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Finding Normal

Jul 01, 2018 06:34AM ● Published by Bonnie Lyn Smith

The text came in from a concerned friend:

What are you doing?

Me:

I’m standing in Five Below trying to find normal again.

But the truth is I wasn’t sure if normal would be a thing ever again. It had been a week of scare, upset, worry, and concern that ended in an unexpected diagnosis for one of my children. One medication trial had gone very wrong…the kind of wrong where you stay awake all night staring at God’s created work from your gene pool and wonder: How did we get here? What happened?

Then I remember: Oh that’s right. My genetics slammed us around one more time. Oh, goody. All that stuff I didn’t want to know was in there in the first place was coming back to say: “Hey, Bonnie! I’m ba---ack!”

It almost doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is at this point in my story, does it? For any one of us, it could be cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, skin conditions, or any one of assorted mental health disorders. When everything we have fought so hard to understand, be proactive about, and work around comes spitting into our faces, it’s awfully hard to take at times, am I right?

So I stood there in the store of a thousand teen girl room décor items, cheap candy, and toys, and I texted my friend back. The gist of what was going through my mind, although I don’t recall if I typed all of this was:

Standing here after falling apart at the CVS counter just 30 minutes before, and now I just want to pretend all is okay for 5 minutes. Can you help me do that please?

Life stopped. Just stopped. In that one medical appointment earlier that afternoon, I barely processed what was said. I think there was a mixture of hope and shock. Of, oh yeah, that just might be hiding in my family history, tucked away behind all the struggles. What a fun reminder, and no, I don’t want to go back there…to that place of mess and confusion, fear and what ifs. But it’s not a choice I get to make.

So I face it head on and ask God to help me find normal, even if it suddenly and irrevocably looks different than it did yesterday.

And here’s the message I have this week to all those out there thinking other people are the answer to our struggles:

Nobody is but God.

Our circumstances can change in a heartbeat. I want to always be the face of tremendous hope, even on my darkest days, even when I cannot always be the face of help.

But my hope is found in Christ alone.

Not in my genetics.

Not in science.

Not in prescriptions.

Not in prognosis.

Not even in the friend texting me about my new normal.

Psalm 62:5, ESV
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

I can’t rally up hope. I can’t manufacture it or lather it up from some other substance. I can’t conjure it. And it doesn’t arrive in my mailbox one day. Hope is Christ. He is hope, and He portions it out to me. My job, and your job, is to receive it and believe it. Not hope that all will be well this side of heaven, but hope that He is with us even when it is not.

See the psalm above? I’m not good at the silence part, but I’m working on it [wink].

So, here is how I turn my restlessness and wrestle with hope into action. I rejoice! And I pray. And I asked others to do both alongside me. God is with me, and no matter the circumstance, that is what I rejoice in. As the old hymn goes, “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

Romans 12:12, ESV
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

The beautiful part about hope, besides receiving joy and peace in believing, is that the Holy Spirit makes it possible. If it were up to us in the face of discouraging news, we’d still be banging our heads against a wall, but believing in our Redeemer makes the Holy Spirit jump into action in filling us with hope.

Romans 15:13, ESV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I don’t know what the next chapter will bring. I won’t say I won’t be kicking and screaming and drawing on all my faith not to panic, but God calls me to trust Him and not be fearful, so that is what I must do.

If this is you today, I can’t promise tomorrow will be better, but I can guarantee if you put your faith in Christ, He is by your side.

I have been through enough life and loss to know that tomorrow, I may process differently. It may be a strong day, or I may rage against the torments this side of heaven. But whatever the future looks like, no matter how rough the waters, this psalm rings true over and over again in my life:

Psalm 28:7, ESV
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

It is my prayer that you know this hope, this strength, this shield. His name is Jesus, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, He sends you hope to face whatever arrived at your door this week. I’m so grateful I let Him in to help me. I encourage you to do the same with this simple, but life-changing prayer:

Jesus, I need You! Please come into my life and be my Hope-Bringer. I accept You as my Lord and Savior. I ask for Your forgiveness of my sins. Please lead me into the way everlasting. Amen.

 

Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.


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