“Tearing Down Walls and Building Bridges,” Ensign, December 2019
As one year ends and a new one begins, I’m sure we will all spend some time reflecting on the year that was and wonder what’s ahead. While imagining the future that awaits, many of us will likely make New Year’s resolutions—commitments to improve ourselves or our lives, to achieve something in the new year.
I would invite you to consider this question: What has stopped you from achieving the things you wanted to achieve in the past? Perhaps you have been building too many walls rather than bridges. Let me explain.
Walls and bridges are completely opposite things. A wall is an obstacle that, either metaphorically or physically, can separate you from reaching your desired physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual destination. A bridge, both metaphorical and real, is something that enables you to get from one place to another.
Elder Charles Didier, emeritus General Authority, once shared a statement he saw on the wall of an office building: “Men are building too many walls and not enough bridges.”1 Now swap the word men with young adults. All of us young adults have built or are building walls within certain areas of our lives. These walls become a shield of defense, a layer of separation, and a barrier of protection in our minds and hearts, stopping us from progressing where we need to progress to unleash our full potential. We build walls out of rejection (to save ourselves from getting hurt again), and we build walls out of failure (to save ourselves from being embarrassed again). It’s OK to have these walls, but we need to recognize them so that we can build our bridges of faith to move past them.
In his talk, Elder Didier explained the bridge of faith like this: the centerpiece of the bridge—or the cornerstone—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, while the other side of the bridge is the love of God. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the foundation of the bridge of faith, and finally, to complete the bridge is the linking of relationships.2
As we go about building these bridges of faith, we need to turn to Christ and, as Elder Didier taught, “build in our lives a firm testimony of the Father and the Son and His Atonement.”3 Crossing these bridges won’t be easy— as a bridge will only survive the storm if the foundation is strong.
As the new year begins, I wish to encourage you to begin building these bridges of faith. If you find it difficult to get over the walls that you have built—such as low self-esteem, unrepented sins, addictions, or an unwillingness to forgive—then turn to Heavenly Father, your family members, your friends, your advisers, or your bishop for help. The bridge is yours to cross, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. When you seek for guidance, others can help you build your bridge of faith as they can share their own experiences, bear testimony, and encourage you to be better today than you were yesterday.
I can personally testify to building bridges to overcome walls. In year eight (middle school), when teenagers are beginning to discover their potential, my potential—what I could have been—was crushed due to a wall I built around myself. This was a wall of self-sabotage and defense—I wouldn’t let people get close enough to me to form a true friendship so they wouldn’t be able to reject me or hurt me. I became super introverted and avoided social situations.
But I began building the bridge to overcome this wall after I went through the temple. Once I went through the temple, I realized that one of the main purposes of my life is to help others in either finding our Heavenly Father or growing closer to Him. How could I achieve this purpose if I didn’t participate in young adult activities, if I couldn’t make the time to serve others, or if I wouldn’t develop relationships with others? I couldn’t.
I’m still working on building this bridge of faith, but I know that the cornerstone of this bridge is Jesus Christ. The foundation of my bridge is the Holy Ghost. Across the bridge is God, and each time I reach out to someone and form a connection, I lay one more brick down on my bridge to enable me to get to the other side.
Remember, you are amazing—you are a chosen child of God and He has a plan for you. There is purpose for your life. If you’re going through a dark time right now and are unsure of how to remove the walls in your life, reach out. There is always help for you. I look forward to seeing bridges of faith being built, walls being demolished, and growth and progression occurring in both myself and so many others as we turn to Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.