25 May A New Normal
WHAT WILL BE YOUR NEW NORMAL?
Can I be honest with you? ‘New normal’ is one of those phrases that is really getting under my skin. It seems you can’t turn on the TV, or read or listen to anything these days without someone talking about how things are, or will be, in our ‘new normal’.
These discussions are usually always about how work will change, continuing social distancing, air travel, wearing masks, a depressed economy, etc. Uplifting stuff. Occasionally we get an injection of insight – what have we learned, who really are the important workers at this time, how can we make sure they are truly valued for what they do, how do we protect the vulnerable in society.
I’ve been trying to think about some big questions during this time. What have I learned in lockdown? What do I need to change? What good stuff will I keep once we’re through this? How can keep wearing my jammy bottoms until lunchtime! My ‘new normal’ will have me travelling less for work, spending more time with my family, exercising daily, eating better, reading my Bible more, spending less money, praying more, relaxing more. But aren’t these just like New Year resolutions. Won’t I be all biz for a few weeks or so and then things will go back to, well … normal? Surely life will just get too busy again.
Every 50 years or so I have a useful thought. This might be it. It might not. But it all hinges on really understanding that word ‘normal’. Normal is routine, ordinary, usual, settled, dare I say boring even. But in fact most dictionaries define the word normal very differently. It says normal is ….. ‘conforming to a standard’. A STANDARD.
Instead of thinking about what THINGS I want to keep doing, or the ACTIVITIES I want to do in the future, the real question becomes what are the STANDARDS I want to hold onto to going forward. Thinking about activities and stuff leaves me a little down. I’ll never be able to do that when things go back to normal. I just won’t have the time. However, thinking in terms of standards takes me to the heart of why I want to do things differently. And leaves me free to work out the how.
I want to go on walks every day with my daughter. Why? Because I love her and we enjoy spending time together. Because we laugh and have fun. And I should have been doing it more. I’ve enjoyed doing some of my meetings online. Why? Because it’s much more time efficient. Why? Because it’s time I would have spent in a car. Why? Because it’s time I can use for other things.. I love the new ‘smoothie time’ in our house. It’s become a real family thing in our day. Why? Because it gets Rhonda off my case for not eating enough fruit and veg. Why? Because it’s something healthy we can all do together. I’m actually enjoying not having money to spend on things like coffee and takeaways and eating out. Why? Because these are luxuries I don’t really need. Why? Because it reminds me that God provides what we need, not what we want. Note: curry chips are excluded from this point!
So now that I know the why, when things go back to normal and we’re really busy doing life again, I can think of other ways to keep the same standard. The why is important not the how. So the next time you hear someone talk about our ‘new normal’ try to think about the new standards in your life that you want to continue with or set. Try to think about why rather than how. Think of it in terms of the purpose behind the activity rather than the activity itself. If we can really get the why into our hearts, and keep reminding ourselves, then I’m sure we can work out a how.
This is so much easier said than done I know, and I am most definitely the worst of sinners. But I really believe if we don’t take this once in a lifetime opportunity to change how we think about our new normal, then I’m sure we’ll end up regretting it – a bit like some of my New Year resolutions.
God bless, stay safe.