Jump off the freaking bridge

I’ve already written about bungee jumping this week. I’ve written about a lot of things in the past two weeks, and by now I should be sick of it. But I’m not. My heart still longs to write, and I’m really thankful for the passion God has given me.

But that isn’t what I want to write about today. I want to write about bungee jumping, the single most terrifying and thrilling moment of my life.

As I stood with my feet tied together on the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand, God didn’t cross my mind. Real fear–like, I’ve been afraid before, but I’ve never felt true, deep fear until this moment–filled every part of me. In that full-of-fear moment, I wanted nothing more than to sit on that bridge.

I didn’t care how much money I’d spent to be there. I didn’t care about how often the team had talked about it, how deeply we’d discussed the story we would write about the experience. I didn’t care what people would say in the wake of my decision to back out. I didn’t care. Fear had completely engulfed any excitement or joy in the moment.

I wanted to stay on that bridge.

What’s funny, though, is the fear I felt on the ledge didn’t exist on other parts of the bridge. When our group first walked up, brave leaders stepping into the first open harnesses, nervous excitement was the only thing I felt. I suppressed nervous giggles as I watched the first jumpers take flight, my stomach floating, mind racing with anticipation. The experience we’d spent months talking about was finally becoming a reality and I could not wait.

The line got shorter and every minute or so we would inch toward the platform. A harness had been freed up; I was stepping into it over casual bungee conversation. A man shockingly similar looking to Lane Kiffin (with a New Zealand accent, of course) motioned it was my turn to queue up on the platform. After the next jumper, I would finally have my moment of bravery.

We chatted about Alabama football and his similarities to the ex-offensive coordinator, who he surprisingly knew of. He told me fun, Alabama-related stories as I sat and watched him strategically tie my ankles together, snap a carabiner clip through a few loops, tighten and reach for my hand. As my weight shifted to my feet, my heart, stomach and most of my other internal organs followed suit.

I immediately regretted my decision.

I felt no attachment to Kawarau Bridge until it was time to jump off of it.

I love the bridge, why would I jump? The water is blue and gorgeous, yes, but I can see it much better from here. There’s a great view of the mountains, I can watch people jump without having to do it myself, there are nice people up here I can talk to. There’s a handle right here that perfectly fits my white-knuckled hand. There’s seriously no need to jump. I don’t want to; I can’t.

These are the things I told Cam, the nice jumpmaster instructing me on how to do the jump I was now adamantly against. I appreciated his care, concern and quality instruction, but he just didn’t understand. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I don’t know why I thought I could. I once accidentally belly-flopped off a 25-foot cliff (yes, that really happened. Please reference any of my close friends for video evidence). Why did I think a 140-feet bungee would go better?

“I can’t. No. I don’t want to. I can’t.”

These words continuously escaped my mouth, Cam speaking encouraging words over them (he’s really good at his job). I didn’t ever convince myself I could and neither did he. I doubted my ability to jump until my face seemed inches from the water.

But somehow, I jumped.

Cam didn’t push me, though I asked him if he would. His words, no matter how comforting and well-meaning, did not give me confidence in my ability. My teammates cheering at me from the spectator deck did not fill me with the energy I needed to leave the platform.

It just kind of happened.

Without me even realizing it, I knew it was time.

I had come all this way, spent all this money, used all this time preparing. I’d talked with everyone close to me about how I would bungee jump at the original bungee site in the adventure capital of the world. My teammates and I had spent months talking out the logistics of the story I would co-write, of how many of us would book a jump, of how excited we were to do this.

And on the ledge, it was time. Preparation was over. The jump was booked and paid for. Members of our team had already jumped. Photographers and videographers were in place. My ankles were tied together and attached to a bungee rope, for crying out loud. It was time.

Jump off the freaking bridge.

These words resurfaced this week as I again found myself surrounded by fear. Doubt had again crept into my mind, clouded excitement and joy in the face of the unknown. I had to choose between the bridge and the jump, and for quite some time, I chose to hold on to the bridge.

It was easy to convince myself to stay on the bridge. It makes logical sense. The bridge is well-built. It effectively serves its purpose. People enjoy the bridge. The bridge holds a lot of history. I really like the bridge.

But God has been preparing me for the bungee for a long time. The bridge was necessary and, for a while, the bridge was good. Without the bridge, there would be nowhere to jump from, the jump wouldn’t exist.

From the bridge, the jump was exciting and beautiful and I couldn’t wait to experience it myself. I was thankful for the bridge, but I wasn’t attached to it. It just existed, serving its purpose of holding us up as we prepared for the jump, the real reason we were there.

Even as my feet were being tied together, I wasn’t attached to the bridge, afraid of leaving it. It wasn’t until my toes were at the ledge’s end, the bungee pulling tension on my ankles, the weight of the decision fully dependent on me, that I was afraid.

I wanted to stay on that bridge.

No one could push me off the ledge this week. I couldn’t convince anyone to make the decision for me, to persuade me to take the leap, to take away the feelings of fear. I just had to do it. I had to do it. I’d had the preparation, I’d taken the time, I’d prayed the prayers, I’d had the conversations. The ball was in my court. It was time.

Jump off the freaking bridge.

My friend saying these words to me didn’t convince me that I could make the jump. My closest friends’ encouragements and verbalized prayers didn’t give me confidence in my ability to get off the bridge.

It just kind of happened.

And without even realizing it, I see God’s sovereignty as I look back on each of those moments. He didn’t push me. He gave me the choice. Even better, He gave me the strength. I knew I couldn’t jump off that bridge. And I’m still not sure how I managed to do it. I just know at some point I realized that the thrill of the jump would at one point outweigh the fear of such and the safety of the bridge.

So, friend, I’ll say it again in hopes that I can be the encouraging voice that can’t quite convince you to move:

Jump off the freaking bridge.

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