Saturday, March 14, 2009

Burning Bridges

Recently a friend was contacted by an old business associate. My friend started this person in her career and helped her rise to the executive level. Then the protégé made unflattering comments in meetings and was untrustworthy with information. My friend wanted to know what to do after years of separation.

Earlier that morning I had wandered around the grocery store wondering if I burn too many bridges with people. Generally, I give people a few chances. I try to understand the situation if I’m approached with anger or high emotion. I’m accepting of different kinds of people and can put myself in their shoes. I revel in an eclectic group of friends and like to trust them. But if a consistent pattern of bad behavior develops, it’s difficult not to avoid the perpetrator.

Carrying around disappointment and anger can erode your soul. Forgiveness is tough. In my faith journey, forgiveness is the hardest part. However, not forgiving is grievously worse. If you burn a bridge with someone, you have the oppressive task of lugging around the charcoal pieces and can no longer continue your journey in that direction.

During my conversation with my friend, we decided on an email olive branch. Although a small gesture, it was a significant act of forgiveness.

I guess the gnawing in my gut has to do with a bridge that’s rebuilt in a shaky, piecemeal manner. The old level of friendship and trust are never reached. We do it all the time. I can’t help but believe that this really isn’t forgiveness. The bridge is still burnt.

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