“Conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected.” This is the definition of normal. Notice that what it doesn’t claim to be is “right, moral, necessary or unchanging.”
So what does normal mean to most of us today? Well, it can mean following the exciting restyles of fashion, admiring up-to-the-minute music or eagerly employing the use of the newest words and expressions being thrown at us through media and acquaintances. Being a part of all this helps us to fit in with the here and how, to conform to an unsteady world and to find a sort of connection with the likeminded people around us. It’s good to be a part of something.
But if we stop, take a breath and really reflect on what it is that we’re actually craving, as well as the ways we’re attempting to satisfy these instinctual needs, it’s not difficult to see why we’re missing the mark. Normal is ever-changing, always adapting to the desires of the majority. God never meant for us to take our place in the mainstream. Through John 2:15-17 God gifts us with total clarity regarding how much sway the norms and trends of this world should have in our lives and what should really charge us up and fuel us forwards.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
It comes down to priorities. Does the sparkle of the latest societal obsession distract you to the point of losing sight of God’s hopes and intentions for you? Or, do you actively work to help your heart stay put, steadfast and faithful against the glisten of so many temporary satisfactions?
St. Augustine, the African born saint, insightfully wrote “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” In a way, we can all sense disquiet within us. A ‘normal’ reaction to this is to lay distraction over it, diverting our attention towards the things that others are pursuing and seemingly experiencing fulfillment from. There’s an impression of safety in numbers. But our intuition tells us this isn’t where peace lives, driving us towards the next interruption. In a way it’s like running interference with God. He’s very much there, present in our lives but the white noise of fresh crazes, of new releases and the latest ‘must-haves’ can drown out the only message really worth hearing.
Certainly we all have our own notions about what’s normal and indeed what’s acceptable according to the societal standards that surround us today. Different factors unique to only us; who spoke into our lives, where and how we grew up, our own human experiences (both good and bad) all feed into the homegrown views that we collect over a lifetime. We need to check back once in a while to make sure that we haven’t overlooked what is true, simply substituting it for what is ‘normal’. For this reason and countless more we need to be sure not to invest our time only in the wonders of fads and trends, but in getting lost in The Word, in fellowship with those who’ve identified their cravings for the Lord and in serving others.
We need to remind ourselves and others alike that there’s something far more enticing in this life than what just appeals to us today and that it can be found, timeless and unchanging, buried deep within the word of God.