25 Jul A New Normal
A“new normal.” Are you familiar with that phrase? I seem to have become intimately acquainted with it in recent months, far more than I would have preferred.
The lab report comes back positive. Big new words are spoken, a diagnosis received, shock absorbed. There was life “before” and then afterwards, the “new normal”: weekly treatments, the side effects of new medications, lots of blood draws, more tests.
The pink slip shows up in this week’s paycheck, unleashing a torrent of questions. How will I get a new job at this age? What about health insurance? How will I pay the rent, groceries, repairs on the car? Who in town in hiring and do I have the skills needed for this “new economy?” A single sheet of paper and all of life is topsy-turvy. A “new normal” is in the offing.
A baby is born and with that first cry, everything changes. Uninterrupted sleep is a thing of the past, at least for a while. Walking out the door unencumbered is now impossible. Diapers and wipes, bottles and cheerios, car seats and strollers, teething toys and baby blankets: 7-pound infants come with hundreds of pounds of gear, not to mention a change in priorities, lifestyle, and relationships. A “new normal” has burst on to the scene.
Relocation approaches. Goodbyes are said, the apartment packed and cleaned, cars loaded. An exciting adventure awaits, full of promise and unknowns. No one has any idea what “normal” will look like in a new city, with a new job, and new friends.
As I have been re-learning for the umpteenth time, each “new normal” is discovered and lived into one day, one interaction, one event, one decision at a time. Sometimes embracing a “new normal” is gut-wrenching and difficult. Change has come to us unbidden. We didn’t choose it or want it. Change forces us into disorientation which is never comfortable and requires both hard work and enormous patience as we sort things out, redefine what we “know,” learn acceptance anew.
At other times, change is good and healthy and a choice we boldly embrace. But even so, it means walking into plenty of unknowns, or leaving behind people, places and things we cherish. Loss and joy are intermingled which requires its own kind of work and patience.
Waiting is a critical aspect of moving towards the “new normal” moments that are part of our lives, and it usually feels as though we are waiting in the dark. Waiting is challenging enough when all the lights are turned on, but in the darkness, waiting can be very scary. That’s why trust must accompany waiting, if we are going to do it well, and if we’re going to learn the lessons, appreciate the gifts, and be prepared for what the next “new normal” entails.
I admit that sometimes I grow weary of dealing with disorientation, waiting in the dark, and accepting change that I don’t really want. I know these are precisely the spaces in which my own growth is most productive and fertile, but I’m weary of it all the same. If you can relate, if you are in the throes of a “new normal” making itself at home in your life, don’t forget to breathe. Be kind to yourself. Let joy or beauty or humor catch you by surprise. These are small graces that help us arrive at “new normal” grateful for the wisdom and maturity we’ve gained along the way.
Yours for the Kingdom,