Today is a new day , but it’s a little like yesterday. There’s still plenty to do and things that won’t get done, but somehow today is different. There are still 24 hours in this day; the wish for an extended day has yet to be granted, but something is different. Many of us are cooking, eating, or preparing to cook and eat as we always do, but somehow today feels different.
What’s different for you today that wasn’t this way a year ago or even yesterday? As I pose the question, I know what’s new for me, and you know what’s new for you. It’s your new normal.
The word new suggests that you have something you haven’t had before, and inherent in that meaning is joy and exhilaration. Conversely, that newness could also be unwanted and terrifying. We all feel it as we experience the vicissitudes of life, but who among us has mastered the art of embracing our new normal? As a Master Teacher, I’ve gone to all my usual haunts–perused the web, conversed with scholars, and scoured the globe in search of a Master Normalist, and I came up empty. I believe that this person exists, but you won’t have to go to extremes to find her (or him). Just look around and listen. Those Master Normalists are living among us. Some have been captured in film, in print, and in our hearts. Without realizing it, they’ve been teaching us to master our new normal by the ways in which they have lived.
I remember hearing a song on the radio last Christmas that I’ve listened to for years without giving it a second thought. This year when I heard it playing downstairs on Pandora, I raced to the source of that song at break-neck speed before the holiday crooner could even part his lips. I made it just in time, but his words played in my head anyway. After all, I’d heard this sad song for decades. Its singer claims that Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the ones you love. He takes it further by saying that the New Year isn’t a new year without the ones you love. This isn’t news, Sir. Most of us might agree with that assertion on varying levels. What I disagree with is the intent of his dirge which only serves to bring us down when we should be joyful, expectant, and hopeful.
Yes, things have changed. Yes, we have all experienced loss. Yes, we miss certain traditions, customs, or norms. But what have we done to embrace our new normal? When I’m sad or feeling sorry for myself, I find a way to serve. It’s a temporary fix at first, but when it becomes my routine reaction to sadness, this becomes my new normal. Does it fill the void that’s there? Not exactly, but it takes the focus off me and my feelings so that I can serve those who may have bigger voids with no hope of filling them.
Other times I write–using this vehicle to reach others who may be feeling what I’m feeling, and my intent is to offer hope. If you can’t serve others today, pray that God reveals a way for you to embrace your new normal and to help others do the same. When you do that, expect God to move in unexpected ways. He’s so unpredictable I’ve found. Your answered prayer may not come packaged the way you expect it to come. His vision for us is impossible to conceive with our limited view. When you pray that prayer, expect abundance. You won’t be prepared for that new normal either because it, too, will arrive sooner (or later) than you expect it to arrive.
Finally, embrace your new normal, and revel in it. It is a gift that’s meant only for you. Though others may be experiencing the same thing, your unique response to it will impact your life and all who watch you master it. May the author and finisher of our lives reveal a snapshot of his plan to you this day as only the Master can, and when he does, please share it with us here.