Perspective, Plan

Perspective: When We Feel Stuck

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

We were about thirty minutes outside Washington D.C. when the pilot addressed the plane. Something about weather blocking our path to Reagan National Airport. Waiting for it to pass. Plenty of fuel.

And then we began the circling, skimming the edge of huge, cumuli-nimbus clouds, puffy and reflecting the softening light of the setting sun.

As we circled, I found myself glancing out the window every minute or so. There was something awe-inspiring about watching the oranges of the sunset through the openings below the clouds. To see the huge cumuli-nimbus clouds ascending into he sky and the softening colors of the sun on the puffs where I was. And spotting lightning flashes inside the dark gray of the clouds. 

These reminded me how important it was to respect our limitations in light of the storm.

We had somewhere to be, but this storm prevented us from getting there.

Sunlight streaked the higher level clouds with oranges, then periwinkle, and eventually dark gray.

Our lives are sometimes like this. We find ourselves in a holding pattern. Maybe we’re waiting for God to answer a request. Or for a hardship to reach its end—to stop raining on us—and for the sun to come out again. 

Or, we’re in the middle of that storm, trying to make sense of what God’s allowing in our lives. 

Sometimes, God places us in a holding pattern because He is working a change of perspective in our hearts. 

Sometimes, holding patterns protect us from something dangerous on the perimeter of our lives. Something we may not see yet, but that our Father sees. 

Sometimes we skirt the edges of the storm, not quite immersed in it, but very aware of its presence. 

Other times, we have to fly though the tumult to arrive to our final destination.

And sometimes, we are diverted. For our protection.

As our plane carved out very large 360’s in the sky, the tower and our pilot talked of possibly diverting us to Richmond, a couple hours’ car ride away. Because a plane can only carry so much fuel. And the storm was not dissipating.

What do we do when storms derail our plans? 

Lightning blazed in the clouds, becoming more brilliant as nighttime gently overtook daylight.

The sky darkened to indigo above us, blending into lighter blues and a deep orange at the horizon. The first star peeked out. The storm clouds held their territory in the sky, preventing us from descending. 

We have a choice in how we handle changes to our plans. 

We can get bent out of shape because God had the audacity to inconvenience us. 

We can see the change as an adventure (Ahem, I’m not very good at this).

We can view the change for what it is…a chance to trust our Father to protect us. 

When we choose to have flexible hearts in the midst of the unexpected, we will weather those storms with less stress.

When we ride the edges of the storm, and we have no control, can we yield to our Father’s will?

As we circled, people who had sat isolated beside each other began to talk about our shared predicament. 

I prayed. Being diverted was not in my plans. How would we meet our family in the morning? How would we pick up the rental car we’d reserved? Where would we stay the night?  

All of these questions had God’s answers. I just didn’t know what they were yet. 

As turbulence bubbled beneath our plane, I knew God’s hand held us. I just didn’t know how He planned to end this particular “adventure.”

What about when God’s holding pattern lands us in unfamiliar territory? What will we choose? 

As we waited and circled, I prayed for God’s will, but also expressed my wishes.

Sometimes, we end up where we expected to land, which is how our story ended. But, had we diverted to Richmond, I would have accepted His plan and flexed with it.

No matter what’s happening in our lives, we always have the choice to trust Him . . . or not. 

Trusting our Father doesn’t immunize us from experiencing fear, from asking those questions that roil in our thoughts. 

But, when we bring them all to the feet of the One who loves us most, we will come to the place where we walk through the storm in peace. Because we know Who is ultimately in control. 

And we know that He brings good from the storms He allows into our lives.

What about you? How do you flex when plans are derailed? What’s one lesson you’ve learned when God landed you in a place other than you expected?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes God places us in a holding pattern

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and Holley Gerth

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20 thoughts on “Perspective: When We Feel Stuck”

  1. Dear Jeanne, the Lord knew exactly the encouragement I needed when He made us neighbors today. I feel like I’m at a writing crossroads, waiting for Him to reveal the next step of His will. I love what you said about trusting God doesn’t mean not being fearful or having questions. Prayers for a new perspective and greater flexibility, please.

    BTW: Your new bio pic is gorgeous!

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  2. Beautiful pictures and timely prose, dear Jeanne. I’m wrestling to find enough time to write within the hold I’ve been placed in. Although there are gifts in this part of my journey, the delay has pressed me into His hands as I pray for enough faith to trust He has my present and future lovingly in mind. Faith is precious to God. Mine is getting a great workout. 🙂
    Amen to: “…we always have the choice to trust Him … or not.”
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

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    1. Awww, Wendy. It sounds like we may be in the same holding pattern. It can be hard to balance the desires and the need for time with the real-life needs on our time. You are in the best possible place–pressing into God’s hands. I’m praying for you today, dear friend. Hugs!

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  3. those words, ‘respecting our limitations’ jumped right out at me, Jeanne. yes, yes. there’s wisdom and a whole lot of grace in going there, in living out that truth, in trusting God more in the process.

    thanks for going there today, friend …

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    1. Thank you, Linda. In a world that tells us we can do anything we want to, we need to live out the truth. And that only happens as we seek God and trust the limitations He places on us, in our lives, yes? So thankful for you!

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    1. Lisa, trust in the holding pattern seasons IS hard. It’s a constant choosing, isn’t it? And yes, when God brings us through to the other side, we can see the beauty in things learned and character refined to better reflect Him. Thank you so much for stopping by, friend!

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  4. It’s definitely not easy when we feel we’re stuck in a holding pattern or when we have made careful plans that don’t work out. As you say, changing our perspective is key- knowing that God is in charge, that he can use those times to teach us and change us, and that he will get us where we need to be.

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    1. Lesley, it sounds as if you and I may be cut from the same “I love my plan” cloth. When God changes them, we can be like that steel bar trying to stand on the plan, or we can be flexible and bend with His changes. Often easier said than done, but God’s given me (many!) opportunities to learn to bend. You too? Thank you for sharing your insights here, friend!

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  5. Jeanne, beautiful and lovely pictures. I think the older I’m getting, the easier it’s getting to go with the flow, the unexpected flow. I think I just know that God always comes through in one way or another.

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    1. Shelli, I’m finding that to be true as I grow older, too. I’m learning to let go of that white-knuckled grip on my plans and see where He’s leading a little more quickly than I used to. 🙂 Knowing God is always faithful to show up in the changes is a comforting truth. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts, friend!

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  6. Ah, Jeanne … holding patterns. How well I relate to what you’ve articulated here! And this: “We always have the choice to trust Him . . . or not.” Somehow, it always comes down to that, doesn’t it? Wonderful post, my friend.

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    1. Lois, I know you’ve been living out this reality too. May we always be quick to trust the Lord rather than insist on our own plans prevailing. Somehow His plans always have a way of turning out better than anything I dream up. 😉

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  7. Travel can sure teach us so much as often our travel plans do not go according to our itineraries! That must have been quite the adventure watching the storm from your plane window. And a perspective you don’t get from the ground. I like how you mention that God may be working on changing a perspective in our own hearts when things are not moving toward His plan. I have seen him do this in my life, and see myself in that period again now!

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    1. Lynn, watching the storm and the light playing on the clouds was fascinating. It was also interesting to listen as people began to talk about our shared predicament. 🙂 I am forever amazed at how God can use one thing to work in so many different facets of life. When we’re open, we can receive His truths and encouragement and lessons. 🙂 I’m in a holding pattern too, Lynn. Saying a prayer for you today. 🙂

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