Something I’ve found myself contemplating lately is this one word, normal. What does it mean to be normal? When it comes to a human being there is no set standard for normal. I’m not talking about the physical makeup of a human. I’m talking about that somewhat intangible understanding of what makes a person “weird” and another person “normal”. What’s weird to you may be normal to me and vice versa.
Part of what sparked this contemplation was becoming a dad. When we had our first child my mind was full of dreams and hopes. I thought of what it would be like when she becomes an adult. I thought about her friends, the activities she would do, the person she would become. I prayed that God would take care of her and allow those dreams to come to pass because obviously, I thought my dreams would give her the perfect life.
One day as I prayed I found myself thinking, do I really want my daughter to be normal? Am I shortchanging her by simply wanting normal? Let’s be honest, normal has it’s appeal. Normal would mean that she is accepted and treated well by her peers. Normal would mean life wouldn’t be that complicated for her.
I started to think about my life and the word normal was not a word I had ever thought best to describe me. I wasn’t the popular kid. I didn’t do what all the other kids did. I didn’t feel normal. Part of that was because I was always in church. Church was one of the constants in my life. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for me to be at a church 4 or 5 times a week while growing up and that wasn’t normal compared to other kids I knew. Not being normal was actually normal for me.
As I grew up, I actually became frustrated with my normal. I listened to others who would share their stories of salvation and how they had hit rock bottom. I felt like my story didn’t have a rock bottom because my normal was church. I never experienced some of the awful things these people had and they seemed to have a special appreciation of their relationship with Christ that I didn’t. As weird as it sounds, I found myself jealous of someone’s testimony.
I felt inferior, as if I had an inferior faith and relationship with Christ. One day, however, I realized that I didn’t have to experience something to be saved from it. The truth is I don’t know all that I was saved from. I don’t know how bad my life could have gotten. I do know for some reason my story, although simple, ordinary and normal, is a story of salvation, just like the rest. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve the love of God, yet He chose to give it to me. That in and of itself is something to be grateful for.
So I’ve stopped praying that my kids would be normal and started praying big prayers. Prayers that they would be different. Prayers that they would stand out. Prayers that they would be ok not being normal. Do I want them to fit in and be treated well? Absolutely! But I don’t want that to be what drives them. I want them to be ok not being normal!
Romans 12:2 says it this way “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” A lot of what I constituted as normal is seen in the physical, but truly begins in the mind. My prayer is that my kids will be transformed by the love of Jesus and that it will penetrate every area of their lives. And let me be honest, it’s not just a prayer for my kids, it’s a prayer for myself every single day.