ACCEPTING THE “NEW NORMAL”

There are defining moments that forever change the course of our lives. A choice we – or others – make, a phone call received or a diagnosis in a doctor’s office can alter our lives in ways we could never have imagined. Some defining moments are wonderful: You marry the love of your life; you land your first big job or buy your first house; you become a parent – or grandparent. Life is never the same. Other defining moments hit our lives like a train, sometimes without warning. We are left to figure out how to accept and live with the difficult “new normal” imposed on us. I was hit by what felt like a runaway train when I sat with my husband in a doctor’s office and heard his diagnosis: Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Jon died less than two years later; my life was dragged down the tracks for years to come. Much of my life was shaped by that experience. I am who I am today because of it. The same is true for my daughters. We learned what it means to depend on God and trust Him in our most painful times. I am currently adjusting to a “new normal.” Recently, I sat in a doctor’s office with someone dear to me, as they received the diagnosis of cancer. Once again, it’s time to practice the things that helped me through difficult times in the past. Here are some things that can help us cope when a “new normal” changes the course of our lives: • Draw closer to God through His Word – Spend time in God’s Word daily. Lay yourself down in the Psalms; find comfort and strength there. • Search out God’s promises – Memorize ones that speak to your need. Write them on sticky notes, and place them where you’ll see them throughout the day. • Pray – Each morning, begin the day pouring your heart out to God. End each day by placing your cares in God’s hands. Thank Him for seeing you through another day. • Keep a journal of meaningful Scripture and of your prayers (and answers to prayers!) – This will help to open your eyes to God at work in you and around you. Here’s one of my “life-ring” Scriptures: “…and as your days, so shall your strength be…The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:25,27 ESV). • Use the Serenity Prayer – “God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Read and meditate on the full Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (Clink for link). • Ask for the help you need – Others will want to help you, but you need to let them know your needs. This is not the time to carry the load by yourself. We were made to do this life together! • Accept the help offered by friends and family – You cheat others out of a blessing if you don’t allow them to help. (Think of how you feel when you’ve met a need for someone you love.) • Practice self-care – Eat healthy foods. Get adequate rest. Exercise to reduce stress. Say “No” when you need to. • Include humor in each day – Although you may feel like there’s nothing to laugh about in your situation, laughter is still the most cost-effective medicine available. Laughter has many proven physical and mental health benefits (Click for link). Seek out ways to bump up your daily intake of humor. • Take one day at a time – While a certain amount of consideration of the future is necessary, obsessing about what might happen only increases your anxiety level. Jesus gave this advice: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV). Although we may feel out of control when hard times come, doing what we can empowers us as we work towards acceptance of our “new normal.” Whatever your current situation, know that your times are in God’s hand; with His help and the support of prayer, family and friends, you will make it through. TODAY’S CHALLENGE: If you are working towards accepting a difficult “new normal” in your life, choose just one of the suggestions mentioned above, and start to practice it today. For those of you currently in one of life’s sweet spots, you can use these suggestions to help prepare for when (not if!) your next “new normal”...