Normal, But Not Quite

Confession time! The night before the “Safer at Home’ order went into place my family and I went out for one last drive and ended up making a stop for ice cream. As we drove away with our to-go dishes, we decided to settle at the lakefront and enjoy a bit of a view while we ate.

Sitting in that parking space staring at a pretty calm evening view, something struck me. Everything is pretty normal, but not quite…right?

With every passing Hollywood depiction of a pandemic or world altering event, I think I kind of came to expect this moment to look like those. We shouldn’t go outside! Lock the doors, bury the key, and do overnight watch shifts! Instead what we have is a warming spring season begging us to go outside, people who are playing 4 square in their driveways, and lawn mowers firing up. But every time it starts to feel like it should, you get reminded that none of us should be within 6 feet of each other.

So it’s normal, but not quite.

It’s not normal to have to reorganize your family’s life to go outside as little as possible until late April. It’s not normal for toilet paper to become a source of riches. It’s not normal for us to still be close to the people around us and yet so far from them too.

So what does a normal, but not quite community look like for a family? How do we live this new moment without giving up what we liked about the world that was before and will still be in the future?

1: Prioritize Moments Over The Season

This is not the time to only live with an 5,000 foot view of your life or your kids life. You know why? Because none of us can accurately predict what’s coming or where we’re going to be in 2 weeks. By trying to predict the future we’re running the risk of missing our children’s present.

In one of his most famous teachings, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

The Sermon on the Mount was a movement defining teaching for Jesus. He called out the errors of the past religious system and set the record straight. He told people exactly how they had been missing it and then gave them hope that something better was here.

So let me ask you, are you letting the stresses of this season stop you from seeing the moments that surround you?

The stresses are very real and they’re completely understandable. We’re worrying about jobs, income, safety, family, and friends. But Jesus promises, quite accurately, that tomorrow has more than enough trouble for itself. We don’t gain anything by crashing the worries of tomorrow into the limited hours of today.

As often as you can, bring your view back to the ground level right now. Enjoy the moments of crazy unique fun that are all over when you begin to look for them.

You’ve never had more time together as a family than you will during this time! You can choose to use that time in two different ways; you can send everyone to their corners chasing after the old normal amount of time together or you can embrace the increase in time and create moments to remember.

2: Distance is Nothing…Virtually

The easy route is to shut down, especially with physical community being a rarity right now. It would be easy enough to unplug from everyone in the world who doesn’t sleep in your house and eat at your dinner table. But don’t!

This is a moment where we need community and connection more than even the most introverted of us would admit. Fortunately, it’s also a moment where community and connection is at our fingertips.

Have your kids call their cousins, grandparents, or even their friends from school. Facetime, Skype, Zoom are all tools that allow your kids to get that “normal, but not quite” connection with the people that are still in their lives. And remember, those same people are locked up in their homes too. We’re all working through the same things together, but separately!

The author of Hebrews wrote,  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Don’t give up meeting! Don’t give up community! Don’t take the easier route of waiting until normal returns!

Instead use this moment to spur on the people in your life to embrace love and good deeds. Encourage your kids and their friends to be there for one another. Perhaps most importantly, parents don’t let the “normal, but not quite” moment surrounding us right now cut you off from some of the best resources God has given you – other people.

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