Susan Badeau

There are only two lasting gifts we can give our children - one is roots, the other is wings


Building Bridges of Hope Part I

Posted by Sue Badeau on February 8, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Flying into Minneapolis as I did this afternoon always reminds me of the horrific incident that inspired the bridge analogy I often use to help audiences in my Trauma training workshops understand the impact of trauma on children, and the real reasons to believe there is always hope for healing.

It was Aug 2, 2007 when an I-35 West Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed. For thousands of Minnesotans, this tragedy rocked their world in a very painful and literal way. For others of us, the unimaginable drama unfolded on our television or computer screens. Many, children and adults alike, experienced genuine trauma as a result.

The day it happened, I was helping my daughter SueAnn finalize the men’s attire for the usher’s at her upcoming wedding and my son Jose, (one of the ushers) was on my mind. When he first joined our family, he was terrified of bridges. He would cry out in fear and use the Spanish words for “dog” and “guns” whenever we crossed a bridge. Eventually, we learned that in the area he lived before coming to our home, it was not uncommon for gang and militia members to hide out with their cache of guns and guard dogs under bridges, ready to pounce and ambush unsuspecting sojourners. As soon as I heard about the Minnesota bridge, I was transported back in time to 1981, the year Jose joined our family, and the many months it took for him to feel safe around bridges.

Thankfully, bridges are not trauma reminders (see my blog on the pink suitcase, Part I and Part II for more on trauma reminders) for most of us. This is good because we have to cross one or more bridges regularly – often daily – on our way to and from home, school, work, recreational activities, church or other venues.

But try for a moment to imagine this – you are driving your car as you approach a bridge you have frequently crossed before. In my home city of Philly, this might be the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden, New Jersey.

Pause here for a moment and visualize a bridge that is part of your own normal routine.

Now imagine you have driven right up to the edge of the bridge, expecting to cross it easily and arrive in good time at your desired destination. Just as you approach the water’s edge, you realize that your bridge is completely gone. Not damaged. Not weak or fragile – but gone, it has been flooded out and washed away. Not even a remnant remains. You stare, in disbelief, first at the destination on the other side of the water, and then at the water itself – which now looms as a huge obstacle standing between you and the place you Need. To. Go. To. Now.

What do you do?

Are you a “doom and gloom” kind of person? Do you look sadly, longingly and miserably across to your destination and say to yourself, “Well, that's it then, the damage is SO severe, I will NEVER be able to go to that destination again?

Or are you an optimist? A “glass is always more than half full” person? A person who perseveres through all obstacles and always tries hard to accomplish even the most seemingly impossible task? If so, do you look firmly at your destination and say to yourself, “I don’t need a bridge! I can just drive across this water, bridge or no bridge! If I just think positive thoughts and try extra hard, I can hold on tight to the steering wheel, step down hard on the gas pedal, and varoooooom, before you know it I will be on the other side?”

Chances are you have said, “No,” to both of these options. You wouldn’t give up and say “never” nor would you try to drive over water sans bridge.

So what would you do?

Take a few moments here and brainstorm all the possible ways you could still get to your destination. Make a list – from simple to elaborate, from “old school” to “futuristic” and everything in between. Anything goes – no idea is too basic or complex, just go wild and brainstorm! How many options can you come up with? List your suggestions in the comment box below.

Stick with me on this – and check back soon. We’ll process this brainstorming session, gather some “lessons learned” and connect this whole exercise to helping children heal from trauma. See you soon!

Categories: Building Bridges of Hope

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Reply Vonda Skelton
10:03 AM on February 9, 2013 
Great analogy, Sue! My first thought was that we could join together and build a new bridge, in other words, be part of the solution itself.

We could also take a detour to our destination, or like Paul did when the Holy Spirit stopped him from going into the providence of Asia, we could believe that God had other plans for where we were supposed to go and simply alter our path.

Those are just a few. Looking forward to hearing what others think. Thanks!
Reply Sue Badeau
10:43 AM on February 9, 2013 
Thanks Vonda - I use this exercise often in groups and the idea of waiting for a new bridge to be built, or building a new bridge but you are the first to suggest working together to build it - love it!

I am also interested in hearing other people's brainstorms!
Reply Mary Brawner
12:32 PM on February 9, 2013 
Can't wait to read the rest Sue.

Being hoisted high above by a helicopter sounds exciting and dramatic. But, better to have a mechanism to turn a switch to turn the vehicle into a floating device. Learning to adjust to the circumstances with as little discomfort as possible is key. Can I turn around?
Reply Sue Badeau
1:15 PM on February 9, 2013 
Thanks Mary - a helicopter would do the trick! Turning around is an option - as long as you till figure out how to eventually get to the destination!
Reply margie houmes
12:14 PM on February 11, 2013 
Dear Sue,
This is hard. All I know to do when hit with an obstacle is call on Jesus!
"What is your Word Lord, to get to the other side?" I cannot turn away because of fear. I cannot drown out the voice of imposible by playing loud music. I must rest and re-evaluate the situation. I must wait for the still small voice of God and go fealess in His direction. I don't know if this is the brainstorming you are looking for. It was all that came to my mind.
You are amazing. I love you!
Reply Sue Badeau
1:45 PM on February 11, 2013 
Your brainstorming is awesome Margie! I love the part about resting and re-evaluating. If you continue and read parts II and III of this blog, you will see I talk about that very thing. Thanks for sharing from your heart! Love to you too!
Reply Cyn Rogalski
11:41 AM on February 14, 2013 
I would head upstream...if the bridge was washed out due to a large amount of sudden water, the bridges downstream might be washed out as well. My first thought was to look up!
Reply Sue Badeau
11:46 AM on February 14, 2013 
Awesome Cyn, I am thinking of a lot of ways to use that "head upstream" advice!