how to wait well: life between boarding and takeoff

The start of a flight is always my favorite part. Anticipation builds. The familiar ding tells us to buckle our seatbelts. The plane taxis down the runway . . . reverse, forward, right, left.

And the captain makes his announcement loudly over the intercom: Flight Attendants, prepare for takeoff.

The plane picks up speed. In a swift transition, the wheels lock in and the wings take over. The hum of the engine careens us upward, upward, upward. Gravity tugs you backwards and we’re spine-to-seat and as the plane gains momentum, you’re suddenly above the clouds.

I find undeniable gratification in the here-we-go of it all.

But to get to takeoff . . . there’s a whole lot of waiting. Oh if we could just get off the ground and into the sky . . . We’re poised. Ready. Waiting. Seat-tray put in the upright position. Seatbelts fastened. Waiting.

What do we do between ready and takeoff? We wait.

To wait is not easy. After all, we’ve journeyed to the airport, to check-in, through security, to the terminal, down the walkway, to our seats. We’ve listened to the safety presentation. We know there may be turbulence, and still we’re ready. Altogether ready.

This life we’re living feels like that too sometimes, doesn’t it? We’re all waiting for something. Waiting, simply waiting, to fly.

We wait for so many things in this life.

Maybe it’s . . .
. . a job . . . marriage . . . a dream to launch . . . a baby . . . friends . . . direction and guidance . . . the end of pain . . or peace. Maybe it’s peace.

It’s even more frustrating when we’ve prepared. Read the books, listened to the podcasts. Prayed and journaled and poured over verses. Sought guidance and asked for ideas. Oh how our hearts break when we have prepared and it’s takeoff time in our minds!

Waiting is a total weakness for me. I cannot count how many tears have been shed on my pillows in times of waiting, times of hoping, times of wishing and if-only-ing.

So how do we live well between boarding and takeoff? How do we wait well?

Praise God for this moment. When we’re waiting, our total humanity and total brokenness is never more obvious.

We’re rightfully frustrated and rightfully heartbroken. When pain brings us to our knees, and tears drip down our faces, praise feels like the least natural thing.

And in the darkness, it is difficult but redemptive to seek the beauty of where we are. Ann Voskamp writes eloquently about how counting blessings dramatically alters our daily life. Noting those blessings helps the praise flow more easily.

Because this, here, now, today . . . this is life. Waiting or not waiting, scared or frustrated or sad, this is the life we are living. 

Often, we realize these blessings in retrospect, yes? So maybe we gain strength too by reflecting on the last time we waited and how God used that moment and redeemed the waiting. And sometimes that one little praise, whispered under our breath, manifests itself into something bigger and bolder.

Give yourself grace. Waiting is boring at best and full of despair at worst, yes? We are human and especially in times of waiting, it’s okay and good to give ourselves rich grace. Love yourself well; where you can, carve a pocket of time for relaxing and a deep breath or two. (Even if that’s just locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes, do it.)

Sometimes what we’re waiting for is entirely outside our control, and other times we have a little more to do with the situation. After Mr. S. and I got married, I found myself in a new city with no job. Daily, I fell into this cycle of coulda-shoulda-woulda and a little grace for myself didn’t take away the sorrow, but  helped me move past the guilt.

(And while we’re talking about grace, I’m halfway through Emily Freeman‘s beautiful book Grace for the Good Girl. Life changing. Highly recommended.)

Engage in whatever community looks like. Step outside yourself and into the lives of others. Maybe it’s a neighbor, maybe a friend, maybe a co-worker, maybe those at church, maybe family. Pour kindness into others and seize each connection.

And as you build this community, lean into it for strength. Get vulnerable with friends you trust. As you wait for takeoff, seek wisdom and encouragement. When friends offer, accept the love. Let them make you dinner and pour you coffee and wipe your tears. That’s community at its finest.

Before my dad’s kidney transplant, he was often in and out of the hospital. And even when I lived over 500 miles away from my family, it was all so, so hard. I felt uncomfortable explaining what was happening, especially to new friends. To my pleasant surprise, the story was met with love and mercy. Community reached out. (Thank you, friends.)

Use your energy for something good. It’s okay to get frustrated. It’s okay to wallow. But have that bowl of ice cream or glass of wine or slice of pizza or whatever and get back up. Learn something, do something, share something, give something.

And if you are going the ice cream, wine and pizza route? Invite someone to join you because it’s just so much better that way. See: community.

In the darkest valleys of waiting, where depression creeps and anxiety lurks, seek help when you need it. A professional perspective, even in just a few conversations, can make a dramatic and powerful difference. Oh what a difference it makes. It’s hard to ask for help, but redemptive when we do.

Above all, place your hope not in what you’re waiting for, but in He who is bigger than everything. SURRENDER YOUR TEARS. Whether we’re on the runway or in flight, we can rest in the strong arms of Christ.

You can still enter the stationery and Starbucks giveaway! I’m revealing a piece of stationery each day between now and Thursday. One piece is a postcard from the Art Institute of Chicago. I’m originally from the Chicago suburbs and the Art Institute is one of my favorite places in the city. The art on the postcard is by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Blessed to link up today with Write It, Girl and Solo Dei Gloria sisterhood.


14 thoughts on “how to wait well: life between boarding and takeoff

  1. Sarah, my husband always says, “travel is waiting” – unless you fly private. So much of life is waiting, isnt’ it? It’s where He does most of the deep work in me I have found. Great thoughts here on how to approach a season of waiting. And so true about having perspective from a professional. I have a life coach and coach others as well, and it has proven life changing for me.

    • Shelly, thank you so, so much for this. God does work in our waiting for sure! Always love it when you visit.

  2. I love this comparison of waiting for a flight to waiting in life. I have also learned that to find beauty in the waiting makes the flight that much more enjoyable. You are a wonderful author and this was a fantastic post!

    • Tereasa, thank you! Yes, it is such a sweet feeling when what we’ve been waiting for finally happens — and we’ve found beauty in the meantime. So grateful that you visited today!

  3. Beautiful! I can very much relate with the words here. When my husband was waiting and searching for employment (for 3 long years) due to a recession related layoff, we felt so emotional during the wait. We knew God had it all under control, but it didn’t change the emotion we felt. So I wrote a book about dealing with that emotion in a positive and fruitful way, knowing so many other women out there are dealing with the same situation in their homes. I felt strongly that I needed to turn our pain to something good and productive. It does make a difference, and I love how different life seems when I’m counting my gifts. 🙂

    • Amen, Rosann. Such a powerful thing when we focus on what is good and positive about the obstacles we face! Thank you for visiting today!

  4. Beautiful post! I feel like most of life happens during the waiting and yet still I find it difficult! Thanks for your uplifting words here. Blessings!

    • Jennifer, thanks for visiting today! God is good to teach us the lessons we need when we need them for certain.

  5. Pingback: on monotony and washing the dishes. « inspiration-driven life

  6. Pingback: when we face uncertainty « inspiration-driven life

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