotten about you a long time ago. I just can’t get you out of my head and life.

  5. It’s time for me to move on – finally. Thank you for your gracious soul, kind heart and devotion to God. You are a unique person in such a cold, uncaring world lacking compassion. Keep sharing your faith and convictions. It does make a difference and did in my life.

  6. I’m sorry. I should never tell someone how to be or react. You are your own person so do whatever you want to – in every aspect of life.

  7. So one last observation. After finding you online many years ago and way after the Internet became an option for connecting with people and then reading your blog I thought you missed your calling as a minister for God. But then I realized you were fulfilling your witness/ministry through your writings and observations online in addition to whatever you were doing beyond that. God Speed. Your father would be proud. I will continue to read about your thoughts , convictions, and faith.

  8. Sorry to bother you again but I guess the thing that haunts me the most with my father’s passing was the terror from anxiety in his eyes when he knew he was dying. He was always at peace with, and a man of God, but his humanity and wanting to live was very evident. I always pictured it differently when my beliefs have never been anywhere near as strong. I guess too romanticized a view from watching too many movies like The Notebook. Nothing negative about my Dad, I love him dearly, just witnessing his humanity and dealing with my humanity and my inability to help except in comforting him as he took his last breath and my feeling of helplessness.

    • I have not been on here in a while. I’m sorry to read that what you saw in your father’s eyes weighs heavy on you. I think there are times for believers, when faced with death, that the “unknown” of the process – how it is going to happen – rather than what is to come brings more fear. I don’t know if you dad was in a lot of pain; I know my dad was so his fear came from not knowing how long or how much worse the pain would get. He had things he wanted to do and say, even from his bed – but he was frustrated by and even fearful of his inability to get up, do, remember…

      Movies, tv, music can definitely romanticize a lot of things and we have to be careful not to let them shape our thinking because the reality is so much better!

      In Christ, when we have accepted the free gift of salvation through the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection and said “I’m yours, Lord,” we don’t have to fear what lies beyond the grave.

      We all face fear at times and we have to battle it; we have to ask God to battle it for us in various circumstances – and He will, He does, He has! And we have to talk to ourselves and remind ourselves of what is true more than what we feel!

      As you have said, your dad’s faith was strong – he trusted Christ. I have no doubt your presence at his side in those last moments was a gift and was calming to him. I have no doubt he was glad you were there. And I have no doubt, that in Christ, your dad and my dad opened their eyes in the presence of the Savior – no more fear, no more pain, no more “what ifs.” Their faith was sight!

      You and your family were left to grieve as was I and my family. But we grieve with hope because of Jesus! We can KNOW we have eternal life when we trust in what He did on the cross and the fact He didn’t stay in the tomb!

      We were and are helpless to heal those we love who are sick. We can pray and, yes, I’ve watched God answer and miraculously heal people. But sometimes He doesn’t answer in the way we want. And Hebrews 9:27 reminds us of the reality that, to each of us, death comes and we have to be ready because every person will face judgement. But, for those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, we stand in His righteousness and are not judged by our actions but by His sacrifice. And I am so thankful for that!

      I hope this helps in some way. Praying now for your peace to come from Christ.

      • Thank your thoughtful words. I’m still hurting but what Ibsaw in my father’s eyes was despite his his humanity and was first and foremost a man a God. We all fear the unknown. I don’t know why I ever figured he’d be any different. Thank you for your interest and love.

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