“That’s not how we normally do it.” As a substitute teacher, I am often confronted with that phrase as I begin a task in the classroom. The teens, seem to roll with the change. The younger kids? Not so much. They thrive on routine as a framework of security.
All of us, to some extent, need regular rhythms to inform our days. They remind us of purposes outside ourselves. My kids don’t always want to take the garbage can to the curb every Monday night but they do it because it shapes their purpose in our family and contributes to the helpful rhythms and functions of a community.
However, sometimes, the routine changes. If a holiday falls on a Monday, garbage day moves from Tuesday to Wednesday. It means we adjust by writing it down and changing our routine. We recognize that the extra day benefits the garbage collectors so their work week doesn’t start until Tuesday. And we learn that flexibility is an important learned skill.
Currently, everyone around the world is grappling with flexibility. The perceived “normal” structure, which frames our lives, is changing.
Truthfully, without a pandemic, it can happen at anytime. Nothing is guaranteed. And if we reflect on our lives, we recognize that we have encountered numerous seasons of “normal” that all look different from each other. And without realizing it, we adapted. Even when those “normal” places felt exhausting, inconvenient, and confusing. We did it because Jesus breathes life into us through all times and all places.
This “new normal” may look different for us as individuals, communities, and nations. But rather than clinging to the familiar frameworks as idols, let us instead cling to God’s mercies as we learn to adapt again. We have been there before. And so has God.