Holding Patterns

A few years ago, I was traveling with my two oldest sons. We were returning from a visit to see their grandmother in my hometown. As we approached our final destination, I noticed that we seemed to be circling the airport but never making any significant movement toward a definitive landing. As we circled again for the fourth time, the captain came on the intercom and indicated what we all knew to be true – we were in a holding pattern, and we would not be landing for an indefinite period of time. He actually said, “We would be landing shortly,” but we sensed that shortly really meant “indefinite,” “inordinate,” and what seemed to be “infinite” and “indeterminable.” Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes turned into hours.

plane in the air

I began to think about holding patterns in my life. Are there ever times in our lives when we are in a holding pattern? The Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines a holding pattern as “a state or period in which no progress or change is made or planned.” Many times a holding pattern in life involves inactivity toward a specific and productive goal or opportunity. We wait, hesitate, and circle again and again over our desired destination. All the while, the most important people in our lives wait impatiently for us to “land the plane,” take action, and make a positive impact. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt can breed indecision and patterns of inaction on our part. The inevitable consequence of remaining in a holding pattern is running out of fuel and crashing, never reaching our intended destination.

As we continued to circle for our destination for what seemed like the 20th time, my mind drifted to think about the moment I first jumped off the high dive. When I was a kid, there were two diving boards at the pool I visited – the low dive and the high dive. The low dive was safe and secure while the high dive was dangerous and doubtful. I often jumped off the low dive but never ventured too close to the perilous steps of the high dive.

Then, one momentous day, I found the courage to bravely climb the countless rungs of the “other” ladder. Do you remember this journey and the way your heart felt along the way? Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. Indecision about whether to take the next step. As I reached the apex of the high dive and peered over the end of the board into the pool, my legs felt like I was in cement firmly planted in a holding pattern that was not going to proceed at any point in the near future. As I thought about the moment, a kind voice behind me reassured me that I would be OK. I heard the sound of a female voice below encouraging me to jump. Instead of being trapped by fear and doubt, I decided to take the plunge and found it to be an exhilarating adventure. As I got out of the pool, I saw my mom cheering for me, and I ran to jump off the high dive again – this time allowing myself to enjoy the journey.

All of a sudden, my oldest son shook me out of my trance of holding patterns and high dives, and I heard another female voice.  This time, it was the flight attendant on the intercom indicating that we would be making our final descent into our desired destination.

plan on the ground at sunrise

Are you currently in a holding pattern in some area of your life? Are you struggling to make a decision or take some action that would benefit the people around you? Are you wondering about your purpose and calling, afraid to step out in faith and take the next step?

Don’t allow holding patterns to rob you of the breakthrough moments in your life.  Consider your calling, develop a plan, step out in faith, and enjoy the life God has given you!  In other words, LAND THE PLANE so that you can take the next step and act! Don’t just talk about all of the great things you are going to do and the impact you are going to make. Act now, and take the next step. I am sure you will have a crowd around you cheering you on and so appreciative that you finally broke out of your holding pattern!

Question: What is the biggest challenge that you face when it comes to breaking out of holding patterns in your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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