I’m a frequent flyer and travel with my husband on a fairly regular basis. Even with all my travel experience I still take a knuckle-white grip on the armrests when we encounter turbulence. Life is much like flying in an airplane. There is turbulence more often than not, but just like the airplane, we are built to handle the turbulence in life.
Sometimes It’s More Than Turbulence
My uneasiness about turbulence comes with good reason. Twenty-three years ago we crash-landed onto an airfield in Cancun Mexico. At the end of our week-long vacation, we took a little puddle jumper from Cozumel to Cancun. From there we had planned to get on a jetliner headed for home. The aircraft was small but full, with about 25 passengers. As we loaded the plane, a cute girl in a short mini skirt coerced her way onto our sold out flight. Without a seat, the pilots found her a place to sit right in between them on a crate in the cockpit. Blame it on the lack of flight restrictions in Mexico or the pilots trying to impress a girl – either way, we all felt a little uneasy about the situation.
During our 15 minute flight, we all had a full visual of the situation up front. Cute girl flirting with pilots and young pilots trying to impress all added up to distraction. An unlevel horizon and an incorrect angle for the descent caused the landing gear to buckle upon impact. It’s hard to explain the thoughts rushing through your head as you slide down a runway on the belly of a plane. Unsure if we might be flipping end over end and into a ball of flames any second I thought our 3-year-old son at home. The baby I was almost three months pregnant with. Regrets for not having a will, and trepidation about whether our impending deaths would be quick and painless.
We Are Built For This
A friend shared something he heard on a plane, and it immediately made me think of this experience. As his airplane was preparing for taking off, the pilot got on the intercom and warned of possible turbulence during the flight. Then in a reassuring voice said: “We can handle it and so can the plane.”
We are each sent to earth with the equipment and abilities we need to endure the turbulence in life. A downward spiral can feel a little terrifying, even discouraging. When we hold steady and remember we were built to handle the turbulence, we can see a glimpse of hope shining in the distance. We all have times when we need to hope for something better. When we need to cling to a promise of good things to come. Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with for how to handle the turbulence in life.
Just like the pilots on our commuter flight we can become distracted by “things.” Emotions, like being overwhelmed and feeling fear, can distract our focus and make any situation harder than it needs to be. Those emotions are usually rooted in the stories I tell myself about any given situation.
It always helps me to focus on the facts. I try to take all of the emotion out of what I’m thinking and see what is really happening. Focus on what you can do, what is important, and what you can change. If we get distracted in the drama, the negative emotions, and self-pity the situation will feel overwhelming causing us to doubt our ability to handle all that might be happening.
Remember Nobody is Perfect
Sometimes our expectations cause turbulence in life. We expect ourselves or others around us to react and respond in a certain way. Remembering we are all learning and growing in this life and allowing for patience as we figure it out is hard but so helpful.
When something small threatens to destroy your attitude and positive outlook, remember everyone makes mistakes. Whether it is yourself or someone else who caused the situation, keep in mind mistakes are a normal part of life and happen to everyone. Don’t let one bad moment take you by surprise.
It can be hard to forgive someone else when it feels like they have only added extra work and stress for you. When someone rear ends your vehicle, you may be tempted to lash out at them verbally. However, stop and think about how it may feel to be in their situation. Don’t act as though you’ve never made a mistake, but choose empathy instead.
Sometimes forgiving others can seem easier than forgiving ourselves. Too often, we treat ourselves worse than we would allow a friend to treat us. Be kind to yourself as well as others.
If I think about how I would handle a similar mistake made by a good friend it helps me to stop beating myself up. Negative thoughts can be our worst enemy when navigating the turbulence in life.
Will It Matter In Ten Years
We all have problems, and when you’re in the middle of it, any problem will seem big. Perception is not always the truth, and it is up to us to put our situation into perspective so we can properly deal with whatever comes our way.
When something negative happens in your life, ask yourself if it will matter in ten years. If it won’t, let it go. If someone says something unkind, you may be tempted to lose your cool, but it is simply not worth it. Save your emotions for life-changing things deserving of your full attention.
BONUS: Always Wear Your Seatbelt
Wearing your seatbelt is not to keep you from encountering turbulence it is to protect you during turbulence. God has given us commandments to protect us. When we follow them we are not guaranteeing life will not have trials or hardships, but we will have the ability to better withstand what might get thrown in our way.
Remember we are built for this. Even a crash landing can have a good ending. There is supposed to be opposition in all things. Life is supposed to be hard — it is what helps us grow and become better, smarter, and stronger. One of the best things I’ve started telling myself is “It’s supposed to be this way.” Just letting my brain know it’s okay helps me deal with the turbulence in the best way. You’ve got it covered! I promise. Just take a deep breath and trust yourself.
How do you handle the turbulence in your life?