I’m not a big fan of flying. I have flown a lot thanks to 5 years spent living in Texas and a professional commitment to attending at least one national student affairs conference each year. Despite my familiarity with the process, there is something about sitting on an airplane that makes me feel claustrophobic. I feel trapped and any major bumps or weird noises bring out a deep seeded fear of becoming a character on Lost.
One of the worst things about flying is that sometimes you get stuck in a holding pattern. For one reason or another the aircraft cannot be cleared to land and is forced to fly in circles over the airport until the aircraft controllers say the magic word. Even the smallest amount of time spent in a holding pattern seems like a stagnant eternity spent as a hamster who’s wheel happens to have wings that serve to keep it afloat while not taking it anywhere.
If I’m honest with myself sometimes I let my life enter a holding pattern. I find myself refusing to act or move forward because I’m waiting for something. The something is always different and always elusive. I find myself thinking “I’ll make my progress on my debt snowball when I get a raise” or “I’ll plan for new projects at work when things slow down this summer”, or “I’ll write more this weekend/summer/school year”.
Gravitating towards a holding pattern comes out of a lack of contentment. Each of those statements take on the form of “if I only had/did/could do X then I could really do Y”. So I waste time and am unproductive in moving forward. I sit back and wait for something BIG to happen to push forward. I think I will have or be more/better when I obtain that thing I do not have.
I’m learning though that the big things happen in small ways. God calls me to be a good steward of what I have- whether a little or a lot. Luke 16:10 says
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Living life in a holding pattern is not being faithful with very little.
Paying off my debt starts with being a faithful steward of what I have now, not waiting for something more. Writing more starts with setting aside a little time to write each day—not waiting for some larger amount of time that will never come. Having better community starts with being a better friend now.
Each time I find myself living in a holding pattern and circling life like a purposeless hamster I have a choice to make. I can keep going in circles or I can take steps to be faithful with what I have. I can live on a budget, call or send a letter to a friend, wake up a little earlier or turn off the t.v. more.
Each time I make the choice to step out of the holding pattern I find my life moving forward and find that I’m closer to the things my heart wants the most. I also find that much like the master in the parable of the talents (Luke 16 and Matthew 25) God says
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21)