I took up running about nine years ago. Not just for the physical and emotional benefits, but mostly because it was one thing I could do to be alone and not disrupted by my two wonderful children who were ages 10 and 7 at the time. I would put my phone on do not disturb, throw my ear buds in and listen to worship music. This was my alone time with God and still is to this day.
During my run recently, God reminded me that I have experienced a “new normal” twice in the past seven months. If you are anything like me, I do not like change. I have a type-A personality and the constant talk about the “new normal” is driving me crazy! But, God reminded me how my two “new normal” situations have actually been good, and I’ve grown immensely from them.
A not-so-final goodbye
I went through a new normal when my 19-year-old son went away to college this past August. My heart was hurting and I was worried that I didn’t teach him everything he needed to know about life. Would he fall away from his faith? What if he got sick? Is he eating properly? The list could go on and on and I knew my life would never ever be the same again. Our family of four for the past 18 years was now learning how to be a family of three. I was missing my personality twin in the house. My son and I both share an introverted disposition and thrive in peaceful situations with no confrontation, unlike my husband and daughter.
After a few months, my “new normal” had now become my “normal” and I have to say, it was not too bad. Lower grocery bill and less laundry were a couple of perks from this new life. I was finding joy again. Psalms 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” For me, whenever I see the word joy I also think of the word contentment. Those two words are synonymous to me and bring me comfort to know I can always find contentment in our Lord.
Seriously, another new normal?
Fast forward 7 months and my son returned home from college for spring break. Unbeknownst to any of us, this was the end of his college-dorm-living days. While home for spring break he received an email that said he had a couple of days to move out of the dorm due to this pandemic. So once again, my normal life which I just became accustomed to was shifting again to a “new normal.” This time, though, my heart did not hurt for myself, it hurt for my son. He wasn’t able to say goodbye to his friends. He didn’t have time to process moving back home. He even had to leave the small classroom setting with professors he had built relationships with and finish out classes online and alone.
During this time of attempting to embrace our new normal—which shifts often—I can see God’s hand on so many things in my family’s lives and the lives of others. I am reading through the book of Ecclesiastes and learning more about Solomon, who is known to be the wisest man to ever live. Repeatedly throughout this book is the theme that everything under the sun in meaningless.
Unfortunately, it takes a pandemic for many of us to focus on what really is important and what we thought was important is truly meaningless. I can see the stress that my kids normally carry is somewhat lifted because the hustle and bustle is gone. People are going out of their way to help others financially, emotionally and prayerfully. While most of us parents are stressed or worried about how this is affecting our children, I believe our kids will come out of this stronger and more appreciative. God is good and He always brings good out of bad situations.
My final words of encouragement come from Matthew 6:34. We are reminded to give our attention to what God is doing right now and not to get worked up about what may or may not happen. He will help us deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Let’s focus on what today brings and be grateful for the little things that usually get overlooked.