It was almost bedtime and we needed diapers.
I hadn’t had a chance to get out of the house that day, as I was still trying to figure out how to care for Mason in his cast.
But there were still dirty dinner dishes on the counter. I’m not a neat freak, but I do prefer a clean kitchen before beginning the bedtime routine.
This particular night, we were running out of time. So Bradley told me to take the girls with me to the drugstore for diapers, he would sit with Cooper and Mason–who still hadn’t moved from his bed in two days–and we could do the dishes after the kids were in bed.
I gave him a look that said, “NO WAY am I leaving the house with the kitchen like this!”
“This is our new normal,” was his pretty firm reply.
“Well, I don’t like the new normal.”
Typically ‘the new normal’ is used in reference to a situation that was unplanned, and a lot of times one that comes with unexpected challenges and difficulties.
We’ve experienced quite a few ‘new normals’ during our married life. Each one has varied in difficulty and length, but each has always carried with it a sense of hardness.
This time, my new normal is life with a toddler who has become immobile.
This is not the end of the world.
It can feel that way, though, right? When our circumstances aren’t what we had hoped or don’t turn out the way we had anticipated, it can just.be.the.worst.
In the midst of a challenging season of life, I find myself going back and forth between two thoughts
Thought 1: This is SO hard, I can’t do it! Why can’t my life be easy like so-and-so’s.
Thought 2: There are countless people whose situations are way more difficult than mine, so stop struggling, Lauren, and JUST DEAL.
There are two truths that can be pulled from this: At any given time in my life, someone will have it easier, and someone will have it harder.
So, how do I live in the midst of this tension? How do I identify that something is hard and walk through it without comparing my struggles with those around me?
I look to Jesus as the standard.
Jesus experienced the most difficult form of suffering that will ever be known to man. He felt loss on every level. And He gives us a beautiful example to follow.
Jesus asked God to remove the suffering. This perhaps gives me some of the greatest comfort. The plan all along was for Jesus to redeem mankind. Jesus knew that. And yet, He essentially asked God to find another way. His prayer in the garden said, “I don’t want to experience this kind of pain. I know this is going to be hard. Remove it from me.”
If the Son of God can express His dislike about a painful experience to the Father, then so can I.
He knows our hearts. He knows our hurts. He understands our pain. So, I can pour out my heart knowing that He cares for me and longs for that kind of intimacy with me.
The thing about Jesus’ request, however, is that He concludes it with a submissive spirit.
“Not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus submitted to God’s will. God did not remove the suffering. And so Jesus went to the cross, took our sin upon Himself, and died in our place (1 Peter 2:24).
This is a harder example to follow. I don’t always feel accepting and submissive when I’m going through a season of difficulty. I’d much rather have the situation removed and walk forward with ease.
I’ve found that my inability to submit to the trials that God places in my life is ultimately a lack of faith in the character of God.
I doubt His goodness when something unpleasant happens.
I doubt His sovereignty when life seems chaotic and out of control.
I doubt His love when I compare my situation with the seeming ease of someone else’s.
I doubt His justice and holiness when I’ve been wronged or mistreated.
And so when I find myself struggling to submit, I preach to my heart the truths of Scripture.
I open my Bible even if I don’t feel like it and I immerse myself in the Truth. I beg God to give me belief. I put on the armor of God because it’s in these times of struggle–when I’m at my weakest– that Satan will do all he can to keep me from believing.
As I pour truth into my faltering heart, the Spirit renews me and that submissive spirit eventually comes. Maybe not immediately. Depending on the enormity of the loss or struggle, sometimes the acceptance takes months, or even years. But I know I can’t stop.
Faith doesn’t quit and hope will not disappoint, so we have to take our eyes off of the temporal and fix our gaze elsewhere.
Jesus had an eternal perspective. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). He knew that there would be pain, but He wasn’t fixed on that. His gaze was set on eternity.
He would be re-united with the Father.
The plan of Redemption would be fulfilled..
He would be raised and seated at God’s right hand.
So, in the midst of pain, struggle or loss–no matter how great or small– I fix my eyes on what is unseen (1 Corinthians 4:17-18).
I believe that God is using the suffering to produce something greater in me (Romans 5:3-5).
I believe that the fires of unexpected trial will bring refinement and purification (1 Peter 1:6-7).
I believe that God will finish the work that He started in me (Philippians 1:6).
I believe that ultimately I will receive the gift of heaven: complete and full union with Jesus. Forever (1 Peter 1:5-9).
This is how to embrace a new normal.