Wednesdays with Jillene: a “new normal for now”

This morning my alarm buzzed… I didn’t get up. Must have hit snooze, so it buzzed again. Still didn’t get up.

A tiny voice said quietly, “Mom, what are we having for breakfast?”

My eyes opened to the realization it was morning number 3 of the “new normal for now.

Does your life look like that? No, I’m not asking whether or not you will admit to having the bad habit of hitting snooze or if there are small people in your life regularly asking for food. What I mean is, are your days looking a little different from your norm?

For our family, we knew our lives were about to change drastically when on Friday the governor of West Virginia announced the indefinite closing of K-12 schools. From there, each day sometimes several times a day it seems things keep changing. You might have heard people say, “The situation is fluid” or “This is a rapidly changing situation.” For sure! We’ve felt that as changes came on multiple fronts: school, work meetings, grocery stores, church services, planned trips.

And each day we wake up to live the “new normal for now.”

That’s what I am calling it: the new normal for now. From my own personality, to raising a family, to running ministries… my life thrives on the things that can be scheduled, understood, predicted and managed.

But right now, so much doesn’t look like what I’m used to seeing.

What we’re looking at is our new normal for now. Why do I call it that? Because I recognize that while we are facing uncertain times and while we cannot change that fact, what we can choose is how we will respond.

A few days ago one of my children expressed that he wanted an ostrich for a comfort animal. He was (mostly) joking. But the truth is, as much as we might want to do so, we can’t just bury our heads in the sand. We also can’t act like a bull in china shop, trying to tear apart the whole world either.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a poignant scene which regularly speaks wisdom to me. And even if you don’t know the story of The Lord of the Rings (and if you don’t I highly encourage you to read it), I think you can understand the sentiment the dialogue conveys. “I wish it need not have happened in my time.”

Given all that is happening around the world, across our country, in our own backyards and our own houses, it is understandable that we too may look and say, “This is something I wish I never had to see!”  Yet, here we are. We don’t have a choice or the ability to change the reality that our world looks different right now.

But we do have the ability to decide “what to do with the time that is given us.”

For me, I realized I can’t wait for this to be all done and over to find the new normal. Instead, even though I don’t like and can’t control what is happening, I can face the situation head on and deciding to live intentionally in our new normal for now.

So, what does that really mean?

~It means I have to be honest about how I’m feeling. It isn’t easy to have your regular routine completely gone and the future filled with uncertainties of a magnitude I haven’t faced before. I need to intentionally be honest with the right people, in the right way at the right time. Otherwise feelings can boil over to the wrong people, in the wrong way at the wrong time.

~We are creating a new routine/schedule. Whether that be changes to our morning wake up times, scheduling educational activities and school time, choosing to add several times of physical activity morning and afternoon, determining what worship and Bible study at home will look like weekly/daily, making a new menu based on food available, or choosing to plan for the short-term and not be overwhelmed by looking ahead farther than we can see…

~Focusing on making healthy choices: physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Remembering to breathe, take a walk, choose a nap, stop scrolling through social media, call to talk with a friend, eating regular meals and getting a good amount of sleep nightly… each of these things can make a big difference.

~Prioritizing Bible study, worship, prayer and discipleship… for myself and our family. I make an effort (though I often fail) to have the first thing I use my phone for each day is to ready my daily Bible devotion. Right now I’ve been doing a read-through-the-Bible study through YouVersion with a few friends. Worshipping God in song focuses my thoughts on the Lord and reins in my easily distracted heart. During this time worship as a family will look different, both as a family under one roof and as a church family. But we can do it!

~Looking for opportunities to serve, help, support, comfort and minister. Even when practices of social distancing keep up physically apart, social media allows us to connect like never before. This is an opportunity to harness the possibilities that technology provides to stay connected and to utilize the talents and spiritual giftedness God has blessed us with to minister to others. While it doesn’t look like what we’re used to and can’t replace face-to-face interactions, we have the amazing privilege to be living through this at a time when we can stay connected while being separated like never before. 

~Recognizing that things will change again. Hold onto what is important while recognizing the limits to what I can control. Acknowledging and working to let go of unreasonable expectations, for life in general, the day to day and everything in between. Being aware that change will come again keeps me from feeling overwhelmed or threatened when new news or change comes my way.

That’s why I’m calling it the new normal for now. It keeps me grounded, focused on what is important, working through what is upsetting, and living intentionally.

You know what… for as much as has changed, I realized just how much has stayed the same. Because, when I think about it, the new normal for now looks suspiciously a lot like what it did before, even though the particulars may be vastly different. And somehow that is comforting.

This past fall, when facing a time of unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, I was asked, “What do you hope to get from this experience? What do you want when it is all over?”

My answer? “I want to have lived in a way that glorified God and grow stronger as a family.”

You know what? My answer is no different now. Circumstances may change, but some things never do. God is still God. God is still good. God loves me. And His plans for me are good. I may not be able to fully comprehend it but I hold onto what is true. I can choose to live my new normal for now grounded on those truths. Colossians 3:17 is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute reminder that everything I say and do is an opportunity I am given to glorify God.

Today, in the midst of everything that is changing, while so many things are beyond my control, I can see that my new normal for now is not dependent on the circumstances that are ever changing but secure in the One who never changes.

So, I’ll ask you tonight:
~How are you doing?
~What does your new normal for now look like?
~In what areas do you need to make healthy choices?
~How are your prioritizing your spiritual life?
~How are you choosing to live intentionally through things you never intended to live through?
~How can I pray for you?

God- you know better than I do the realities we are all facing, personally and globally. Tonight I ask you to calm our fears, center our hearts and minds, guide our daily choices as we seek to navigate a new normal for now. For those dealing with illness and tragedy I pray for your comfort and healing. Thank you for the way you provide and in particular tonight, I’m especially thankful for the way technology and social media can allow us to draw together when physical distancing separates. God, may we live each day remembering how loved we are by you and how you call us to live your love! Amen


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