How to Abide in the Midst of Turbulence
It has been a long couple of weeks. You know the kind, you’re cruising along nicely and then sort of out of the blue it gets bumpy, really bumpy. There was the dog bite and the tears over art class, then there was the poop all over the bathroom floor. Yes, poop. There was the bad dream in the middle of the night and the not-so-good doctor’s report. There was the canceled appointment that needed to be rescheduled at the not-such-perfect time and that resurfacing conflict showed up at “just the right time”. Oh my, and then it keeps going with emails from the principal, monsters under the bed, and the reshuffling of resources now lost.
It is an all-out battle for peaceful purpose along the path of vision.
I’d like to call it turbulence, and I swear someone just announced over the loud-speaker, I need to remain in my seat with my seat belt on because there is more up ahead. Our survival instincts kick in high gear at the slightest jolt as all the stories and movies of the most harried flights race through our minds. How quickly we are engulfed in questions and doubts all wondering if we’ve been bumped off course or worse, if we’ve been doomed for a crash landing. And I am not talking about crash landing in an airplane; I am talking about crashing your heart, your faith, your dreams.
Can I tell you a little secret about turbulence?
Turbulence, albeit annoying and inconvenient, is totally normal.
Yes, I said normal. And next to never dangerous.
I came across an article by Patrick Smith called “Turbulence: Everything You Need to Know”, where he says:
“From a pilot’s perspective it is ordinarily seen as a convenience issue, not a safety issue. When a flight changes altitude in search of smoother conditions, this is by and large in the interest of comfort. The pilots aren’t worried about the wings falling off; they’re trying to keep their customers relaxed and everyone’s coffee where it belongs.”
This information changes things for me.
He continues: “You are liable to imagine the pilots in a sweaty lather: the captain barking orders, hands tight on the wheel as the ship lists from one side to another. Nothing could be further from the truth. …Indeed, one of the worst things a pilot could do during strong turbulence is to fight it.”
Up until recently I looked at turbulence in my life as an indicator of danger or a broken instrument panel. I lumped all the trials, big and little, together as question marks about my course and destination. Turbulence used to be the measurement of my success. When in reality, these bumps along the way are normal and, while they may require adjustments and attention, there is no need to change course, no need to panic. And it is silly to fight them; that is a complete waste of energy.
Patrick Smith has a comment about that too: “Some autopilots have a special mode for these [turbulent] situations. Rather than increasing the number of corrective inputs, it does the opposite, desensitizing the system.”
Can you pause for a moment and chew on that last line – “desensitizing the system”.
Life gets turbulent and you may wretch through fear but doubting your course or even your destination is futile. Hang on, keep your nose pointed towards the goal and take a deep breath. This is normal life. These disruptions and struggles, this pain, these hard times, they are part of this journey. And it’s ok. Tone down your sensors, make necessary adjustments but whatever you do, don’t fight the turbulence. Instead frame it in the light of process and stay the course.
Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing. Isaiah 26:3-4 MSG
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6 NIV
Peaceful purpose is a mindset of focus no matter the turbulence. And success is staying the course, not flying smoothly.
I am linking up with Woman 2 Woman today to talk about all things Woman with Meredith Bernard and several other online friends. But can I be honest… I think these words of encouragement are for anyone… even you boys!