“When are things going to go back to normal?”
It’s the underlying thought that many of us have had on a regular basis over the past year after 2020 introduced us to the concept of wearing masks in public and having to cancel plans. Phrases like “unprecedented times” and “the new normal” took over advertising so quickly, it became a joke.
And here we are, a month into a new year, still wading through the pain that last year brought, looking for a sign of relief on the horizon, and repeating in our head and hearts: “I’m ready to go back to the old normal.”
As much as I’m hoping for that relief myself, I’m here with a little bit of bad news: there’s no going back to the way things were.
Before you accuse me of being a pessimist, let me explain why I say that.
Last year, we walked through a lot of difficult things. Even if you weren’t hit directly by poor health or job loss, it was traumatic.
Here’s the thing about going through trauma: it changes you forever.
For some people, it makes them bitter, resentful, and angry at God and the world.
But for others, a certain kind of wisdom that can ONLY be gained by living through something unthinkable comes.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. -James 1:2-4
To be completely honest, I hate that first line. Consider trouble an opportunity for joy? No thank you! I’d rather not be tested.
But if I have to be, I’m trying my hardest to see how being tested changes me for the better.
So how has the past year changed you for the better?
Has your family gotten closer?
Have you learned how to let go of control? (One I’m constantly working on)
Is there a new understanding of loving your neighbor?
Have you been able to find rest, even though it’s not what you were expecting last year?
Do you have new empathy for healthcare workers?
New eyes and a new heart to fight injustice?
A new appreciation of your health?
These might all seem like small, fleeting things, but I firmly believe….in fact, I HAVE to believe that these are the things that will change the world as we change the way we interact with the people in our every day lives.
So how has this past year changed you? And what does your new new normal look like?