Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Chasing after "normal"

Twenty years ago this month, we were heading to 4-H, which was our family's code-word for Hot, Horrible, Humid, Houston (no offense intended to the lovely folks who live in Houston!)  We were relocating for several months as Dave entered a clinical trial for stage 4 melanoma, and the circumstances may have colored our view of the place somewhat.

Many things were etched into my mind and heart over the next year of intense treatment for Dave: coming to grips with the possibility of losing my best and dearest earthly friend, being tired beyond belief, being all things to all people (helpmeet, single mother, maker of all decisions, and communicator and comforter for everyone.) But one of the themes of that year, and indeed the year or two following, was a strong desire to recapture what suddenly had become a tangible quality that had been previously unconsidered: I longed for everything to feel "normal". 

When everything is "normal", you don't even notice it.  it would be hard, if not impossible, to define.  But remove "normal" and its absence is deafening. I remember asking if I could please do the dishes or the laundry, because that brought back a fleeting sense of "normal". My goal in the beginning was to return to "normal". But the truth is that "normal" is a fleeting thing. It is like sand and moonbeam: it shifts every time you think you can grab onto it. It is like this world, full of feeling but not substance.

I spent a few years trying to chase down "normal" after Dave's treatment.  I thought going camping would return us to "normal", but it didn't.  And I mostly ruined a wonderful family trip to Hawaii because I expected to find "normal" there.  But when I couldn't retrieve normal anywhere, I realised it was gone.  At least that old normal was never going to happen again.  You see, you can't take a vacation from cancer.  It changes things forever.  You can't recapture life before a huge paradigm shift from the other side of the fault line. So all we can do with that chasing after the old "normal" is lay it at the foot of the cross, grieve its passing, be thankful for its former peace, and wait on the Lord.

God does, graciously and in His own time, gift us with "normal" again.  But it is a new "normal". The old has passed away, and everything is made new in Him.  So, I have given up chasing after normal, and ruining or missing the current moment in my hunt for what can never be again.  Instead, I am waiting on the Lord, and looking forward to the gift that one day I will rest in a new normal for eternity.  And I bet that one day, Gentle Reader, this side of eternity, I will look back on a day with a smile and a sigh, and think, "Wow-- what a normal day!"


Quotidian Life said...

Thank you for your timely and wise words, Chris. While not faced with the same challenges God has put in your life, I recognize my own grasping at "normal" particularly when our family goes though transition times between our two world.

MagistraCarminum said...

I think this is the state of the Christian as a wanderer here, don't you? The details vary, but the theme is the same. And God is always gracious!