How Striving for Normal Ruins Everything (And 3 Simple Ways to Break the Habit)
I sat feeding my baby in the evening’s pre-dawn hours. The bed littered with blankets and burp clothes, and somewhere a long-rejected pacifier I couldn’t seem to find.
Sitting there in the dark I had the same thought for about the hundredth time; If only we could get back to normal.
In my defense, “normal” wasn’t a bad thing.
I longed for rhythm and consistency. A day I could plan *somewhat* without having everything thrown into chaos because my newborn decided to act as his own person.
But the old usual way of living was long gone. The gift of our firstborn forced an updated definition of “ordinary life.” To find a new “normal.”
I’m reminded of this lesson again as I’m home with our second born. As I write, standing at my desk, Connor wrapped tightly to my chest with yards of fabric. We’re bouncing in rhythm to my typing, as well as to the upbeat tempo of 3-year-old Dillon’s nap time music—a song selection more suitable to a workout playlist than sleep, but it works for him.
I have to laugh at the situation, because this is anything but normal. And I love it.
I love it because my boys are miracles, both rainbow babies born after seasons of heartache and loss. (You can read more here: Overcoming Infertility, If You’re Childless on Mother’s Day, and Wish You Weren’t and When God Says No)
I love it because these kiddos are gifts from God and our sweet moments far outweigh the hard ones (even if the hard ones seem to come more frequently.)
I love it because life isn’t stagnant. It’s always changing and I want to grow and move forward with it.
Sure, sometimes I miss how Jared and I could catch a movie on a whim, or we could jump in the car without spending 30 minutes to pack up the house to bring with us. But if I stayed in that place of wishing and striving to get back to the normal that used to be, I’d miss out on every new opportunity I have now. Striving for normal ruins everything about today because it keeps me longing for yesterday.
When my perspective is consumed with today’s mess I forget that yesterday had its own problems. Have you ever been there? I know the Israelites have (yep, I’m going all Biblical on ya).
The Israelite people were enslaved to the Egyptians. Oppressed by them for hundreds of years.
God sent Moses to take them out of captivity.
They walk out of Egypt, carrying the egyptian’s gold with them. Walk through the red sea on their way to the promised land. They get to the desert and are in need of food so God rains down manna for them to eat. FOOD FROM THE SKY.
The manna was like small whitish seeds and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers. (Numbers 11:7–9 CEV)
But the Israelites started complaining.
“We don’t have any meat! In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic. But we’re starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna.” (Numbers 11:4b–6 CEV)
Their shortsightedness makes me laugh. They were in SLAVERY. But when, as a free people, their menu options are limited on the journey into the promised land—which by the way, was land GOD would GIVE TO THEM—they start moaning about the produce they had available in the land they prayed for God to rescue them from. They wanted to ditch the good of today to go back to the normal of yesterday. I can hear them moaning; If only we could get back to normal.
I can SO relate. Can you?
In my life, striving for normal ruins everything. So here are three simple ways I’m learning to break the habit:
1. Asking God for new grace and mercies.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV)
- Grace: giving the good I don’t deserve
- Mercy: withholding the bad I deserve
Lamentations says God’s grace is new every morning. Today, I ask Him for a new infilling. Then, when I’m tempted to want what used to be, I have patience and understanding instead. And any ounce of right perspective I receive, leads to step #2.
2. Practicing gratitude for today.
Some days go better than others, but every day includes many things to be grateful for. Sure, we had a potty training accident at the grocery store. But today, it didn’t involve poop. Thank you Jesus! 🙂
3. Celebrating answered prayers.
This is the best tip I’ve found. Even when I miss the “normal” niceties, I don’t really want to go back to the old place.
We prayed for children for years before they were born. Now that my home is full of children and their stuff, the enemy would have me question the blessing. But I know that our kids are answers to prayer and so I choose to celebrate them as such.
And I celebrate the small daily answers too. When I’m desperate for just a bit more sleep and both youngins somehow take naps at the same time. When I’m discouraged or lonely and asking God for help as a friend sends me a text just to let me know she’s thinking of me.
Maybe your season doesn’t include young kiddos. Perhaps your kids are grown and going off to college or starting families of their own. Or maybe the old “normal” that calls to you is back when your career was less challenging, your business or ministry was less fruitful, or when your home life seemed more manageable. For some of us, the old “normal” is before God answered our prayers to teach us to trust Him—it’s scary when He takes us to places that need faith without borders.
Don’t let the allure of “normal” detract from the new and extraordinary of what God offers you today.
Even ESPECIALLY in the hard, He is there with you.
Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:16–19a ESV)