Back in January, my husband and I took a trip to San Francisco to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. At the time, we didn’t know a global pandemic would follow just a few months later and that that would be our last time enjoying the City by the Bay with such freedom.
We are runners so our favorite way to explore is by checking out local trails. We started out on a cool, blue-sky morning on the paved trail just under the Bay Bridge. We ran along Embarcadero Street past the Ferry Building and all the piers, past the Aquarium of the Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf.
And then it came into view — that majestic bridge that makes San Francisco famous: the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a 4,200-foot suspension bridge that spans a mile-wide strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This bridge is an international symbol of the city and of California and is considered one of the Wonders of the Modern World.
Shawn and I stopped for a break and gazed out at the great, poppy-red bridge before us. I couldn’t help thinking about how bridges serve a truly important purpose. They make a way. They connect one part to another. Bridges provide a passage across a divide.
Isaac Newton once said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” When we are too busy building walls with our words, our choices, and our social media posts, I am convinced that what we need in today’s chaotic political, social, and racial climate are more bridges. This is hard and holy work for all of us.
My friend’s husband designs and builds bridges. He helped me understand that strong bridges have five essential parts: the foundation, the beam, the bearing, the pier cap, and the pier. Each of these five parts can be engineered in different ways but each plays a vital role in the overall stability of the bridge.
Each of us in the body of Christ has a different part but an indispensable role in building bridges. Our gifts, our stories, our cultures, our skills, our talents, and our sensitivities were all intentionally-given to us by God to serve the body of Christ.
Building bridges requires sacrifice. It means taking time to learn the nuances of people who are wired differently from the way we are wired, who look different from the way we look.
Building a bridge means bending to listen to the suffering my sister has endured and leveraging my own privileges to help her amplify her voice.
Let’s be real. It’s so much easier for all of us to just hang with our own people, to remain in safe spaces that don’t require us to be uncomfortable, stepped on, or repent of our own prejudices. It’s simpler to enjoy our personal freedoms without thinking about how these freedoms may infringe on the well-being of others, or worse, take advantage of the most vulnerable.
Jesus was the ultimate bridge. He didn’t just build bridges between people. He became the bridge Himself. He was the connection, the foundation, the one who leveraged His own privileges to become human and secure eternity for all of us who choose to believe.
Our Savior wore a crown of thorns and carried a cross up the steepest hill to be crucified so we might all experience grace, freedom from sin, and His glory. He made Himself the bridge for all humankind.
Being a bridge means following Jesus’ lead and actually laying down our politics, our prejudices, our passions, our perfect houses, our planned-out futures, and our piercing sense of entitlement in this country on behalf of others.
Jesus invites us into the ministry of reconciliation. He designed us to be bridge builders for His Kingdom. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (The Voice):
All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through the Anointed. And He has given us the same mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bring others back to Him. It is central to our good news that God was in the Anointed making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other.
This summer I led an online book club through LaTasha Morrison’s bestselling book, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. LaTasha’s book ushered us through some key components of the bridge-building process. Through acknowledgment, lament, confession, repentance, and making amends, reconciliation and restoration are possible.
She writes about how reproduction as bridge builders is not optional: “God didn’t draw us through the process of reconciliation for our own sake. He reconciled us so we could bring reconciliation to others in His name . . . He made us bridge builders so we could draw others into bridge building in His name.”
Eleven men died building the Golden Gate Bridge. That glorious structure stands secure today because people laid down their lives. Who can imagine San Francisco without it?
What would happen if more women who witnessed injustice against their Black and brown sisters linked arms to help them?
What if more pastors invited immigrants and refugees to share their stories with the church?
What would change if more teachers read books with their students about the history and sacrifice of people of color?
What would our world be like if more people of color took the risk to steward their stories well?
In the same way, may the love of Christ compel us to serve and sacrifice for others and build more bridges toward healing.
How is God calling you to be a bridge builder today?
Dorina loves staying personally connected with readers. Subscribe to her Glorygram newsletter for weekly encouragement and all the behind-the-scenes details about her coming book, Walk, Run, Soar.
One way we’re committed to building bridges here at (in)courage is through sharing our hard, vulnerable stories and leaning in to really listen. We recently held a two-part conversation that we hope will help us do just that. In Part One, we hear stories from women of color at (in)courage about painful experiences with racism. In Part Two, we learn together how we can all engage in anti-racism work through open conversations with the people in our lives.
Our heart is to encourage and equip you to share your own story about race and listen well to others. We’ll go first. Watch both parts of the video conversation here and here.Leave a Comment
Deana McGarr says
Dorina- I was very moved by your words. Thank you for sharing these with us today. I love the bridge analagoy and will think about how I can become a bridge in many areas of my life. Hugs to you! D
Dorina Gilmore-Young says
Deana, Thank you for taking time to read and think more deeply about bridge-building in your life! I pray God will lead you in the different areas of your life where He has a purpose for you!
