Life in a Holding Pattern

Last weekend, we enjoyed a quick trip to the beach. It was great to spend time with family and relax a little, but road construction made the trip there and back slow. While creeping along at 3 mph or sitting in a parking lot of traffic, I thought about how we often experience similar slowdowns in life. We are happily cruising along when everything suddenly comes to a standstill, and we are stuck for an indefinite amount of time with no hint of forward motion.

Following are some thoughts on navigating life in a holding pattern:

Don’t Fight It

When sidelined in a life pause, it’s hard not to fight the situation. We chafe at delays, and like a racehorse at the starting gate, stomp and snort with impatience to move beyond the barrier and sprint forward.

When life requires waiting, coping with resistance is challenging, but pushing against what is happening is a useless waste of energy and time. Instead, accept the holding pattern and think about possible reasons and benefits.

Quell Impatience

On the way home from the beach, we stopped at a drive-thru to pick up food. We were already later leaving than anticipated, so a long line wasn’t a welcomed sight. Ten minutes later, the line hadn’t moved. Impatience became a palpable presence in our car. Our daughter decided to order online and go inside for pickup. Ultimately, our stop lasted almost an hour.

Sometimes, elements of daily existence feel as if they are moving in slow motion. Even when we try to circumvent delays, we often find our efforts ineffective. Patience must be cultivated and regularly practiced because it isn’t a natural part of our humanness.

Life provides so many learning opportunities, but often emotion prevents us from taking advantage of life lessons. Quell impatience long enough to ponder, assess, and learn from a holding pattern.

Recognize Benefits

When I think of life in a holding pattern, I think of air travel. If you’ve ever been on a plane that sits on the tarmac indefinitely, or one that flies in circles waiting to land, you’ve experienced a holding pattern.

Often, life is similar to air travel delays. When in a holding pattern, our vision doesn’t extend behind the scenes. We don’t have the benefit of the air traffic controller’s radar. We don’t observe the multiple blips on the screen that alert too many aircraft in the air space and potential danger. We’re unaware of issues close by that may result in a crash. We can’t see unsafe situations or damage that may occur if we move forward before the path is clear. In short, a holding pattern in life is not designed to frustrate, but to protect.

God is the One who sees all we cannot see and knows the danger that is beyond our vision. When you are in a holding pattern, trust God to guide, protect, and chart the best course for your future.

“Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you” Psalm 27:14 TLB


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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  1. I can relate! It is hard to be on “pause!” I am trying to make the best of it by catching up on some former projects However, I can’t say I am enjoying it but trying to learn from it.
    Thanks for the encouraging insight!

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