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The need for Normal

Recently, I was out running errands and decided to do something I haven’t done in a very long time: go through the drive-thru at Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee.

Since we’ve taken a very conservative approach to keeping ourselves safe in the COVID-19 era, this favorite-thing-to-do has been a thing-of-the-past until then.

However, on that day, I had such a longing for Normal that I decided to take the precautions needed and totally savored that first familiar sip of a medium-hot-with-cream.

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to tell Dave, “I did something normal today!”

When Normal evades us

We all long for Normal on some level, but this previously reliable friend has become quite an evasive character in this currently upside-down season of our lives.

However, while COVID-19 has been a powerful force in altering our relationships with Normal, the truth is this dynamic can take place when we’re knee-deep within any intense time of our lives.

When we’ve lost a job or faced financial hardship.

When we’re experiencing some type of health crisis for ourselves or someone we love.

When we’re in the midst of short- or long-term caregiving.

When a loved one is journeying through the final days at end of life.

Longing for Old Normal

There’s nothing wrong with longing for Old Normal—and sometimes we can do little things that allow us to step back into its embrace.

When our routines have been turned upside down by virus-related restrictions, we can focus on the things we can still enjoy, rather than those that are off limits for a while.

When money is tight, we can enjoy something simple and familiar that doesn’t cost a thing.

When health is on the fritz, we can do something low-key that allows us to rest in the process.

When caregiving leaves us feeling overwhelmed, we can embrace a simple routine of renewal, even if it’s brief.

When a loved one is journeying through end-of-life days, we can savor each moment by learning how to balance their needs with our own.

Balancing what’s old with what’s new

As we go through various seasons of our lives, meeting a new form of Normal is a pretty common thing.

While that can be a difficult process, I think there are things we can do to help smooth the way.

After all, meeting New Normal doesn’t mean we have to discard Old Normal altogether—since this friend has provided a lot of structure and comfort along the way.

In fact, finding a way to balance both the old and new iterations of Normal can help us adjust as we age.

Jesus provided a perfect example of this after he rose from the dead.

In John 21, his disciples are in the midst of many shifting Normals.

After all, they’ve just gone through a period in which their Lord had gone from receiving the accolades of Palm Sunday to being killed within the week.

From being placed in a tomb to rising from the dead.

And in this particular passage, although Jesus has made post-resurrection appearances, they’ve not yet received clear direction about what to do next.

So, they do an Old-Normal thing.

They go fishing.

And after they’ve spent the night tugging in their empty nets, Jesus appears on the morning shore (though they don’t immediately know it’s him), and asks them about their catch.

“Nada,” they reply (or something along those lines).

So Jesus tells them to put their nets down on the other side of the boat (and I can just see a cranky and exhausted Peter rolling his eyes).

But, when they do so and then try to pull in the net, it’s so loaded with fish they can’t get it in the boat.

The sudden arrival of this Not Normal is when Peter realizes it’s Jesus standing on the shore.

So he dives into the water and scrambles toward his Lord.

However, when he and the rest of the disciples arrive, Jesus doesn’t do some New-Normal thing one might expect from a risen Savior.

Instead, he builds a fire and cooks breakfast for them all to share.

Now, Jesus may have had specific reasons for choosing such an Old-Normal thing at that particular point in time.

After all, he knew these men he loved were hungry and feeding them would’ve been a practical thing to do.

And he was a servant leader, so he might’ve been modeling this dynamic for them.

Or maybe he wanted to provide evidence that in his risen form, he had a real body that functioned like everyone else’s.

It may have been any or all of those possibilities.

But one thing I’m willing to bet is that in the midst of all the New Normals the disciples were facing, getting to do such an Old-Normal thing with their beloved Lord was quite comforting.

And I think the same is true for us.

We may not be able to will away the New Normals in our lives that represent changes that are hard to accept.

But perhaps we can embrace them more easily by allowing Old Normal and New Normal to join hands once in a while as we balance the comforts of yesterday with the challenges that are ahead.

Feature photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash.

This post first appeared in the latest edition of The Empowered Traveler™ Newsletter. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can do that here: Subscribe to Sue’s newsletter.

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