Normal…what is normal
Seven months ago, I was just home from the hospital after my bicycle accident in which I was forced into life being ‘on pause’ if you will. I was under strict orders to rest, on screen restrictions, and limited activity. Life would change moving forward. The first week, I was a little fuzzy and grateful for the time to rest. But after the first week or so (as I remember it), I couldn’t wait to get back to normal in which I could resume ‘normal’ activity.
However, as time moved forward, while I was recovering, it became evident that my normal would be soon be a ‘new normal’ and different to what I was used to. As many of you know, and gracefully watched, it took time for me to find the new rhythm and feel like myself. It took some time, but eventually after some faithful physical therapy, many appointments, and learning (and re-learning) my limits and rhythms of life and ministry I was cleared by my concussion doctor (the other doctor is still pending and delayed due to coronavirus).
Just as January came around, I would be able to feel myself again…with a new norm, routine and rhythm of ministry and life.
Then just 8 weeks later, we would quickly go into a frenzy pace of life as we would be ordered to go ‘on pause’ as the coronavirus arrived and we all discovered and learned words and phrases such as: covid19, PPE’s, flatten the curve, remaining socially distant.
And now, as the world has been impacted by the coronavirus, we, here in NY, wonder what it looks like to ‘go back to normal.’ We ask when will things go back to normal? Or say phrases such as ‘when life returns to normal’ We, a culture and society who seems to thrive on chaos and busy-ness cannot wait until things get back to normal.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase ‘when things go back to normal’ and have wondered… what is normal? There’s a saying out there that says “normal, it’s just a setting on the dryer.’
Webster defines normal as “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern”
Normal is a regular pattern. For the past several weeks, our norm has been halted and we have had to discover a new norm. We now think twice before we go to the store, we stay home, we have learned to communicate with one another in an entirely new way as we have had to rely once again on phones, social media and technology. We have learned to be content with what we have and prioritize our needs versus our wants.
Some of us have maybe prayed more, learned how to adapt to the quiet and slower pace of life in which we can now savor the moments and days, and listen.
While for some of us, the pace has quickened as the work has been a new experience in learning how to teach from a distance and on a computer screen, or the workload larger because co-workers were sick or not able to make it in. And for some, lives have been put on the line as frontline workers as you have served and provided grace, care, compassion and service for a frenzied toilet paper hoarding people. Some of us, had to learn how to grieve in an entirely new way…from a distance. We have learned new ways to connect, extend care to one another and even worshipped over social media and the list goes on and on.
In Exodus, we find the Israelites in the Old Testament, wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years, they wanted to go back…but they kept going forward. I’m not saying we’re in the wilderness (or maybe we are), but going back to normal … is that what we really want?
I wonder…how has these weeks so far ‘on pause’ impacted and changed your life? What is it that you miss? What is it that you don’t miss? What does normal look like for you? Was your normal really that good?
These will be questions I will be asking myself as we wait to ‘go back to normal’ I encourage you to do the same.
In the meantime, I leave you with the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Philippi:
Philippians 4:4-9 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Stay tuned for more reflections on normal, transformation and renewal as this is just one part for the week.
May the peace of Christ be with you today and always,