It was a normal, ordinary day. I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast and went to school. My classes went smoothly. After school I came home, had a snack, and did some work around the house. Then I had supper, spent a bit of time reading on the couch, and got ready for bed.
What a compelling story, right?! I'm guessing if you were to read a story like this, you would assume as you're reading that at some point there would be a surprising turn, a sentence like, "Then all of sudden, something crazy happened."
I find it interesting that we tend to gravitate toward stories that are not "normal". Normal is considered boring, and no one wants to read a boring story. At the same time, we have this sort of aversion to things not being normal in our own actual lives. When we're in the middle of what feels like a crazy season, we long to return to a sense of normal. It's like something I heard once in a conversation between Annie F. Downs and Shauna Niequist - how we go through life assuming that even though crazy and unexpected things have been happening, soon we'll get to "a long stretch of normal"... but then in reality, life never reaches that state of "normal" we're waiting for.
I wonder if it would behoove us all to revisit how we think about normal. What is normal anyway? Is there even such a thing? I think about how Snoopy would always start whatever story he was writing on his typewriter: "It was a dark and stormy night..." Well, what would it be like if dark and stormy was just considered a normal part of regular living?
I recently heard about a book called "The Night is Normal" by Alicia Britt Chole. I haven't read it but I heard her talk about it on a podcast (which, as a side note, I would highly recommend if you're looking for a deeply moving conversation!) and I was struck by the way she explained the title. She talked about how we hear of things like "the dark night of the soul" and we hope against hope that we don't have to experience them. We assume the night is something bad, something that causes us to feel far from God, maybe even something that is an indicator that we've lost our way. But then she points out that night was something God put into place at the very beginning, before sin entered the world. We read in Genesis that God created both night and day. And much later in the Bible, we see how Jesus Himself experienced night - including dark, heavy struggles like being tempted for 40 days in the desert. Like being up all night, crying and having his sweat be like drops of blood. These are so far from what we think of as normal.
And yet, we continue to wonder when things will get "back to normal".
The other thing I find fascinating about this whole idea of normal is how things often feel more normal when we're not right in the middle of them. Somehow we can look back at an earlier period of time in our lives and think to ourselves, that seems pretty normal now. It seems a lot less crazy than how I remember it feeling when I was first experiencing it. Of course sometimes the reverse can also be true - we may go through something only to discover later, wow that was so much crazier than I realized at the time.
The bottom line is, I'm just not sure that life is ever "normal" or "not normal". At least not to the extent we like to think it will be. Maybe rather than praying for things to get back to normal, we can begin to pray for a deeper awareness of God's presence no matter what state our lives - or our families or our schools or our churches - are in.
Imagine if our definition of normal was no longer "things feel good and pleasant and ordinary" but rather "no matter how things are, God is still with me and He still loves me." Imagine if our students deeply understood this to be true. Imagine if this truth became the constant in their lives, through all the ups and downs. Maybe that's the kind of normal we all need more of in our lives.
Pray with me...
... Father, when we face things that don't feel normal, help us to keep trusting You
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12
... Holy Spirit, enable our students to experience Your love and presence as a normal part of their lives
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
... Jesus, no matter what challenges ACSD may face, lead us on the path You have for us
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory