Many of you already know my husband flies airplanes. He’s always telling us stories about the folks he flies with, the passenger and the fellow employees alike. Sometimes it’s pretty funny stuff and other times it’s sobering; all in all it’s quite entertaining. We look forward to the tales he spins when he arrives home from a trip. But, as much as I love a good story, I think what I’ve learned from him more than anything in all these years is terminology. “Airport language” I like to call it. For example he might say, “it looks like a mechanical delay, I’ll be stuck in Dallas for a while.” Or, “we were low on fuel and there was weather so we diverted to a closer airport.” “We had to sit on the ramp for quite a while until a gate opened up for us.” “I did my walk-around in twenty degree weather today.”
I understand exactly what he is saying and I don’t think twice about it.
I’ve been trained, schooled, whatever you want to call it.
Recently my man and I were talking about our life and our empty nest and what comes next. I was telling him how I feel kind of stuck in time. I have no children who need me on a day-to-day basis, I’ve had the same job for eleven years, we’ve lived in the same home for ten years, we’ve gone to the same church for eleven years, we’ve had the same dog for fourteen years, shoot, I have shirts in my closet that are fifteen years old. It’s been a whole lot of the same for a very long time.
Well, except there are three important people missing from our home and a parent that is in heaven.
That’s been difficult.
But the everyday things keep rolling on and it feels like we’re waiting for whatever’s next but nothing’s changing.
I was explaining this to him in the best language I could, it’s hard to capture the mood swings of the heart into words. It was then he said something that I’ve heard at least ten thousand times before but never in this context, it fit and made perfect sense.
He said, “It kind of feels like we’re in a holding pattern.”
Yes and yes! That’s EXACTLY how it feels. Like we’ve been told by “tower” to type in a coordinate and stay there for a while flying in circles until notified. And so, hypothetically, here we are flying around and around and our people are no longer on the plane, but we’re still flying. Round and round.
I am dizzy from the circles and ready to be notified.
Many of you empty nesters will understand what I am talking about. It’s like you leave the last kid at college, drive away sobbing, go home to an empty house, take several weeks to adjust and then you look around once you’ve somewhat recovered and say, “what now?” And I don’t mean the weepy, “what are we going to do with ourselves now that we have no kids in the house? I think I might just die!” I mean, the “what do you have for me now Lord? I can think straight again and the tears don’t come as often, what’s next?”
I’m asking myself a lot lately “have I hit a mid-life crisis?” Am I going to be one of those people who sells everything, buys a camper and drives around to old camp grounds using the port-a-potty? And will I proudly display each and every state we visit on a bumper sticker that covers the back window? Or will I buy my dream car and take off on a road trip stopping in every small town to eat with the locals? I imagine you can meet some great people that way. Or will I fly standby at my own risk and see the world one airport at a time? Maybe I’ll take mission trips or move to a remote village in Africa. Wait, do they have indoor plumbing in small villages in Africa? I’m thinking the Lord needs to speak REAL CLEARLY if I am going to a place where there is no indoor plumbing for more than a minute. What if I invent something, like a gadget for the kitchen or write a book that somebody besides my husband would like to read.
There’s just so many possibilities.
And yet, tomorrow morning I’ll get up and go to work and do exactly what I’ve done for the last decade. On a side note here, I love my job and the people I work with, so there is no dread in being there. And, it seems, for now, that’s exactly where God wants me. But, I still can’t help but wonder “what’s next, Lord?”
It’s hard to wait.
It’s difficult to be patient while the Lord works out the “next” part. I want to run into the next season of my life with arms wide open and get started with whatever it is. I type that with a smile on my face because many of my faithful readers know I thought I might die a month or so ago. Thankfully, the Lord hears and answers our prayers and I feel I am adjusting more and more each day to my “new normal.” I don’t love it yet, but I am definitely taking steps toward healing.
It’s the waiting that’s hard to bear.
You know, now that I feel I am somewhat ready to face the daunting future with some excitement, it seems like the future looks an awful lot like the past. I’m not sure how I feel about that, I don’t know what I was expecting? Maybe what I’m doing now is what I’m supposed to do for the next decade, who knows? I do know the Lord has brought me through pain and loss and many good times, He’s taught me so much as we walked the tough and easy roads together. I’ve learned through experience that I can trust Him with my “next.”
Even if it looks an awful lot like yesterday.
These are just a few of my thoughts today, nothing real theological or important really. I guess my writings really aren’t meant to be anything more than one person being transparent with another. This is my real life, my inner thoughts and I bet one of you can relate to how I feel. How about we keep doing what we’re doing and trust God is using it for others and for our own good. I am going to try and quit thinking so much about “next” and focus on making my “now” the best it can be.
We aren’t promised anything more.
Holding patterns aren’t so bad, most times they help to avoid bad weather or overcrowded airports or worse…I think I’ll hold steady and wait for “tower” to give me clearance. Besides, the weather up here above the clouds and next to the Son is pretty glorious.
Isaiah 40:31-1 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”