I have been a fan of Dr. Donald Joy for several years, and had the privilege of meeting him at a conference where my he and my husband were speaking. I had read his book on bonding and relationships, and the first chapter, “Who Is Holding Your Trampoline?” grabbed me and never let me go. The concept helped me understand and visualize what healthy relationships look like and how important accountability and support are, especially if a person has been in a crisis situation.
Let me explain my take on the trampoline concept:
Dr. Joy, a professor at Asbury Seminary, asked his class to consider a four-sided, hand held trampoline supported by four different sets of people:
When these groups are holding up their respective sides of the trampoline, there is enough support to jump confidently and with security. You can probably even try some flips from time to time knowing your trampoline will be there for you. But when even one side of the trampoline isn’t supported, the jumper can become handicapped, his jumping impaired and his full potential not realized.
A Metaphor for Life
Jumping on a trampoline is a metaphor for living life. The people holding your trampoline are the community of people who you trust, fellowship with, bare your soul to, and check-in with. In essence, they help you do life.
As for me, I was jumping along doing life a little lopsided, but I didn’t know it. I had gotten used to jumping that way. A little isolated; some of my close friends had moved away and I never replaced them. I wasn’t as close to my family as I had been at other times. Then a crisis came along and broadsided me. My jumping was a little off anyway, so this really did me in. I lost my balance, started sliding sideways and landed on the pavement with a thud. Where was everybody?
A Reality Check
Along with the intense pain, (see It Happened to a Nice Christian Girl) the crisis brought the stark realization that my support system had a big deficit. If I wanted to heal, I needed to start reaching out, reconnecting and befriending. I needed my trampoline to work again or I’d be sitting the rest of my life out aching on the pavement.
Slowly, but surely I began to reach out. I limped back to church, mustered up the courage to meet new people, and (gasp!) tell them what was going on in my life. Although not everyone I met was trampoline worthy, I did find kind and trustworthy people who wanted to hold up my trampoline! And I started to jump, tentatively at first, then stronger and more confidently. One day I realized not only was I was jumping joyfully; I was strong enough to hold other trampolines too. My pain had been replaced with the strength of community.
So maybe this metaphor is a good illustration for you: who’s holding your trampoline? Are you feeling isolated, low on reciprocal friendships and people you really feel connected to in a healthy way? Then I encourage you to find ways to fill those support gaps. You’ll be jumping more joyfully if you do. -R
For more ideas on support and friendship, see my post Paris Hilton’s New BFF.