Bridge Swinging


While I was in South Africa, I heard about a fascinating extreme sport that seemed to provide an excellent metaphor for where I am in life.  It’s called bridge swinging, and it combines aspects of bungee jumping and skydiving.  Although I don’t ever plan to literally jump off a bridge (with or without a harness) , hearing my South African roommate Faye describe the experience was quite intriguing.  Faye is not someone I would have pegged as an adrenalin junkie – she’s a steady, solid, grounded young woman who works in student ministry at one of Cape Town’s universities.  Anyway, we hit it off and within about 24 hours of meeting each other we had swapped the highlights of our respective life stories – and for her, that included bridge swinging.

So the actual process of bridge swinging is fairly simple.  Wearing a harness that’s tethered to a bridge, you jump off a neighboring bridge, experience a period of free-fall, then settle into a “flying” pattern as a human pendulum.  Obviously you need two bridges fairly close together for this to work (i.e. a railroad bridge running parallel to a roadway bridge – and not too much space in between the two) – not to mention trained professionals, a serious harness, and a good strong cord.  Oh, and guts.  Because you actually have to step off the first bridge.

As Faye and I talked, she pointed out some of the spiritual analogies she found within bridge swinging.  The gear represents the preparation Jesus gives to every believer to hear and heed His call on his or her life.  Stepping off the bridge is similar to absolute surrender to Christ.  Free-fall is how I feel immediately after I fully surrender (“I stepped off the bridge,” Faye told me, “and I all could think was, ‘I’m going to die!  I’m going to die!’  You have no control – it’s scary.”).  And then there’s the “flying” part.  “The feeling of flying was AMAZING,” Faye said.  “It made the free-fall worth it.”  Letting go – stepping out – dropping into God’s hands – that will put me into God-orchestrated situations where I can simply enjoy the ride.  He’s the one really doing this, anyway.

The wonderful thing about this analogy is that I can see immediate application in my own life. :-)  Right now, that first step off the bridge is actually beginning the process of support raising.  In theory, I know I’m in a harness that is attached to something far more trustworthy than a bridge.  In practice, all I can see is the huge gap between where I’m “standing” and the bottom far below me.  It’s a long ways down.  I also know that it will be so worth it when I finally get up the courage to go

With a deep breath and eyes tight shut, I utter one last prayer.  And then…

…I’m jumping!

Faye and Susanna, Cape Town 2010



One Response to “Bridge Swinging”

  1. 1 Plans, Proverbs, and Scary Stuff « musings along the way

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