The "Loss" of Normal

Have you ever said to yourself or someone close to you, "I just want to be normal"! Many people live a "normal" life and they don't even know it. In a world and culture that is constantly screaming at us to be extraordinary--there are times that normal sounds just about as close to extraordinary as we will ever see. But defining normal is harder than you would imagine.

When I think normal here is what I think: Graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, find some handsome guy, fall in love, live off of love and roman noodles when you are young and married, build careers together, love one another through challenges, have (crazy) in-laws, have a few babies, lose your brain for a few years, begin the school circus again--but this time as a parent, dive into your church community--you get the point NORMAL--grow old have a typical life and hope that you make an impact with your time here on this earth. 

But not everyone has the option for "normal"--even close to normal. There are women in slavery around the world, women who are in abusive relationships (that are far from normal--even if to the outside world it looks normal), women who have suffered great loss that took away their "normal", women who have chosen to sacrifice normal to defend your freedoms around the world, and women, like me, who have been riddled with some illness that stole "normal" from them.

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. - Maya Angelou

I spoke in my post to my family about the spoon theory--it is a theory that closely describes what a day in the life of a chronically ill patient looks like. The interesting part for me is that 85-90% of people that I meet would never ever know that I am not "normal". Most might even tell you that I am high capacity. My illness is mostly hidden from the outside world. But it affects every single aspect of my life--from my sleep and diet--to my friendships and community involvement. Most people would be shocked by this--but their shock is a result of careful construction that is two fold on my part--

1- I learned to hide the truth a LONG long time ago--because people cannot handle it

2- I was fortunate to learn how to manage my illness in a way that affords me much freedom. Simply put--I count spoons differently now. Therefore, most would assume I live a normal life.

But back to the concept of normal--could it be that none of us were ever really created for "normal"? Could it be that in the course of our lives we all in some way experience the loss of "normal"? For me, it just happened earlier in life and maybe that is really a grace on my life. That I might be able to live most of my life knowing that normal is a mirage that we all chase. 

My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size--abuse, accident, oppositions, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Message

Indeed, this has been my truth and experience. As I willingly allow my version of normal to die--I see the Lord get glory and honor from my limp/s. At 16 when I lost normal--I had no idea what that would mean for my 30-year-old self, but in my life, it has meant lost relationships, lost dreams, lost careers, lost missions. But, it has meant a closer dependence on my relationship with my Savior--His dreams being planted and flourishing in His timing through His provision and new causes that are purely His heart, not my ego-driven missions. 

My life is lived far more on the inside, in the back room, behind the scenes, in the quieter moments, than I ever thought it would as a child. It is filled with slower mornings, deeper relationships, more creative avenues for accomplishing my to-do list and more time spent embracing the small things in life. With each breath I take, I am learning to appreciate this version of life--to embrace the non-typical paths and to see the Lord's grace in the middle of the weakness. He saved me from a life of normal--and gave me something so much sweeter--a life of GRACE. How extraordinary! He saved me from myself and just like with Jacob in the desert, He left a visual reminder for all my days to be intimately aware that He is my source--He provides me every spoon for counting and breath to breathe. He provides yours, too.