Burn One's Bridges
- Literally to cutoff the way back to where you came from, making it impossible to retreat.
- Figuratively to act unpleasantly in a situation that you are leaving, ensuring that you'll never be welcome to return.
- Figuratively to make decisions that cannot be changed in the future.
I’ve always heard that expression used in a negative way. As in, don’t ever do what it says in definition #2 above. It is usually associated with “leaving well” when you left one job situation for another or in making big decisions, but leaving your options open. I think, for the most part, that is prudent sage advice.
Lately, however, in a world that is so uncertain, where fear and safety seem to guide so much of our decision making and bold declarative movements forward seem to be in such short supply, I think it requires that we do some burning. In a culture where failure (the necessary playground for true growth and change) is not considered an option and a truly transformed life and situation is a rare commodity, cutting off our retreat is often a good idea.
A young friend of mine was recently vacationing in one of his favorite places in the world. Like most of us, an extended vacation allows the appropriate time to truly unplug, take inventory of your life, and find some “bigger picture” type of clarity. Unlike most of us, however, he was at a significant juncture in his life, where making a bold move with his family was truly the right option for them.
He and his wife were in complete agreement that moving their young family to this new territory was the right decision. But before he left to return home, his realtor and family friend gave him some truly profound advice.
Make the decision before you go.
Effectively, burn the bridges behind you. Buy a house in the new place. Apply for a job. Let your current employer know. Put your current house on the market.
Cutoff the way back to the place you came from so that it is impossible to retreat.
The necessary ingredient in making bold declarative moves, it turns out, is not certainty, but faith. And faith is the necessary ingredient of courage.
- Knowing that nothing escapes His hand.
- Knowing that He has overcome this world.
- Knowing that nothing can separate me from the love of God.
- Knowing that He makes beauty from ashes.
- That all things work together for good.
Making bold moves (not the relatively minor ones that most of us make that result in little change) is how we find a deeper life in God. We learn to know Him more in the unknown of our decisions and the resulting consequences. That is kind of the point right? If we remove the risk and add every contingency to make sure there is no opportunity for failure, where is the need for any kind of faith?
Likely, the important byproduct of burning our bridges in this way is that we unknowingly invite others to do the same. We woo them into a life of courage, change, and most importantly, a deeper faith in God. My life and family look really different from a few years ago. It has required that we:
- Burn bridges behind us in some situations.
- Sever all ties in others.
- Develop a faith and resulting courage that we did not know previously.
I think that kind of movement is not only the stuff of changing your own life, but others. Hopefully, the future generations of my family included.
- What is the source of the unsettled and discontent heart inside of you?
- What is the bold, declarative, and risky move you must make?
- How will you and others be tested, changed, and inspired in the process?
- Are you ready to burn some bridges?