(Picture: Ioa Bacon via Creative Commons)
Normal. It’s a word we use with great regularity. Often about people. And even more often, talking about ourselves, our circumstances or people we know in comparison to others. Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
“Why couldn’t I have a ‘normal’ upbringing?”
“Why can’t you eat like a ‘normal’ person?”
“Why do I have epilepsy? Why can’t I be ‘normal’?”
“Why am I not married like ‘normal’ people my age?”
“Why can’t I have a ‘normal’ life?”
When we use the term ‘normal’ in these contexts we’re usually talking about people whose life is better than ours. People who seem to have life easy, happy, and simple. Whose parents don’t divorce. Who don’t lose a family member at a young age. Who don’t grow up in abusive households. And who don’t suffer from some serious ongoing medical condition. These people generally have the perfect upbringing, which has conditioned them well and left them mature and stable people. They are the ones whose lives go as our lives were ‘meant’ to go.
People who fit into societal norms for a happy, successful life. Normal.
Except it’s all a lie.
Yes, there are people out there who appear to have this kind of upbringing, everything going for them and no real major disasters in their life.
I’m not sure God does normal. I don’t think the word is in scripture at all.
Normal is fictional story society writes for us. A box we’re meant to fit. And it’s a myth (you can tweet that here)
Society or culture decides for us what is “normal”. Which is pretty much what I described. The consumer dream, or even the American dream. And we all delude ourselves into thinking everyone else is ‘normal’ and we’re not.
Truth is, we all have issues. We all have insecurities (as I discussed in this earlier post), and things don’t always go well for any of us. My guess is the people who suffered less when they were young, are just better able to cover up their insecurities, fears and doubts.
But they still exist. And I’m pretty sure a lot of them don’t think they are normal.
I mean, which of us thinks we’re ‘normal’? And what do we mean by it? Do we mean we conform to what the majority do? Because I don’t ever see that value in scripture.
Jesus certainly wasn’t normal. He never conformed to what the majority wanted. He stood up for the values of God no matter what. He didn’t have to fit in, because He knew He already belonged where it mattered.
All of us are created uniquely by God. None of us are the same. Genetically, and in our circumstances. Yes, there are many similarities – enough to group us into different types – but we’re all different.
And it’s often what makes us less “normal” which defines us. Our gifts. The unique circumstances which make us who we are.
My Mum died when I was 23. Not what people would call ‘normal’. And you’d be perfectly reasonable to think I would go back and change it if I could. I used to think that way. But with the benefit of time, I can look back now and see how it shaped me, how it impacted my life.
How God used the worst moment of my life for transformation and growth.
I miss my Mum every day, and I love her dearly. She is part of me in so many ways. But I wouldn’t be who I am if she had stayed with us. And although it wasn’t “normal” it was a defining moment in my life.
None of us are normal. We’re special. We’re unique. We might be similar, but we’re not normal. God didn’t create us to be normal.
Whatever our circumstances have been, there is still hope. Death, pain, suffering never has the last word. But God can use these, and all the things we believe make us ‘not normal’, to shape us into who we were created to be.
It’s time to let go of the normal myth. To realise normal doesn’t exist. And once we realise there’s no such thing as normal, it sets us free to be ourselves. And accept ourselves how we are.
Because none of us are normal. We’re all unique.
And that’s exactly how it should be.
Do you agree with me or disagree with me? Is ‘normal’ a myth?
Have you ever wished you were ‘normal’?
How would it feel to know you don’t have to be ‘normal’?
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