Are you grieving for the life you planned? The one you dreamt of?
Did you have goals for attaining a college degree, only to fall short?
Did you fantasize of marrying prince charming, only to find out your husband of two years has a pornography addiction?
Did you expect to excel in your career, only to have the demands of mommy-hood derail your aspirations?
Did you imagine your child would grow up to be a responsible member of society, only to have them embarrass you with their immature and reckless behavior?
The New Norm
The older we get and the more life experiences we have, the more room there is for not only realizing success, but also suffering disappointment.
And beyond just enduring a disappointing situation, there’s the ‘New Norm’; the moment when you step back and take a snapshot of your life and realize how very far it is from what you anticipated.
This moment can be filled with dread, doom, gloom, distress, discontentment, frustration, depression, regret, and fear.
“Is this all I have to look forward to?” you wonder.
“Is this as good as it’s going to get?” you fear.
“Is it always going to be this hard?” you worry.
And if this isn’t hard enough, what about the plans gone askew which you have absolutely NO control over? A terminal medical diagnosis. A wayward child who is over the age of eighteen. A husband who has left because he just doesn’t love you anymore, and of course, he loves his new secretary who is twenty years his junior.
Fallout from the ‘New Norm’ can be a difficult burden to shoulder and reality to face.
My New Norm
This wasn’t the plan. I didn’t intend to bail on my college degree just a year before completion, I didn’t dream of two failed marriages, and I sure as heck never expected to be completely estranged from my youngest son. Fresh from a raw and painful situation, the ‘New Norm’ in my life looks NOTHING like what I had anticipated.
Just shy of my fiftieth birthday, there are moments I feel like an utter failure. The temptation to succumb to a permanent pity party is ever-present. There are many days when I reflect on what a pathetic excuse for a mother and a Christian I am, and wonder who in the heck I am to give advice. I’ve got no business writing, speaking, and coaching. None at all.
And then I catch myself. Or the good Lord opens His sweet, caring arms and catches me. Or maybe it’s a bit of both self-preservation and the loving embrace from my Lord and Savior.
I reexamine my life and dissect the ‘New Norm.’ I’ve got a choice. I can lament over disappointments and failures or I can choose to learn from my experiences, appreciate the blessings in my life, accept the place where I am, and strive to always do better.
So I take a deep breath, regroup, and step-up.
The Truth About My New Norm
As my Nana so graciously asked me when I shared with her that I was going to quit college, “Sherry dear, does discontinuing your education mean that you’ve lost the knowledge you gained along the way?”
Wow, perspective is everything, isn’t it? And this was from a lady who wholly believed in higher education and would have much preferred that I continued working toward my degree. Oh how I appreciated that lady and her wisdom!
And even though I grimace every time I say it, I’m on my third marriage, although in all honesty, I don’t believe the first two were truly ‘marriages’. Every experience I’ve had along the way has grown me to be the wife I am today. I adore my wonderful husband and am truly blessed to enjoy a fulfilling and beautiful marriage. I’m not sure twenty years ago I was capable of contributing the way I do now, even though in my mind, I saw it very differently.
Then there’s my son… Well, along with the heartache and pain I’ve endured, is the joy I have in our incredible grandson. This kid keeps us laughing and loving extreme. We’re grateful beyond compare for every second we get to spend with him. And talk about the ‘New Norm’? If you would have asked me a year ago if our grandson would be hanging out and enjoying dinner at our home with his Momma, my son’s ex-wife, and not my son, I would have NEVER have believed you. Never.
But welcome to my ‘New Norm’. Clearly, in the midst of each storm, there are rays of sunshine to be found.
Are you willing to look?
Embracing the New Norm
Life is strange. Unpredictable, forever changing, and always interesting, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. And it’s not always fair. Or fun. Plans don’t always work out and dreams don’t always come to fruition. Disappointments can stack up.
I want to encourage you, however, to embrace the ‘New Norm’. Throw the textbook away and don’t worry about coloring in the lines. Life shouldn’t come with a set of hard fast rules and regulations. What’s right for one may not be right for you; give yourself permission to stray from the status quo. The sooner you realize that beauty and creativity is allowed, the sooner you will find joy and peace. It’s admirable to have goals and dreams and standards, but when life throws you a curveball, don’t waste precious time mourning the loss or lack of control, yet instead, as hard as it may be, embrace the challenge.
Of course, Christ must be at the center of all decisions, but within that directive, He allows abundant room for imagination, inspiration, and ingenuity. He created you as a completely unique person and He doesn’t want you to conform to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model.
Should you start out with ideas and aspirations? Of course! Can you work on improving the standard? Sure! Revamping goals? Absolutely! But do yourself a favor and declutter uncompromising preconceived notions and negative tendencies.
Your norm may look different than what you expected. I know mine sure does. But it’s yours; all yours. It’s what you’ve got to work with so don’t work against it. Don’t turn your back on the pieces of your puzzle, even if the end result is an unfamiliar picture or uncomfortable landscape. Treasure your life for all it’s worth, ‘New Norm’ and all, and make it the best life you can.