BRIDGES: KEEPING, BURNING & BUILDING
To pass through the bridge of commitment, a mature Christian should be ready to burn some “bridges” whose very existence only allure us to self-destruction. What are these bridges worth burning down? Mahatma Gandhi mentioned some, like the bridges of politics without principle; of pleasure without conscience, of wealth without work, of knowledge without character, of business without morality, of science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice. These bridges, since the beginning of time, have destroyed individuals, families, nations and the world. If we do not burn these “bridges” we shall all be tempted to cross through them, in good times and in bad. But Jesus hints at the most important bridge to burn. The bridge of love without commitment.
Relationships 101: Bridges to Keep
♥ The Bridge of Prayer to God. The Russians have a saying: “Before going to war, pray once. Before going to sea, pray twice. And before going to get married, pray three times.” This is basic to all relationships: relationship with God. The first Bridge we need to keep is our direct personal connection with God. All important relationships, like Marital relationship, only find their meaning and life in this primary relationship with God.
♥ The Authority of God in Marriage. This means that neither the man nor the woman is the authority here. It is God who is head of the home. Is God the head of your home? Does God rule your relationships? The gospel today emphasizes the importance and authority of God in the marital relationship. “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mark 10:9)
Please, don’t run away from those who give you strength. Don’t ever cut bridges that connect you to Godly values and principles. These Bridges are definitely worth keeping.
Relationships 102: Bridges to Burn
This second section is relationships 102. This means that in this section, we would like to offer something beyond the basics of relationships. Here, we will discuss Burning Bridges of Abusive Relationships.
Part 1. Steps to Burning Abusive Bridges
If you are in an abusive relationship, here are some steps you can take to free yourself from victimhood.
1. Get professional counseling support, with or without your partner.
2. Start setting limits by firmly letting him know what kind of behavior you will not accept from him.
3. Call his attention immediately every time he is being abusive towards you.
4. Stay in the present, calling his attention only to what he has just done and asking him to stop it immediately.
5. Ask for the changes that you want in the relationship. But before you do, be sure that you will have the determination and the means to leave the relationship and the situation if he is not to change.
6. Be aware that you can leave any abusive situation, even when you are married in Church. Please consult with your pastor in person in the soonest possible time. You are a free person and should have control over your own life.
The above steps may be very difficult to do because:
♥ You may feel you are betraying him.
♥ You may feel that he treats you this way because of your own shortcomings.
♥ Other people may not believe you and refuse to help you.
♥ You yourself may be in denial, unable to accept the fact that you are being abused.
Part 2. Preventing Abusive Relationships
- How to spot the potential abuser and victim:
Are you a potential victim?
- Do you have low self-esteem?
- Do you believe in traditional, stereotypical, man-as-the-head of-the-house roles?
- Do you easily accept responsibility for starting arguments?
- Do you believe that jealousy is proof of love?
Is your boyfriend a potential abuser?
- Does he discourage you from talking with/confiding in your family/friends?
- Does he always insist on going everywhere with you?
- Do you have to tell him your schedule for the day, the people you will be with, and why you will be with them? Does he have problems with your success?
- Does he react negatively to people in positions of authority?
- Does he believe that the man should be the unquestioned head of the house?
- Does he belittle you or your accomplishments?
- Does he blame you if things turn out badly?
- Does he negate or belittle your opinions?
- Does he call you names?
- Does he lose control when he is angry?
- Does he become violent when he does not get his way or when he drinks?
- Does he come from an abusive home or a dysfunctional family?
Part 3. How To Avoid Getting Into A Verbally-Abusive relationship:
questions to ask yourself before you commit to a relationship
♥ Does he have a sense of joy in life?
♥ Do you enjoy his ideas and do you feel a rapport with him?
♥ Do you feel a real connection, laughing together and catching meanings in the same way?
♥ Is there a best-friend quality in your relationship?
♥ Do you feel relaxed with him?
♥ Can you be yourself without being criticized by him?
♥ Does he share his interests with you and express an interest in yours?
♥ Does he speak openly and honestly about himself?
♥ Is he warm and understanding towards you?
♥ Can he make jokes without making you uncomfortable, without sounding bitter, intimidating, or critical of others?
♥ Does he listen from the heart, like you do, too to him? That is, does he ever consider your point when you are right and affirms you honestly? Does he openly admit it when he is wrong?
♥ If you are looking at marriage, do you sense his willingness to burn the bridges of past attitudes, past lifestyles and ideas that only threaten the noble ideals of marriage, true Christian Catholic faith and morals?
Remember, it is better to call off a marriage by mistake than to enter into it by mistake.
Thus, before crossing the bridge of commitment discern with Christ which bridges to keep and which ones need to be burned.
The many storms we are going through as a Filipino nation, the many trials and difficulties we still may face in the near future, the loss of property, of loved ones, the loss of the cherished possessions we have worked for, these communal experience of suffering and pain, invite each one of us to ever be ready to burn our many unnecessary bridges of self-centeredness, of indifference, of materialism and of lack of commitment. Only then can we ourselves become true Bridges of Love.