Scars on the chest. A permanent reminder of near death, an unexpected surgery and a new regimen of medications. A future calendar marked with frequent doctor visits.
A house that echoes with silence and too much space. Emptied of the voices that used to fill it. Emptied of the vows and promises of forever that were made. Still filled with memories that are too painful to revisit.
Waking up after a choice you now regret. Wishing you could go back to sleep and it would have been a bad dream. But it's a reality now. A reality you can't fix or make better.
Sometimes wanted. Like when your children grow up and leave home. A parent wants their child to mature and grow into adulthood and find their place in the world. That is healthy. Healthy with a side of bitter too. Part of your heartaches and wants to slow the hand of time, to hear their feet hit the floor and see them every morning with their hair disheveled. But time marches on and what do you do now with all your time?
Sometimes, new normals are so unwanted.
I found myself in a new and unwanted reality some years ago. It was a season of tragedy and enormous grief. The kind where you have to will your heart to live. During this season, a friend said to me "you will adjust to a new normal." I clung desperately to that truth. You mean to tell me, this too will someday become normal? How could that be?
I didn't want to adjust to it. I didn't want my new reality. It was not the life I had envisioned for myself. It was not the story I wanted to tell and retell and eventually learn how to live out of. Not. at. all.
"Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24
I could have held onto the life I once knew. I could have spent my life looking in the rearview mirror. Looking back and pining for the beautiful normalcy of the past. When life was relatively calm and routine, and this complete upheaval wasn't part of the storyline. I could have done that.
And it still would have died in the grasp of my white-knuckled fists. That part of my life was over and gone. Learning to embrace my new normal is the only place where life would actually be found.
So I let it fall. Apart and to the ground. And the Fall of my life came just as the season comes, and life seemed to be ebbing away, taking every color and beautiful thing with it. The forecast now a blanket of gray. Winter settled in and made a home, and I let it have its way. The life I knew before seemed to be buried and frozen beneath the ground, with no visible promise of new life to come.
My new normal. A heavy normal.
"But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
My willingness to let it die is what made room for the new life to come eventually. I can still hear his voice today in my mind. "Sarah, you will adjust to a new normal." And I wish someone had told me "and it will be a beautiful one."
Because that's really what we fear most when life is disrupted. When we're face to face with a situation, we don't know how to navigate. What we fear most is our inability to handle it. And we also fear that the new normal will always be a place of pain and void of a hope-filled future.
Not so. The seeds produced can be beautiful, if we allow the brokenness to enter and be fully felt and fully broken.
Maybe you're in a season of adjusting to a new normal. Hear my voice as someone who has walked through it. Brokenness leads to wholeness. A crushed and buried seed produces abundance. New normals can be beautiful normals if we are willing to make space for them.