If you had to choose which of these pictures represents a normal sunset, would you dare pick one? If you dare to pick one, will you be so bold to say that you would hold every sunset to that standard to close out each day? Would you limit tomorrow's sunset to the one you see today? If the normal sunset is the one you accept daily, when will you ever again run to the window because the newness of the sky takes your breath away? Sometimes it just doesn't work to try to define a normal. Sometimes normal isn't sufficient. Sometimes normal is beyond what will work. Sometimes normal is simply overrated.
But if we need normal, then is it indeed overrated? I won't risk delving into philosophical opinions about "normal," but I do think we have found ourselves with a unique opportunity to re-assess normal on a practical level. We are experiencing a new normal now that has been hard and stressful, and I hear over and over again, "I am just ready to get back to normal!" But what will that really mean? Moving from normal, to new normal, back to some form of the old normal, which then becomes another new normal. Mercy sakes, do we need that much normal in one life? With that being said, I think we can look at several steps we should take as we redefine our personal normal and decide what we will do with it!
Define Normal on a Personal Level
According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary, normal is defined as follows:
noun: a form or state regarded as the norm:STANDARD
adjective: conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
One lesson we have learned over the past month is that normal is not the same for everyone. When we attempt to define normal for others based on our normal, we run the risk of being offensive and possibly obnoxious. We must be very careful to understand that, by definition, normal just means most common. I dare say that for the past month, we would be hard pressed to say there is a normal way you should feel, a normal routine you should have, a normal outlook for the days to come. This new normal is quite abnormal. What we can do with this is look, for ourselves, at how we feel based on our personal situations. What have you learned about the difference in what you most valued a month ago and what you will most value moving forward? Will that change how you do normal? It is ok to feel the way you feel, and it is ok if that is different from most of the people that you know. What you do with those feelings, however, is crucial. Take this opportunity to redefine your normal by determining what you have learned about yourself. Don't worry so much about whether or not others are learning your lessons, and don't try to learn another's lessons. (Lord, help me with this.) Just make sure you let what you have learned make you better! We have barely been in this new normal for forty days, but it reminds me of the Israelites in the desert for forty years. In Deuteronomy 8:2, the Lord told the Israelites that those forty years in the desert were meant "to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart." We are each at a unique place right now. We only know our own situations and feelings - in a sense, we are walking in our own desert. Let's look at our hearts and ask God to reveal to us what He sees. "But be assured today that the Lord your God is the One who goes across ahead of you." (Deuteronomy 9:3) He has already made a way.
Allow for Variables in Your New Normal
As stated before, normal really just means most common. Over the years, the most common thing I have seen regarding normal is that it WILL change. With or without a pandemic or a hurricane or any other type of disaster, normal just changes. The overall peace we have is relative to how we approach change in life. The truth is, we each have a choice every single day. Forty years in the desert certainly presented each Israelite with a daily choice. The Lord said to them in Deuteronomy 30:15, "See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." It is clear that each had a choice. It is equally clear today that each of us has our own choice to make. Will you accept a change today that will lead you to a newness of life you could not imagine? -Maybe your very own promised land. Life and prosperity or death and destruction. Change can be unwelcome and uncomfortable, but it must be allowed. Will we set the example for other believers and the world? Will our new normal reflect a confidence in our God that is unwavering despite the storm? Yes, we can do this!
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set
before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that
you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God,
listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life...
It is Okay to be Uncommon
Not to overstate this, but normal is just most common. I have always tried to teach my children and my students that it is okay to be different. I may have gone so far as to say that normal is a little boring. I mean who really wants to be described as common? It is okay to be uncommon. It is not only okay, it is pretty fantastic! Just think for a minute about your old normal. Think about the great stuff. Think about the stuff you really did not need or want. Think about the stuff that you did because it was fantastic and the stuff you did because it was the common thing to do. What would you change? Maybe now is the time to jump with all you have into that new and uncommon normal that only you can see right now. The Lord has promised us an uncommon existence here and now, if we will love Him with all that we have - "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5) Where would we be without the uncommon love of Christ. A love that takes us as we are and asks only for love in return. A love that is free to be shared with the whole world. What will you do with your new normal?