A special note to begin this article: The racial violence of these past few weeks, months, and the past 200+ years in our country is completely unacceptable and I need to and will do better and I hope that this blog post serves as a first step. I want to first and foremost state my support of the Black community, the Black Lives Matter movement, and individuals of all races working together to create a safe and loving world. This article is focused on coming together, but to do that I want to recognize the importance of the brokenness that we are currently in and condemn the acts of hatred and violence. We WILL make this right and I hope that this article gives you a little bit of hope in a very dark time.“
It’s been a week…………………..Racism. A National Pandemic. Violence. Death. Divisiveness. Like many of you, I’ve been filled with every emotion ranging from anger and sadness to noticing the most beautiful kindness of people supporting one another. This week has me thinking and feeling so many ways and I keep coming back to one thing……. Bridges.
If you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks you know that there is a huge bridge you must take to get to the beach and when I was little, before the beach was so commercialized, it was my favorite drive in the world. I watched as we drove over the beautiful blue water and felt the pull of my heart as I left one way of life and headed toward a new one. I poked my head out the window and soaked in every moment of the fresh salt air– the journey across that bridge felt like magic.
As I got older and the Outer Banks grew more populated that picturesque moment of crossing the bridge turned into one of bumper to bumper traffic with people yelling, honking their horns, and just plain angry. Everyone was screaming, no one was listening, and the cars came to a screeching halt on all parts of the bridge. Those that entered the bridge with a positive mindset, quickly found themselves swept up in the anger as the masses with nowhere to escape. We were all trapped.
This is how I feel about our world right now. People are hurt, mad, and angry and completely justified in their feelings and yet they are all trying to get to a place of love, safety, and respect. I truly believe that for a majority of people the end goal is one of good.
Have you ever thought about a bridge? A bridge is symbolic of union, connection, and the journey or passage of one’s life. A bridge has two opposite ends with many braces joined together to create a strong enough road for people to walk, run, or drive on. We NEED people from both sides of the bridge create a strong foundation and then from there we NEED people to start walking. The middle of the bridge can be a bit scary because we are the farthest from OUR side, but if each side walks toward the middle then we can meet in the middle and travel the rest together. We can then learn about each other’s worlds firsthand and leave with a better understanding of the importance of connecting both sides.
I don’t have the answers and I really wish I did, but what I do have are 2 things that HAVE to happen for change.
BELIEVE: Believe with all your heart that “people are trying to do the best they can, where they are, with what they have. “ When I first start studying this belief from one of my favorite psychologist/leadership/inspirational role models, Brene Brown, I had one of Oprah’s “Aha” moments. You see, most people really are trying to do the best that they can. Are there some terrible people out there, yes there are. However, if we walk around suspicious of everyone we meet, we will never be able to build bridges to somewhere new. Choose to see the good in people first – what we believe is what we will see and we need to believe in good.
RELENTLESS PASSION & HUMILITY: Admit when you mess up and keep trying! If is messy for people that look different from one another and have experienced the world different from one another to understand each other so we are going to get it wrong sometimes. When we screw up, we need to apologize and then, most importantly, keep trying. One wrong word or action shouldn’t mean that we give up, it means that we should keep going – it’s the ONLY way that we will make a difference. There’s a Joel Osteen quote that motivates me every day which says ‘What if you knew that you had to go through 32 closed doors before you got to an open door? Well, then you’d come to closed door number eight and you’d think, ‘great, I got another one out of the way!” Please, whichever side of the bridge you are on KEEP TRYING!
I was listening to Pastor John Gray on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcasts and his talk was called “Meet Me at the Bridge” and it perfectly articulates the importance of bridge building. “If you want people to see life from your lens, you need to become relational, relate-able and relevant. And then you’re going to have to do things that are intentional and uncomfortable. Because if you’re going to build bridges, you’re going to have to connect to people who don’t look like you. The bridge says, I don’t understand you, I don’t agree with you, and we may never see eye to eye, but if we are all in the same space at least we can begin the dialogue and conversation that may lead to healing. Come meet me on the bridge, I don’t care where you’re from.”
Once I crossed the bridge to the Outer Banks for the first time I was never the same. The beach was my special place and when we crossed the bridge to return home I was a better person. When we cross bridges with open minds and explore the other side, we will be changed. We will be better. We will be more understanding.
I hope that this week you can meet someone different from you at “the bridge.” I hope that you can engage in conversations that make you uncomfortable AND leave you wanting to know more. I hope that you can find a place in your life’s journey to walk across the bridge to the other side. The world needs leaders more than ever before and I invite you all to join me and be bridge builders – TOGETHER.