Thoughts on Building a Bridge (pt. 2)

“In order to build a bridge, I must have anchors in both sides of the canyon.”

Last week, we began looking at this idea and we talked about how the first step we must take is to identify what side of the canyon we are on, who it is we are interested in reaching, and begin to build a strong anchor for the bridge on the side we are on. This first step is the easy part, both in building a bridge, and in building influence with others.

While the first step is easy, the second step is scary. It is the scariest one in the whole process. The second step in this process begins by taking a literal step, or even a leap of faith, over to the other side of the canyon. This could be leaping over to volunteering at a homeless shelter, over to an area of town that is dangerous, over to a different state/province, or even maybe over to a different country.

All bridges have at least two anchors, and after we have finished with the first anchor, we must begin to work on the second one.

Anchoring on “Their” Side of the Canyon

Once we have arrived on “their” side of the canyon, we realize that it is a scary place, at least at first. It feels different, weird, strange, and uncomfortable. Depending on how far the distance is between both sides of the canyon will determine how different and strange your new surroundings will be when you have arrived on “the other side”. However, we must always remember we have come over here to build an anchor for the bridge — and this anchor comes in the form of genuine relationships.

The temptation we all face when confronted with being on “their” side, is to keep our guard up, to always be on our defense, and to fight or run away when challenged. Building a lasting anchor is different than attacking with “bullet point” arrows because if the bridge ever does get built, it will be because of the reputation we have established with both sides (especially with “their” side). If we are not genuinely interested in them, they will sense it and will work to demolish all attempts for an anchor to be laid. If others have failed before us, we may even have to work twice or three times as hard at this, because we are working against the failure of others and the preconceived notion that we are no different.

Being on “their” side has another challenge: being judged by those who are on the other side of the canyon — that’s right, the side of the canyon you started from. Those who you are friends with who don’t understand that you are building a bridge (or perhaps because you are building a bridge) will see you on the other side and think you are crazy. They may judge you for where you are and they may intentionally try to hit you with targeted arrows because of your choices that they don’t understand or agree with.

Before beginning to build a bridge, we must understand that this tension will always be the case in every place that a bridge does not exist. We must be ok with the tension because it is the only way things will ever change.

As time progresses and the second anchor is being reinforced we begin to change ourselves. We no longer see the canyon as an “us” vs. “them” on opposing sides. We instead begin to see how together we are able to become more than we could have been if we stayed separate.

However, the bridge still needs to be finished, and there is one additional thing to watch out for as the bridge comes to completion. This final choice is the hinge that can cement the bridge into a solid structure, or expose its weakness as both the bridge structure and anchors collapse.

We’ll discuss the final phase of our bridge building next week. In the meantime, will you share a time when you were in a place with people who you were “uncomfortable” being around at first? Were you able to push through the discomfort and build a relationship?