[Updated after reading The Great Virginia Flood of 1870 by Paula F. Green about the economic devastation caused by the flood’s destruction of bridges that impacted communication, travel, and commerce for decades.]
There’s lots of troubled water in this world.
And there are lots of good folks drowning in it.
Clearly, there’s a very visible kind of trouble: economic and social chaos, war, poverty, famine, genocide, and social injustice of all kinds. All we have to do is turn on the TV to see it. Even in our own cities and towns, we just need to open our eyes as we drive down the road or walk down the street. For instance, I was shocked to learn recently that a high percentage of families in my own Shenandoah County qualify for reduced or free lunches in our public schools. An equally shocking number of children are being raised by their grandparents because of their parents’ dysfunction or drug addiction.
Regardless of our political leanings, we’ve all been swept into the roiling waves of a polarized America with seemingly insurmountable differences of opinion on all sorts of issues.
Then there is the less visible, personal kind of trouble. We all know someone who’s had life slap them down, whether they’ve been betrayed by a loved one, fired from their job, hurt in an accident or natural disaster, diagnosed with a serious illness, or embroiled in an emotional or legal drama they didn’t start and don’t know how to escape.
You’ve probably felt some of those troubled waters rise around you and wondered if there was any help to be found.
What can we do in the face of such overwhelming trouble and such bitter division?
Look for connection rather than division.
We must constantly strive to find the ties that bind rather than reach for the swords—or words or actions—that split us apart.
As part of this Heartspoken community, I know you are whole-hearted, and you want to be part of the solution.
We speak and live from our hearts.
We are grounded in love and faith and charity, even when we, ourselves, are struggling.
We try to listen more than we talk, and we try to pray before we act.
We Heartspeakers must become bridges for others.
It takes tough choices to move the needle in the direction of goodness, grace, and justice:
- Choosing love over hate
- Choosing courage over fear
- Choosing hope over despair
- Choosing kindness over judgment
- Choosing faith over doubt
- Choosing patience over expediency
- Choosing truth over lies
- Choosing what’s right over what’s convenient
- Choosing to risk judgment rather than to be popular
When we do this, others notice and see a better way…a way across the troubled waters so they don’t have to drown. In this way, we become bridges of love, courage, and hope.
Before you shrink in the face of this high-minded rhetoric, let me be clear. We are not all called to be prophets or martyrs or saviors or heroes. There are as many ways—both large and small—to play a positive role as there are people willing to listen to the still small voice within their souls. Set your intention and open your heart.
We must each choose which troubled waters to cross.
Each of us is unique, and each of us brings our own personality, experience, and skillset to this monumental task of living with intention and wholeheartedness. Among us are communicators, social engineers, artists, healers, entrepreneurs, strategists, workers, prayer warriors, encouragers, writers…mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. When we embrace each other’s gifts and work together, we make an amazing force for good.
We should not judge our friends who choose a different way of dealing with life any more than they should judge us. Some will lead while others will follow. Some will work quietly while others march and give speeches. Some will write papers and poetry while others will make documentaries. Some will call congressmen while others send emails or sign petitions. Some will send money and supplies while others will become missionaries or volunteers. Some are risk takers while others are encouragers. Some will work on the problems in our communities while others tackle global issues in other parts of the world.
Above all, we are Heartspeakers, and we can each in our own way be a bridge over troubled water so others can cross safely. Never has the world needed our efforts more than now. I am reminded of Mordecai’s call to Queen Esther when she is in a dangerous but powerful position to save her Jewish people:
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
Take my hand. Let’s work together to become the strongest bridges we can possibly be. This crazy beautiful world deserves our best effort.
What kind of bridge are you trying to be? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Let music inspire us to build bridges.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water”
This song was written by Paul Simon and originally sung in 1970 by the American music duo Simon & Garfunkel. Below is a powerful rendition by Josh Groban & Brian McKnight
“Love Can Build A Bridge”
This song was written by Paul Overstreet, John Barlow Jarvis, and Naomi Judd, It was originally sung by the country music duo The Judds.
“Building The Bridge”
This song was written by Kevin Kronin. It was originally sung by the American rock band REO Speedwagon.
If you prefer to support independent bookstores, order this book from my Heartspoken Bookshop.