Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Redefining "Normal"

 Then the One sitting on the throne said, “See! I am making all things new. Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 
~ Revelation 21:5, NLV ~ 

Many parents raising children with a fragile medical condition are blessed with family members who surround them, providing them with assistance when they have a child diagnosed.  These families help with meals and child care when there is a hospitalization.  They give the parents personal respite when they need a little break from the more-intense demands of raising such a child.  Some even attend appointments and participate in helping with the in-home medical care.

While I have never enjoyed this type of help from my own family, there is one nugget I received that will live in my heart forever.  My older sister was the first in our generation to reveal that hemophilia existed in our family genetics, after her second and third sons were born with the disorder.  I will likely never know why, but she never felt compelled to assist me in any way when we had a son born with the same diagnosis.  It was difficult, and professionals looked at me with shock, dismay, and curiosity at times when they expected a sister with the same challenge to offer support.  Nevertheless, I cling to the one little bit of truth that she did share with me by phone when I was still in the hospital with my newborn son.

"You will redefine 'normal' in your life," she said.

Holding that baby boy, looking at his raised, angry bruises in places that should never exist on a newborn, it was hard to imagine a time like that would ever come.  How could jabbing a child with an IV needle 3 times a week ever become "normal"?  How could continually running 30 miles to the hospital or therapy appointments ever seem like a typical day?

I experienced similar feelings when our youngest began her journey of myriad diagnoses at 18 months old.  When would it EVER feel "normal" seeing her have a severe allergic reaction?  And how could I possibly get used to the strange behaviors I was seeing in her, so different from her peers that we were ostracized?  This felt anything BUT normal!

Thankfully, the promises of God put a floor under our stumbling feet.  Jesus DOES make all things new!  He grows us to a point of familiarity with medical terms.  He comforts us and drives away our fears.  He gives us new understanding, new confidence, and new capability in making sound medical decisions for our children.  Jesus gives us a fresh vision of the future that isn't as dark as when we first receive the news of a diagnosis.  He changes our perspective, and even gets us laughing about the very things that might make others shudder.

We soon came to realize, as Patsy Clairmont puts it, "Normal is just a setting on your dryer."*   Every life has trials of some sort.  While our challenge may be living with special needs, another person's challenge may be caring for an aging parent, or having a wayward teenager, or constantly relocating for a job.  Your "normal" becomes your baseline -- your way of daily living with this challenge without letting it take over your life.  "Normal" becomes your boredom and your excitement apart from diagnosis.  It is your joy in spite of the storms.  It is a contentment that only God can provide, which completely transcends circumstances.

As this new year begins and holidays fade away, we all look to get back to "normal".  This year, commit yourself to flexibility with your expectations in regards to what is "normal".  Redefining normal means letting go of our expectations.  That can be painful and sorrowful.  But you will not find your baseline until you do let go.  You may have to do it more than once, but you will find yourself with far more peace when you are able to get to this point in your life.

PRAY:  Jesus, normal becomes redefined when I let go of what I expected life to be.  Please make all things new for us, especially when days are difficult.  Thank You that Your words are faithful and true!  Be glorified in our circumstances, and shine through us in ways that make others stand up and take notice.

 ~ Barb Dittrich

*NORMAL IS JUST A SETTING ON YOUR DRYER by Patsy Clairmont, August 10, 1998, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Carol Stream, IL 60188