• Darcie @ Leighton Lane

The New Normal

Updated: Apr 16

The sliding glass doors opened as I carried my lethargic one-year-old into the hospital. We were immediately stopped by a lady in gloves and a mask – thermometer in hand. She had a short questionnaire with the standard list of questions.

“Have you been out of the country?”

I laughed and made a joke. “We haven’t been on vacation since we had kids – so five years.”

My temperature read normal, but my son’s was 103 – the very reason we were there.

“Welcome to the new normal,” she said as she handed me the questionnaires and pointed the direction to go.

Fortunately, he had an ear infection and they were able to treat it with an antibiotic. During the follow-up with the pediatrician, we were once again greeted with a questions and temperature reading. Sick children were taken right back and confined to one half of the building.

“Welcome to the new normal,” the doctor said as she entered our room in full cover. I think she was smiling behind the mask. I was thankful for the extra precautions to keep our children safe and intrigued at the same time.

What is this “new normal” and why are they welcoming me to it? By definition, it’s a term used to describe when something which was abnormal now becomes commonplace. I agree, this whole thing feels a little abnormal.

If you are like me, routine and consistency are more welcomed than a sudden change. Especially when the new normal is ushered in by a hardship or tragedy. Now if I won the lottery, I’d wave that new normal right on in with my toes in the sand and a margarita in my hand.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the phrase, “new normal” or “new reality” used to describe our current state. The new normal where people walk around in masks, six feet apart. The new reality of empty restaurants, malls and parks as we shelter in place. People are lined up at unemployment offices and subsequently food banks. There’s the red down arrows indicating our new retirement age of 110.

This is our new normal. For now.

But I don’t have to tell you. Unless, you live under a rock – you’ve seen the constant stream on the news and the abundant posts on social media. You’ve noticed the limits at the grocery stores, empty shelves and long lines in the morning. All of this, because of an “invisible enemy” – at least that’s what the politicians call it. I don’t even want to say the name of the virus, because I am so tired of hearing it.

The funny thing is they treat ‘normal’ as if it’s an absolute when it’s more of a relative term. There is no standard by which to measure someone’s normal.

For some their normal is worrying about how to put the next meal on the table, while others are choosing which island to spend vacation. The norm looks a lot different here in the U.S. compared to say Haiti.

Normal looks like a tiny apartment in a bustling city, while normal for the next guy is starting the tractor at dawn. Normal can be a white picket fence with kids running through the sprinkler while normal for the next house is sipping tea in a relaxing quiet.

For parents of critically ill children our new-to-us normal is their everyday normal. They fight the “invisible enemies.” Every. Single. Day.

Significant changes in our lives create a new normal for us on a regular basis. The new standard by which we do life is not always a bad thing. One day you go from living alone to living with your partner and once you have kids – you really live in a new normal. A big promotion at work can create your new ordinary of living. Maybe you leave the corporate world to find a simple new way of life.

Trials certainly bring in a new normal. There might be an empty chair at the kitchen table. Beeping machines, needles and prescription bottles might be a new routine. The months of sleepless nights anxiously waiting for someone to come home can become typical. The loss of a job, a home, a pet and on and on…

But you know this. You know that normal is different for everyone. You know the current circumstances don’t feel normal.

Like everyone else, you feel the uncertainty hanging in the air. Whether we reopen next week or this drags on for some time – there is a strong certainty we will all come out of this with a new normal – at least a new perspective.

So, I asked myself. What do I want my new normal to look like when the gloves come off? What do I want to fight for?

I already knew the answer, because it’s something I’ve thought about Every. Single. Day. For Years.

I’m going to share my story. And with it share the love of Christ, offer hope, and advocate for mental wellness.

It’s a story where I fought really hard to get back to normal. Truth is, I had to settle for a new normal. And man was it worth the fight!

So I decided to write. Actually I’ve been writing for a solid two years. I just didn’t have the nerve to actually share, because my story is fairly abnormal. But since the new normal looks and feels pretty abnormal, it makes my story seem somewhat more normal. If that is possible. And there is nothing normal about the last couple of sentences but hey what good is normal in times like this?

Uncertainty and doubt has reared its ugly head more times than I can count. I’ve asked myself a million times, why would you ever tell the story of something many would love to forget?

It took me a while, but I realized it’s simple.

It’s a love story. A crazy powerful one of a relentless pursuit, a saving grace, and an impenetrable love from an amazing God.

And I want you to find your own love story.

P.S. If you made it to the end of this and you are more tired of hearing the word “normal” than the virus word -- you can thank me later.

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