Wednesday, May 3, 2017
When Normal Becomes Different—and Normal
By Micky Wolf
Were you to be a fly on the wall in the vicinity of my beloved and I in recent days, you’d likely have heard me utter something akin to “Oh, to have my normal life again.”
Realizing that’s not going to happen, I found myself wondering what “normal” means. Not that I didn’t have an idea, but rather than assuming, what is the definition of this oft-used simple word?
Normal…According with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle; conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern (Merriam-Webster)
Ah-hah. Yes, one of those moments.
I am a creature of habit. (Just ask any family member.) Now, before we take me out to the woodshed, that’s not all bad. Routines and patterns can be helpful in living a peace-full, low-stress life. On the other hand, there are a couple of key concepts regarding normal that could lead to other not-so-positive attitudes and behaviors.
Not deviating…it is wisdom to stay on one’s side of the street, in the proper driving lane. It is less than wise to refuse to switch lanes upon discovering a disabled vehicle motionless and moments from contact with your front bumper because “it’s not supposed to there in the first place.”
Conforming to a regular pattern…It is wisdom to establish consistent schedules for eating, sleeping and recreating. It is less than wise to ignore severe weather conditions by driving to Aunt Martha’s through a blizzard or hurricane because “that’s what we do every Sunday afternoon.”
What it boils down to is this—most of us are creatures of habit. (Whether good or bad, is a topic for another time.) For the most part, we tend to prefer not deviating from a norm or certain regular pattern for our day-to-day life.
That is until life happens, upending our neat little apple cart of normalcy.
The upending triggers can run the gamut—a major health crisis, loss of a job, moving into a new home. Or less encompassing but still impactful—an appliance breakdown, a flat tire late at night on the way home from work, a child with a broken heart.
Call me a late learner, but what I’m beginning to accept—and it is a matter of accepting reality rather than fighting against it—is that what constitutes normal may be as fleeting as the day is long. What serves well as a pattern for today, may, in fact, look very different tomorrow.
“Oh, to have my normal life again.”
Not gonna happen. And that’s okay. Why?
Because what you and I see as normal in this moment needs to be understood as a state of being that is open to change and flexibility so that we can cooperate with God in creating new patterns that serve us well in each unfolding aspect of life—whatever that may be.
In light of recent breast surgeries and diagnoses, I have about four weeks to heal before beginning five to six weeks of Monday through Friday radiation therapy. My sense of normal life before all this began was one thing. What it is now is another. What it will be during treatment, yet another experience.
Maybe what we’re really saying when we comment about “having a normal life” is giving voice to our desire for those periods of time—longer rather than shorter—when we can follow a regular pattern, stay with a familiar rule or standard. That’s all well and good, until we realize change is inevitable. Sooner or later…life happens, bringing it with nothing that resembles today’s normal.
Given the circumstances, it can be challenging to accept change that asks of us to allow God and His compassionate love to companion us in establishing new patterns.
At the same time, in our willingness to surrender to Divine grace and mercy, we will never be left alone to deal with the change that is inevitable during our journey on this Earth.
And yes, you have permission to remind me of that Truth should you happen to appear as the proverbial fly-on-the-wall of my life.
What does normal mean to me?
How do I feel when my life is not normal?
How do I feel about trusting God to help me establish healthy patterns, as needed?