The New Normal

20 Nov

My life is not the same as it was. This is completely obvious from a maturity standpoint. I have grown up to the point where my parents are no longer actively parenting me on a day-to-day basis. They are still more than willing to help and advise me, but I am in the uncomfortable position of having become an adult.

I am in a stage of life that I find strange. Now, it seems that from out of nowhere, I have become a parent for which I feel woefully unprepared. I certainly am hoping to always be a better parent, but then these philosophical questions come up that seem much easier to answer when the children in question are not my own!

For example, a fellow parent and I were discussing a mutual friend that really provides an enjoyable experience of camaraderie, yet their children are such trouble makers that they give our children a hard time or when they have a “good” time with our children, we fear that our children are becoming more like them, and the net effect is a negative one. Philosophically, I can easily say to avoid that person. In life, I struggle to actually do it.

My life is not the same as it was. This is completely obvious from a physical standpoint. In high school, I played sports and never minded running just because someone asked. Others talked about how I had boundless energy. Now, people talk about how I am quite capable of sitting down for hours at a time. There have been numerous times where I did something that my brain felt would be innocuous and my body cried in complaint for a few weeks.

My life is not the same as it was. This is sort of obvious from an educational standpoint. When I was young, I studied (or at least pretended to study) what other people told me I had to study. As I gradually got older, I gradually had more input on what that was. Now, I never study things about which I do not care, and I never study for a “test” and am solely concerned with getting the knowledge I might use in the future.

Why is this even worthy of a discussion? Well, other than seeing that I hardly ever write about my physical digression, I see that time is marching forward. While that causes me to become nostalgic, I understand that it just isn’t that time is moving, but rather that life is changing. For example, my broken foot is making me adjust to walking in an entirely new, slower, more painful way. I fear it may be my new normal.

I watched Ahmad Brooks get fined for a hit that I’ve been thinking should have been a clean play all week, when Jake saw it and commented on how obvious a foul it was. The difference between a foul in football is not important, but the fact is my son has grown up in a different world than I did. He knows the new normal.

I grew up in a school where in high school I spent ten minutes a week on the computer and was considered one of the best computer people in my class. I now teach in a high school where if students don’t spend ten minutes a week online checking their homework and emailing me, they are penalized. This is the new normal. My mom grew up in a world where abortion was illegal. When she looked up pregnant help in yellow pages before my birth, she was shaken into the reality that abortion was now out front and normal. That is the new normal.

My friend and administrative pastor, Mike Graham, pointed out to me that WinAmp is being done away with. This was a way to listen to MP3’s in college, a way to distribute homework in grad school, a way to stream my radio show to 7 stations later, and a way to stream my son’s favorite radio station into his bedroom. As we move into the future, WinAmp will not be the “normal” way to do any of those things. This is the new normal.

Aaron Carpenter talks about how the “anti-fundamentalists” are, in a way, becoming the new fundamentalists. The culture now has this new normal. The world today has many things that are far better. For those things, I am quite glad that my children get to experience a new and better normal. Unfortunately, there are also many things where culture has become appreciably worse, and I feel sorrow that my children have to live with that.

Yet, the one thing I keep coming back to is that none of it is taking God by surprise. God is still sitting on the throne and making it all happen in this world. The world is not what it was. While we could all bemoan one thing that has changed (or complain about something that hasn’t), the fact is that the world will never be the same again. We need to move forward with life, hoping that we adapt, yet never normalize sin in our own lives. I continually feel inadequate to do all the things expected of me in this new normal, but if I can do all this, my life will not be the same as it was!

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