Life & Relationships

The Paradox Of What’s Normal

I’ve always enjoyed watching movies about pandemics, but never would I imagine that we would undergo this as a shared global experience. Regardless of country, race or religion, we now all understand what it is like to live in quarantine (we call it “circuit breaker” in Singapore).

Now, phrases like “safe-distancing”, reminders to wear a mask when we step out of the house, to wash and sanitise our hands are commonplace. We have also witnessed panic-buying, made the rapid (and desperate) transition to an online world of meetings, church services and social gatherings.

This is definitely one for the history books, or rather the online historical archives. Nothing is “normal” this time.

The things we used to take for granted—our freedom to go out when we want, to earn a living, to meet our friends without wearing a mask, to feel safe walking around in public—has come to an abrupt halt.

 

 

This pandemic is our “Good Friday” moment

Over the recent Lent period, God was leading me to reflect on Jesus’ last days on earth: it feels like we may be experiencing some kind of “Good Friday” today. 

The disciples on Good Friday witnessed the torture and death of their beloved Leader, Teacher and Friend. They were likely filled with a deep sense of grief, uncertainty, confusion, anger, fear for what happened and what lay ahead.

Perhaps this “circuit breaker” has triggered similar emotions for you and me, which we need to grapple with as we adjust to this “new normal.” 

We all may be in the same storm, but we are in different boats. Each of us is experiencing this pandemic in our unique way. However, most of us probably share a desire for things to quickly “return to normal.” 

This is an extremely stressful time for some—those who have lost jobs and income, those who live in real fear of the virus threat, parents who are overwhelmed working from home coupled with the demands of home-based learning for their kids.

Also keeping in mind those who have fallen sick or lost loved ones, those who are frontline healthcare workers and helping professionals in essential services that are working hard to keep things going. We pray for them and are ever so grateful for them. 

 

 

There was nothing “normal” about Good Friday.

The trial that Jesus faced was illegal, unjust and full of contradictions that led to the crucifixion of an innocent man. From the perspective of the disciples on Good Friday, the loss and death of Jesus appeared to be a great tragedy of defeat and shame—the Jesus whom they gave their lives to follow was crucified as if He was a criminal. It is not normal for God to sacrifice His only Son to such a terrible death, all because of love for mankind. 

Yet the paradox of Good Friday is this: what was “not normal”, was good and necessary for God’s purposes to be fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

The great shame and defeat that Jesus suffered brought the greatest victory and glory for God—resulting in the salvation of all mankind because of the sacrifice of His beloved Son. God used what was so “abnormal” and “unusual” to fulfill His higher and greater purposes for the good of us all.

The story doesn’t end on Good Friday because Resurrection Sunday is coming!

God assured me that what the enemy meant for evil, God is ABLE to redeem for His higher and greater purposes. I wonder then if He could also be inviting us to trust Him, and instead look at our circumstances through our spiritual eyes?

 

 

Perhaps our lives being “not normal”, could actually be good for us. And the things that used to be “normal” to us may not be good for us and God may be using this Circuit Breaker to stop us going down the path of “further destruction.”

What is familiar may or may not always be good. Could it be that God is challenging us to realign our priorities and values back to His?

So, what is “normal”? 

  • Being consumed by busyness, distracted with busyness is normal.
  • Living life without boundaries and limits is normal.
  • Finding our significance and worth in how much we do, what we do, how much we earn, how we perform is normal.
  • Living our separate lives and not having time to connect with family who live with us is normal.
  • Spending more time at work than with our children is normal.
  • Not dealing with conflicts in family relationships and friendships is normal.
  • Caring for others and neglecting our own self care is normal.
  • Being addicted to our work and social lives so we are distracted from the discomfort of being alone with ourselves, and facing difficult emotions is normal.
  • Being hard on ourselves is normal.
  • Being hard on others is normal.
  • Depending on our own abilities, strengths, talents, past experiences, rather than God, is normal.
  • Trusting in our own resources is normal.
  • Living for our own plans instead of God’s purposes is normal.
  • Fearing men’s opinion instead of God’s opinion is normal.
  • Not praying enough is normal.
  • Loving something else or someone else more than God is normal.

If all these are not normal to you—well done, for you are further along the journey than most of us. 

 

 

Start embracing your new “normal”

If any of the above applies to you, as they did to me, I sense God lovingly inviting us to consider which part of normal is worth getting back to.

  • What might God be wanting us to discover, to learn about Him and ourselves through this unusual season?
  •  Perhaps God is inviting us to consider a NEW NORMAL that is healthier and better for us, and aligned to His values.
  • Could there be a paradox that this dark time in history may be good for us if we let God redeem it?

May this reflection fill you with HOPE & may God give us His grace to embrace this unusual season of darkness, that we may we come out of this transformed more into the likeness of His Son.

Such that it would lead us to greater self-awareness, self-compassion, restored relationships, love for those around us, healthy boundaries, creativity in work, life and ministry.

That we would move towards a values-based living, living by godly convictions, deeper dependence on the Holy Spirit, deeper knowing & trusting in who God is and a purer love and devotion to Jesus.

That would become our NEW NORMAL. 

Pamela Koh has been on staff with Cru Asia for more than 15 years. She also worked with university students in Nagoya, Japan for 6 years. She went on to do her Masters in Counselling upon returning to Singapore and is currently a registered counsellor and clinical member with the Singapore Association of Counselling and a certified EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) Therapist.

She is now with the Leadership Development Human Resource,  and provides counselling and member-care within Cru Singapore.

Pamela loves reading, traveling and learning to cook. She also enjoys watching videos related to mental health, cosmetics or make-up in her free time. 

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