Anybody else have a phobia about driving over bridges? Little bridges aren’t bad. And even some medium-sized ones don’t scare me to death, but great big bridges? I can get dizzy just thinking about them. My sister shares this affliction with me (we like to copy each other). I’d venture to say she has it worse than I. But there was one bridge in particular that just about put me over the edge. . . . um . . . bad choice of words! Let’s say that my unexpected encounter with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that spans Tampa Bay rattled me at my core! But that was a couple of years ago and here I am, still breathing . . .
I had been at my friend, Kit’s, over in Clearwater Beach for a mid-winter college-roomie weekend. It’s a jaunty 4ish hour drive from where I live on the west coast of Florida to her place on the gulf. I drove west at the start of the weekend going through farmland and citrus orchards. I greeted many a cow and orange on the way there. I met my gal pals at a mall in Tampa as two of our other friends were arriving from the Midwest into the Tampa airport – and from there we headed over to Kit’s (over a few bridges, mind you, not scary ones, though). We proceeded to have a delightful weekend, as we always do, and then, alas, it was time for me to head for home.
Relying on my trusty GPS, I plugged in “home.” I imagined I’d be going home the way I came – through farms and orange groves.
My GPS was taking me a different route. Since I didn’t have the mall in Tampa in my scope this time, it was taking me south before heading east. I really like familiarity, and cows, but I know there are also more ways than one to get somewhere, so I just trusted I’d get home along this other route.
When I first saw the bridge, it was still a long way off.
What. Was. That?
I couldn’t even quite tell if the bridge was on my route, so I didn’t panic immediately. Oh no, that came a little while later. But panic, I did, to be sure. Even from far away, I could tell this thing was enormous. I didn’t know what else to do. I suppose I could have turned onto some other road and I’d hear “Recalculating,” and I’d be directed another way. But I still wasn’t certain that bridge was in my path. So on I went.
Why are bridges so scary? I can’t help but think when I’m on one, that all I’d have to do is turn my wheel a little to the right and I’d go right over the edge. It sounds crazy, I know. But it seems like such a little effort as turning my hands off course could send me careening to certain death. (I’m afraid of both heights and water so falling through the air in a vehicle into the watery depths below about paralyzes me.)
It became apparent I was to drive over that bridge. For some reason, cable-stayed bridges seem the scariest to me. Suspension bridges, though also intimidating, seem sturdier for some reason. Of course this particular bridge was the former and not the latter. I started to go up.
The pitch of this thing is incredible! It is so steep! I don’t like driving over steep hills, let alone a steep hill in the sky with nothing but water underneath!
Not knowing what is on the other side scares the daylights out of me.
As I was climbing this mountain-in-the-sky, my heart was racing and I could feel myself getting light-headed. Great. How about I just pass out while driving an automobile on a busy bridge in the middle of the sky? I knew that wasn’t a good option. So I started saying the first Bible verse that came into my head. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) First I said it quietly, but I got louder as my pulse (and the pitch of the bridge) increased until I was yelling. I’d repeat the whole thing and then just bits and pieces. I can only imagine what I looked like to passersby: A crazed woman white-knuckling the steering wheel of her VW bug, eyes bulging, chest heaving and screaming Proverbs into the dashboard. Not exactly a Chamber of Commerce photo opp.
Somehow in the midst of my shouting and breathing, I had a rational thought. Well, let’s say it wasn’t MY thought – I think it was God saying to me, “What are you so afraid of?” I knew the answer right away. Well, aside from the whole “I-could-turn-the-wheel-right-now-and-drive-over-the-edge” thing. The answer is this: I don’t know what’s on the other side. And here’s what I heard, not an audible voice actually, but I knew it in my heart it was God saying:
“I AM. I am on the other side.”
I think at this point I was on my way down the other side of that high-pitched monstrosity. My heart was still racing, but not quite as fast. I’d gone back to merely saying the Bible verse rather than hollering it. My hands managed to keep the wheel in such a way as to drive straight rather than, well, you know…
I made it to the other side.
I still don’t love to cross bridges. In fact, I will avoid them if at all possible. But I also know bridges are marvelous creations that link places together. They really are things of beauty. I guess it’s all in one’s perspective. I’m trying to remember that even if I can’t SEE what’s on the other side . . . the other side of the bridge, the other side of a new project, the other side of a problem . . . . I know God is there already. He told me so.
How about you? What are your “bridges?”