It is Not a New Normal, It’s a New Reality!

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

My Friend, Lou Strugala, and I were discussing the current state of life under the rules of stay-at-home. I asked Lou is this the new normal? Lou, quickly and with certainty stated; No, it’s not a new normal, rather it is a new reality. Explaining that the current situation of forced isolation isn’t normal for any person, but it is our current reality.

I thought about what Lou had to say and he is right. There is a danger for those suffering from isolation to call it normal. Humankind are social creatures and need human interaction. Not by Zoom or phone calls, but actually in-person contact. Our bodies need food and water, and our minds need human contact.

To call what we are going through as normal it is really a misinterpretation of the word normal. While it is a new reality, it isn’t a new normal.

Over the past week, I have had discussions with people who are working from home, and when I ask how they are doing, I am confronted with words like lonely, isolated, and depressed. You can hear it in their voices and through Zoom see the weight of this new reality.

Many spend their days on the phone or tied to their desks; doing their work. Some do it from seven to seven. There is no transition in their lives, they get up, have breakfast, and hit the phones or spreadsheets. Some stay on the phone all day. Many have lunch at their home workplace without ever moving. Then transitioning to dinner with little changes.

One person even mentioned they missed the commute. Others have said they miss office banter. Those who work from home live an unvaried existence. None of this is normal.

They miss seeing smiles or nodding heads of agreement. They can’t see the body language of support. All that is normal with non-verbal communication is missing. Leaving people isolated, depressed, and overly tired.

Well, I hope that things go back to the way they were, it is unlikely. There will be residue, even when we get to the final phases of stay-at-home. So what can we do?

One friend doesn’t start work until [8:30] and is strict about this starting time. He takes a walk and avoids work until then. He makes sure he makes lunch for his daughter. He stops all phone calls at four and spends time doing his email. After dinner, he does something different each day. At eight each night he picks something special to do, every day. And he does all this on a regular basis, no exception.

It is not that he does less work, but he has created boundaries and has given himself things to look forward to at the end of the day.

Another person has upped their exercise time and goes on long walks. They are excited because they are in better shape, which makes them happier.

In our verse today, This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. This verse applies to life’s problems, especially now. Life won’t always be perfect, but God will always be with us.

This is what my friend Lou did. His church, A Church by the Bay, he just started hasn’t met in two months. Through prayer, he discovered another ministry. And bravely with his faith marched forward with the new path of his new reality. Today, through volunteers he makes two hundred and fifty meals a week for shut-ins.

How does he do this and still comply with social distancing? The meals are made in people’s homes instead of in a communal kitchen. Then dropped off at a collection center. Another person picks up the meals and then puts them on the doorsteps of the shut-ins. All complying with social distancing, but still getting meals to those who need them.

Lou also now sends out a daily Bible verse and records a short message on his Facebook page, A Church by the Bay. Every day, four thousand people hear or read his messages.

Lou gave his worries to God and listened for a different way to live. He is busier today than a few months ago. There is joy in his voice. An unusual event occurred that gave him new income. Sure Lou, who is very social, would love to be with people, but this is his new reality.

Lou knows this isn’t normal what we are doing today, to avoid getting worn down, Lou has reoriented and reinvented his life. He gave God his worries and bravely off he went.

Today is a new reality. And we shouldn’t accept it as a new normal. By recognizing it as different and not normal means we have to act differently. It means we have to be creative and identify what makes us not only productive but gives us hope, joy and human interaction.

Being Christian doesn’t mean we won’t have problems, rather how we handle problems is different. That was God’s message to Joshua thousands of years ago, to be strong and know that whatever happens in our lives, God is with us wherever we go, even with our new reality.

Listen to the Full Podcast – It’s Not the New Normal

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash