A New Normal
Summer? Where did it go?
The answer seems to emerge through the same pattern each year. As the sizzling days of the season arrive with pool openings Memorial Day weekend, the extended school break stretches before us with not a care in the world. But by the end of June, the “Back to School” ads start rolling in as the Fourth of July barbecues heat up. Before we know it, school buses arrive and kids are carted off – to the glee of many exasperated parents. Others, not tied to the academic calendar, savor each sunshine-lengthened day before the brisk fall nights set in.
Whatever your life stage, this may be a good moment to pause – and for some, to press reset. For many of us it’s time to return to familiar routines, but for others going through life transitions it may be an opportunity to create new ones. That’s me. I need a new routine – a new normal.
You see I’m the kind of person who likes schedules and structure. So when the lazy days of summer arrive at my doorstep with its many distractions, I lose my rhythm – resulting in a lack of productivity and lots of wasted time. While I have accepted and even embraced the reality that lingering on my cozy porch over a devotion and hot cup of coffee each morning is good for my soul, the rest of the day tends to evaporate. As I attempt to focus now, the sun beams in through my window and an occasional hummingbird whizzes by to greet me. My mind is all over the place. Stacks of writing projects overwhelm me. My voicemail, email, and life are at capacity. Everything is full. Tempting thoughts of retreating to my peaceful porch continue to simmer.
But I have learned the hard way that ignoring, avoiding, or even escaping for a few days doesn’t solve anything. I need to reengage and get back on track to discover my new normal. As my devotion today so clearly and simply stated, I need to “Do the next thing” – not overanalyze or overorganize. I need to just start with what is right in front of me and keep working at it day after day – taking small intentional steps forward until a new routine emerges. In his book The Will of God as a Way of Life, author Jerry Sittser describes how ordinary life is the key to finding joy. “For some strange reason God must value routine because much of life consists of little more. Our lives are filled with the mundane, the forgettable, and the boring,” Sittser explains. But it is in the doing of these things – the dishes, errands, grocery shopping, carpools – that we grow. “Routine builds habit, whether good or bad,” Sittser says. “Routine engenders fortitude in the face of difficulty, gratitude to God for the ordinary blessings of life, love for people whom we are serving, joy in doing a job well.”
So here’s to finding a new normal – one plate, pile, and project at a time!