Recently my family and I began watching Gilligan’s Island because our daughter was wondering what old shows were like in the ancient days of the 1960’s. She ended up loving it. I began pondering how it must have felt for the characters to realize that their three hour tour now had a different ending from what they had planned. Each of them had to find a new normal in his or her life (though the Howells and Ginger seemed overly prepared for a three hour tour since they never ran out of clothes to wear or tools to use…but that is a whole other story).
Life is a series of new “normals”. Some new normals are exciting…getting married, having children. Some new normals are challenging…new jobs or careers, new homes in new unknown neighborhoods, new school or college (and did I mention getting married and having children?) . Some new normals are difficult, and we wish we could go back to our old normals, such as when there is a divorce, a loved one dies, or a chronic disease starts to get worse and take up more of one’s abilities or feelings of wellness.
I have had many new normals over the years. Many of them wonderful: getting married, many great years as a teacher, and also having my beautiful daughter. Others have been challenging from chronic pain due to accidents (both car and falls), chronic dizziness from inner ear problems, and from losing physical strength slowly over the years. Each time a difficult new normal is entered the first impulse is to flee, to give up, to cry and scream. Slowly, over time, we begin to adapt to our new normals. We learn new ways of doing things, new ways to cope, new ways to feel normal again. I am beginning to transition into a new normal. My arms don’t work as they used to and it is time to start thinking or planning for moving independently without my feet (I.e. wheelchair use for part time). I can no longer lift my arms without difficulty which makes putting things away in cupboards, and even washing my hair well, a challenge. And, if you have ever seen me get out of chairs, I use my arms as much as my legs in order to stand up. Even this is getting more and more difficult. For awhile, I found myself wishing I could do things like my normal old self used to do: walk without a cane, get up quickly from a chair (okay not as quickly as the average Joe), and clean the house without pain. Thankfully, I am stubborn ( though not always good for my husband). I am determined to find new ways to get out of chairs, new ways to do housework, new ways to be independent as well as new ways to ask for help. Above all my faith has always gotten me out of the tough spots and it will continue to do so.
Eventually, my new normal will become just normal.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”~ Phil. 4:12
What is your new normal? A new job? A lost relationship? An overwhelming illness? A lost loved one? Whatever your new normal is don’t give up in despair. Find friends or loved ones you can lean on who will listen to you, encourage you and perhaps, most importantly, just sit with you. And although we may not be able to go back to our old normal…the new normal will eventually have beautiful moments just like the old normal.