You know those kinds of stories?
The ones where things happen like Princess Jasmine going undercover as a city girl to rebel against her royal life in Agrabah and Spiderman decides to toss the suit for a life of less action? The ones where the Prince decides to trade places with his newly discovered twin brother the Pauper, and Jack Bauer retires from saving the world at CTU? Yeah, you know those stories and you probably know them well.
Because they’re like your story.
The kind where all the main character wants is to be normal.
We’ve all heard versions of this story a million times! It may be told with different characters and variations and for different age groups but the underlying theme remains the same: Hero/Royal/Famous Person grows tired of the pressures and restrictions of their complicated life role and seeks to abandon it for a perceived “normal life”.
A normal life.
What is it about being normal that feels so good? And what exactly is normal anyway? Is there some formal definition? Or is it some subjective idea we create in our own minds that represents how things are supposed to be? Where everything goes according to plan, and everyone stays the same, and nothing goes wrong and everything crazy and chaotic and different stays far, far away…
Normal feels good because normal is safe. It doesn’t let us down, disappoint or require us to step out of our comfort zones. It just is. And it doesn’t change.
And then there is reality.
That harsh and unpredictable force that constantly has our lives spinning every which way and leaving us with our arms in the air just grasping for something to hold on to. Reality hurts. It’s scary, it’s burdensome and it is ever changing. Reality is the exact opposite of normal.
So what is your reality? What is the normal you find yourself pining for?
Maybe you are in a marriage that is failing and everywhere around you see normal happy couples with no problems. Or maybe you just took another negative pregnancy test and you don’t understand why you can’t get conceive easily like all the normal girls you are friends with. Or maybe you said goodbye to your twenties a while ago and there still is no husband in sight and yet all your friends are getting on with their husbands and babies and normal lives while you’ve been left behind.
Whatever your reality is, the fact is that there are things in your life that are not how they should be and you would do anything to change them to your version of normal. If you can’t change them, you will do everything in your power to not let on that things are not as they should be, because God forbid anyone find out that you are actually not normal! I know this, because I’ve felt this way and still do all the time.
It’s called being afraid. It’s called being discontent and defeated and ashamed.
The fact is that dreaming of a normal life is a dangerous business because there is no such thing. All it is, is an idea we have created in our minds that creates a feeling of dissatisfaction with our reality. Think of the stories. Seeking normalcy results in a life of escape, defeat and hopeless striving after things that either once were or perhaps never will be. What kind of way is that to live?
I remember growing up I had such a major complex about being the weird girl (which I was.) I thought that if I dressed and acted a certain way and listened to certain kinds of music that I would somehow be perceived as normal and be accepted. My hope was that looking like everyone else would make me so appealing that all the weirdness that went along with being me would eventually become endearing. (Great plan right?) All that resulted was a constant nagging feeling of insecurity and the need to prove myself.
Since I have been an adult I have sought after all kinds of version of a normal life! I’ve wanted a normal husband with a normal job and a normal bank account, and a normal family and a normal childbirth and a normal house in a normal town. The list could go on and on. But the fact of the matter is that no situation in my life or in yours is ever how we imagine it will be.
That’s because life, with all of the mysterious and unpredictable patterns it takes, is beautiful.
Sure, it may not seem like that in the moment. Especially when what is occurring in that moment is the very thing that you fear the most. But that moment is all you have. What is in the past has served its purpose and what is to come is not for you to know. All you can do is choose to embrace the moment you are in and all that comes with it as part of the great plan that God is orchestrating in your life. Don’t waste it by pining after a reality that doesn’t exist and don’t compare your reality to what you perceive someone else’s to be. You don’t know what lies underneath the surface. That’s their life to live. All you can do is trust that right here and right now, wherever you are, Jesus has you covered. The rest is none of your business.
I realize that this could sound harsh. And I’m definitely not trying to minimize the painful circumstances that life brings. But in seeking to escape those circumstances we miss out on the miracles that God performs in our daily lives.
This is important because you see; miracles don’t happen in normal lives. Normal lives are perfect and always go according to our plans. Normal lives don’t need God because they already have everything figured out.
But reality is governed by a force much greater than our ideas of how things should be. Reality is that the God of the universe has made our life an adventure where every circumstance, be it joyful or painful, gives us the opportunity to know His beauty and His goodness in a deeper way.
There is a scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers that has become very meaningful to me and has stayed with me throughout the years whenever life gets crazy. I think Sam hits the nail on the head:
FRODO: I can’t do this Sam…
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why, but I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something.
FRODO: What are we holding onto, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
So here’s to believing that there is more to live for than a normal life. Here’s to having faith and holding onto Jesus, the only thing that is good in this crazy world, and here’s to living great stories – the ones that really matter.
Remember, life is beautiful.