Navigating a new normal
The "new normal." Oh, how I dislike those words...maybe because I've navigated so many "new normal" seasons in my 49 years that I'm beginning to think that 'normal' is just a setting on a dryer.
The night I gave birth to my first-born son ushered in a "new normal," full of diapers and feedings and no sleep. Once I became accustomed to that new normal, Sam's little body fought at every turn, staying up all night long despite what all the "expecting" books said were the appropriate sleep amounts for infants and toddlers. The new normal was a moving target as his tantrums and behaviors were off-the-scale: something was terribly, terribly wrong.
The hot August afternoon in which I received the diagnosis of autism for my six-year-old little boy, playing in the back seat with a toy car, did not usher in another "new normal." No, it just confirmed what this mama's heart suspected all along. The new normal was navigating a myriad of special education meetings and language and therapists. No one teaches you how to do that.
Yet another new normal came the day I told my abusive ex-husband to leave. I was suddenly an official single mom (although I had been playing the part for years prior) of two elementary-aged boys. This new normal, while filled with moments of grief and pain, legal trauma, and juggling working full-time out of the home while still balancing Sam's special needs and Jacob's life. It was a new normal filled with positive things, without fear of being yelled at, hurt, or punched. It still took getting used to, as far as normals go.
Blending a family when I re-married a man who had a daughter ushered in another "new normal." Why are "new normals" always "ushered" in, as though they're welcome participants to the celebration of your life? "Please sit here, near the front, so you can have a good aisle seat to trip the bride as she walks up the aisle?"
Creating a whole family out of fractions wasn't without its troubles, but as far as new normals go -- we knew it would take work. That's the problem with most new normals -- like the kind that are ushered in, they stay at the ready, sitting unannounced with the congregation, ready to pop a gnarly leg out into the aisle just in time to trip you up, sending you flying into the baptismal pool, wondering what in the world happened? Where is a towel?
The problem with most new normals is that you don't see it coming. Who knew when mystery viruses were running rampant through some people but not others in the winter that the entire world would be shut down for a virus that originated from bat droppings in the spring? Who knew in January that we couldn't get Easter dresses, haircuts, or even corporately celebrate Christ's Resurrection with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Who knew that we'd be begging state governors to open our states so we can't go back to work? Who knew that there would be a huge market for hand-sewn masks?
God knew. This "new normal" did not take Him by surprise. Why should it take us by surprise? James 4:13-14 states, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." The point here is that we don't know what tomorrow will bring.
How do we prepare for the unexpected? How should we act during seasons where normalcy is a moving target and our individual and collective worlds have turned topsy-turvy?
Drawing close to God
We deal with situations such as these by drawing close to God, by salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. We work on our relationship with Jesus by surrendering to Him (and Him alone) through reading of the Bible and through prayer to Him (not to Mary, not to any "saint", but to Christ alone -- the Author and Finisher of our faith). Often, in fact, I dare say most of the time, God uses hard, uncertain times to draw us closer to Him. It's relying on God that will help us the most.
We pray for discernment through the Holy Spirit. 1 John 4:1 states, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." Just because government mandates come from national and state capitals doesn't mean they're from God. Pray for discernment to judge acts that are godly from carnal, and especially ask the Holy Spirit to discern almost-right from right.
We need to discern truth from propaganda. Propaganda is defined as "information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc." We need to search for ourselves the truth on where the Covid-19 virus originated, how it originated, and who owns the patents on it. We need to search for ourselves the truth on who will profit most from the virus and any treatments or vaccines surrounding it.
And, most of all, we need to trust that the Holy Spirit will be with us. We must trust in His presence and guidance through uncertain times. To do that, we absolutely must be in the Word and pray.
When I lived at the beach, right before hurricane season started I made sure we stocked our hurricane preparedness kit with bottled water, canned goods with pop-tops, candles, flashlights and batteries, and copies of important papers such as insurance and medical information. All this was done just in case a hurricane came. It was done way before newscasters announced a storm was on its way. We prepared for storms.
Right now, we need to be preparing for something that we don't know what it will look like -- and there is the hard part. Some things we can do is to be aware of our surroundings, be aware of what is happening locally, in our nation, and in the world. We live in incredibly uncertain times--full of economic downturns, unknowns about war and rumors of war, and emptying store shelves.
I don't know about you, but I like to know I can do something to help my family navigate these unchartered waters. This may mean growing our own food in the form of vegetable gardens, planting fruit trees, or raising chickens. It may mean supporting local farmers at farmers markets and roadside produce stands. Learning how to can and put up your own food is a worthwhile endeavor because you know what's in your food--plus you can re-use jars instead of adding cans and packaging to the landfill.
In these days, know that satan loves to make us scared. It's when we're scared that we tend to fret and worry, and when we pray, we take back those prayer requests we've laid at the feet of Jesus. This isn't good. Lay your burden on Jesus -- He can take them -- and draw closer to Him through the Bible and prayer. Prepare for the unexpected, and ask God to bless the work of your hands.
Keep the faith!
(2022) Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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