Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 25, 2017

The View From Thirty Thousand Feet

At 30,000 feet over the Southwestern desert, I’m reminded of a word that was spoken over me about my love of airplanes and flying: “You’re supposed to be above it all.”

I find myself in the middle of a story where old things are ending and new things are starting (or startling, depending on what they are). We all know from the house-flipping craze that the first step to a remodel is bringing in the demolition crew. And while it looks exciting and encouraging in its edited form, being surrounded by swinging sledge hammers and flying debris day in and day out is somewhat difficult. In fact, it’s easy to start believing that this is how it will be from now on: all destruction, all the time.

Truth be told, that has happened and can happen. We’re not that dumb – if it rains, we go inside. If fire breaks out, we escape. If the circumstances start to crumble, we’re smart enough to run. It’s not rocket science.

Except, in this case, it’s not always right to get out of difficult circumstances. Ask anyone who quit exercising if they got more healthy by doing so. Some scenarios are meant to chisel of off you what doesn’t belong so you can become the beautiful thing you’re meant to be.

Here’s the rub: the last time you started a season, the same thing happened. It chiseled you. You lost something. You grew to appreciate what was left. And just as you made peace with it, the chisel struck again, and you lost something. Perhaps something bigger (or a lot of littles – same thing).

We seem fixated on getting stabilized, not realizing that we are pottery in progress. No wonder so many are unhappy, unhopeful, and content to be tossed around by life. They spend their time getting calloused so nothing will hurt, not understanding that pain is important. And getting uncalloused takes a lot of rest and attention that life does not gracefully make room for.

As I watch the wings flex in the relative wind outside my window, I am reminded how efficient birds are. When we copied them, we tried to make wings that were stiff enough to support us, but light enough to fly. Birds not only have that covered, but they include the mechanical complexity to fold and store them away in a space so small, you hardly notice them. We eventually learned that flexibility is not an option for wings, if you want to fly comfortably. The degree of flex is up for debate, but you will flex. Stability and flexibility are brothers, not enemies.

Our best course of action is to learn to flex with the situations we encounter. That means less pride. It means not being an enforcer but an example. It also means being an expert on who you are. Only then can we have peace during demolition, fun as we learn the new stage, and find ourselves above it all.

Because it’s really beautiful up here.


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