Becky Keife says
Dorina, I love how you pointed out that there are multiple parts to building a secure and lasting bridge — not every one looks the same or serves the same function, but all are needed. Essential. Praying today that God will continue to impress upon our hearts what role He designed for each of us. May bridging the divide start with us.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young says
Yes, I love the way God created us with diverse personalities, talents, and cultures, which are all meant to contribute to His Kingdom. May we continue to look for ways together to build the foundation and lift up the most vulnerable. I appreciate your heart!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
We are all little bridge builders in the world of God. Especially if saved. We don’t think it a time. But if we can see our Brother or Sister in Christ sad or struggling to cope. We can be that bride builder for them by listing to them if they know they can trust you. With their problems. You can if God is saying to you go to that person be a bridge builder and build friends with them. Just sit by sitting and listening to them. All they might need is for you to be a friend to them. Help them with a problem they have. If you can’t help them. You might know someone who can send them to get the right help. They will thank you for that. If ready to get the help they need. Another way you could be a bridge builder is by helping them build the bridges they have knocked down in their life that they think they can’t pick up and do again. It might be something simple as them feeling like they have feel they are not good enough. You telling yes you are good enough. God word says it. You telling them they are a Daughter of the king. Or they feel they have hurt someone and when you hear their story. It is not as bad as they fell it is. They can go with your help to the person they feel they hurt with a little prayer before hand and say to the person. I hope I didn’t hurt you in anyway with my words. You being that friend and giving them the strength to do that. You have helped them build the bridges they thought they could not build with that friend ever again. Because they thought hurt them with their words. All long they hadn’t. That is being a bridge builder and listening to God. Plus the person you are helping will thank you for help them as they will be glad you did. They will be able to smile again. So will you to see the person happy again. My friend was bridge builder for me in the past. As I once thought I hurt someone. She helped me go them. They said Dawn no you didn’t. You just got your words mixed up. But if my other friend had not been the bridge builder made me go my friend I thought I hurt with my words. I would have been afraid to talk her again. My other friend I am so glad she made me go say I hope my words didn’t hurt you I didn’t mean them they came out wrong. My friend then said Dawn I knew that. I passed no remarks. I was so pleased. She gave he big hug said Dawn we will always be friends. I was relieved. I told my other friend my friend said she pass no remarks on my words. My other friend said see your glad now you went to her and said I hope my words didn’t hurt you. Now you feel better. My friend was a real bridge builder. Thank for todays reading. Love it Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young says
Thank you for sharing these ways we can all consider being bridge builders!
Thank you, Dorinda. I will try to be a bridge.
Dorina Gilmore Young says
Let’s move in this together!
What a beautiful message that you have relayed to us. Thank-you for the reminder of how we are all to be kind, caring, loving, and tender hearted to everyone in order for there to be any healing. The bridge also reminds me of the song by Simon and Garfunkle,”:Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water.”Without bridges we could not get to certain destinies safely, so perhaps by being a bridge we might also be providing those in need with safety.
Blessings to all,
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Penny, I appreciate your words here and especially the thought that by being a bridge we might also provide safety for those in need. What a Gospel-centered mission!
Beth Williams says
We can all be bridge builders if we would use our God given talents to help others. All it takes is a little kindness, courtesy & caring. Jesus gave up the splendor of Heaven to come to broken Earth & be our bridge builder. Being Christians we should do likewise. Give of your time, talents & money to assist others. Take the time to hear-really hear another’s story. It is time to tear down the walls of injustice & prejudice. This country is in dire need of God’s healing touch. We can be that touch. Praying that God’s wondrous love will compel us to serve & sacrifice for others so their story can be told. May we all work at being bridge builders & healers.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young says
Beth, I’m so glad this resonated with you. Bridge building is hard and sometimes uncomfortable work, but it is the way of healing.
Nancy Ruegg says
I’m praying for opportunities for all of us to be bridge-builders–with neighbors, casual contacts in our communities, online, as well as with those we have frequent contact. The ministry of reconciliation, bringing others back to Jesus, is a privilege that God allows us to participate in with Him, and the outcome can be nothing short of glorious. Help us, Lord, to choose the challenge of bridge-building!
Thought provoking post. The illustration of bridge building, connection, and Christ as our perfect bridge spanning the divide to provide for our greatest need gives a picture of hope. Thank you.
vina mogg says
Thank you for this easily read analogy. Lately I have been afraid to cross these bridges and step into hard discussions. I don’t like conflict so I take a u-turn or a different route. Your words encourage me to let go of fear and go ahead and take steps across the bridge, even with friends I have known for a very long time. Crossing a bridge is risky but the only way to get to the other side.