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New Normal

May 9, 2020
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There is this part of me that wants to just say, “Forget figuring out a New Normal. There is no such thing. Stop whining about it and just move on.” Life in these last couple of months hasn’t been Normal, and there’s no indication that it will ever come back to what we would have called Normal in February. It’s not too hard to be pessimistic about it.

But there’s another part of me that knows that eventually we will settle back into some kind of Normal over time.

Debbie and I were living in Las Vegas in 2008, serving a truly incredible church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church, there. When the economy did it’s Humpty Dumpty header off the wall and exploded into a gillion pieces that year, Las Vegas was devastated. At one point, we had a nearly 25% unemployment rate in our church. It was awful. We were confronted with the undeniable concept of a New Normal.

But Las Vegas made a pretty incredible comeback. Before the Covid-19 outbreak and shut-down, Las Vegas had more than rebounded. It had acquired an NHL team and an NFL team, and was blowing past its former economic high times. People who make money off economic growth were very much in love with Vegas’s New Normal. It was even more profitable than it had been pre-2008.

Las Vegas held its breath, waiting for the governor to disclose a plan to open the state back up. And as it held its breath, it laid off hundreds of thousands of employees of every kind. This New Normal is very ugly. Probably more ugly than 2008.

This isn’t isolated to Las Vegas. Nearly every part of our great country has been put in a strangle hold by the events we’re weathering. Every segment of our economy and national life has been very nearly wrecked by it.

The smartest epidemiologists and the smartest economists are making their projections about what the road ahead will look like. And from these projections we’ll construct some kind of model for the New Normal. Frankly, I have little confidence that it will be very accurate. Not many of the projections related to Coronavirus have been to this point. In some ways, we’re a little like Lewis and Clark. When they left St Louis, they knew some important things about their trek West, and had a limited map to begin working from, but it wasn’t long before there was no map to chart their way forward. They were making the map as they went. Turns out the Colombia River did flow to the Pacific Ocean, and that’s a good thing. But it’s headwaters were on the other side of the most daunting mountain range on our continent. And that wasn’t so good.

We’re drawing a map of the land as we go, too, in a metaphorical sense. We’re using pencil, not ink because there will be lots of corrections. Frankly, I’m glad I haven’t been called on to do any of the drawing on this.

Or have I? The map of New Normal for the country is somebody else’s work. But the map of New Normal for me is my work. Nobody else is responsible for drawing my New Normal map.

The point of what I’m posting today is to challenge you to join me in mapping out a New Normal for our own lives and families. I’ve got a few suggestions:

  1. Think through what you want to keep of your personal and family patterns you’ve been in for these last couple of months. Some of these things won’t be much different than life before Covid-19. But there are some things that have been significantly different in your family life for the last couple of months. What of them do you want to keep?
    I’d say things like hand-washing and household hygiene would be good to keep on the list.
    Maybe things like routine phone and/or video calls with friends and family would be good to keep.
    Eating meals together would be good to keep.
    Eating out less might be good to keep. It would probably be good for your budget.
    Deciding what’s important to get done and what isn’t a 3-alarm fire would be a good one to keep. The concept of not reacting to everything like it was an emergency is a good idea, Covid-19 notwithstanding.
    Getting adequate sleep and going at a little slower pace might be a good pair to keep, if you’ve been able to pull them off.
    You’ll need to flesh out your own list.
    Write your stuff down and keep it somewhere you won’t lose it, and somewhere you can read it to remind yourself of these things.
  2. In the same line of thought, what are some things you don’t want to keep in your New Normal.
    Like doing all your kids’ school online. They probably don’t like it. You probably don’t. I guarantee their teachers don’t.
    Or staying at home all the time. That one goes on my list.
    Or eating EVERY meal at home. This one also goes on my list.
    Believe it or not, for me, anyway, not being in my entire family’s presence all day every day goes on my list. And my entire family consists of my wife, our cat and me.
    Going to church only online gets on my list, too.
    You’ve got your own things.
    Write them on the list.
  3. Call a family meeting and see what they think of your list. Let them add to it or take away from it. The point of making the list to help you and your family choose your own New Normal. It won’t do this (help you choose your own New Normal) if it’s “your list.” It’s got to be theirs, too. And the only way to get there is to give them input. So have a family meeting and talk about it.
  4. Then create a document that you can refer back to. I mentioned this earlier. You may want to put it on the refrigerate or in some other prominent place so that it can be referred back to. This is the best way to keep it from being another set of good intentions that never actually get into your life patterns.
  5. Make a commitment to live by your New Normal as much as is possible. This document isn’t the Ten Commandments. So don’t make them so set in stone that you can’t be flexible. The point is to help you live by a chosen set of ideas so that you can make the most of your life together.

If you and your family don’t choose your own New Normal, somebody else will choose it for you. That’s an immutable law of life. So take the initiative and be intentional about it. Harvest as much good as you can from this inconvenient and often very difficult season. An effort like this is recommended in Ephesians 5:15-16. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

So go ahead and make the most of this opportunity.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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