Imagine yourself getting ready for a sunny beach vacation. You have been planning for this getaway for months now and tomorrow could not get here any sooner. You pick out your favorite outfits, pack your suitcase, and lay in bed dreaming of what this next week will look like – full of rest, sunshine, and probably more than a few margaritas. You wake up in the morning, drive to the airport two hours early, and finally board the plane. You are prepared and ready for this trip that you have spent months planning for. And now you have to wait.
It is a busy day at the airport and your plane is waiting behind a long line of other planes that haven’t moved a foot in the last ten minutes. Stress starts to creep up on you – “What is the hold up? Why aren’t we moving? Is this delay going to cause me to miss my next flight?” In reality, there is an order and process to when each plane can take off, and you are simply sitting in the holding pattern.
Sometimes life feels this way. So many of us work multiple jobs and come home to families and a long list of dirty dishes and house chores. We try our best to plan dinner or coffee dates with friends, to take time out of our day to read the book on our nightstand that’s been collecting dust for months, to go on a date night with our significant other. For some of you, you come home most days and love what you do and are reminded of the calling you felt to pursue the career you are in. For others, you simply find yourself repeating the mundane routine. Hoping for your turn to hop on the plane heading anywhere but “here,” and in the meantime growing tired of waiting for the next season of life to start. The good season. But right now you simply feel stuck. Stuck sitting in the holding pattern of what needs to happen before that season starts. This is a tough place to be.
When we find ourselves stuck in holding patterns we often want to react to our situation with anger or frustration or stress or discontentment with where we are in life. And we will do anything we can to make sure everyone around us sees the smoke coming out of our ears. We scream for help, but we do not always ask for it in ways that others can truly hear what we need.
I want to challenge you to respond instead. Respond by taking time to learn from the holding pattern. What is this time teaching you about yourself? Your relationships? The things in life that are most important to you? Do you give yourself time to take a breath and respond to those around you? Or do you react by bubbling over with anger? Responding often takes pause. In that pause you slow down. Maybe you meditate, read a book, go on a walk, give yourself time to think, or maybe you simply give yourself the permission to do nothing for a change. The pause helps you to hear your own voice, and in that pause we gain permission to take care of ourselves and listen to what we truly want and need. It is necessary to take this pause in order to fill ourselves back up, so that we can go back into our world and give of ourselves to others. When we drain ourselves to empty, we have nothing left to give.
I can promise you one thing, the holding pattern will not just disappear today. It is the stage of life you find yourself in at the moment, and there will be other holding patterns in other stages. But you can choose to respond to your holding pattern instead of reacting to it. The choice is not always easy, but it is yours to make. So will you stay stuck? Or will you hold onto hope that eventually your plane will take off?