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What is "normal?"

What is "normal?"

In your best words…describe what is “normal.” Would you name the kind of car you drive? Where you live? Who you hang out with? What time you go to bed every night? What your go to meal is? I just named five different questions with almost an infinite number of possible answers from any given person. So once again I pose the question…what actually is “normal?”

As you may already be able to tell I think this is a little bit of a trick question and I’m beginning to realize it might not be quite as black and white as I had perceived. Recognizing this really got me thinking about this idea of what is “normal?” I talked about this recently with a good friend of mine, Colton Jackson, on his podcast (check out the Worship Collective podcast) and this is essentially what we came to the conclusion of…

When I say that my life, or something about my life, is normal, what I’m inherently stating is that the way everyone else lives is not normal. I get it, initially that sounds overly dramatic, but when you look big picture…there’s some truth to this. My idea of normal looks completely different from what any of the people I interact with daily would consider normal. Then my perspective is naturally shaped around my perception of things, which from what I’ve began to realize is skewed based off what I have either grown up with, experienced, or even been told was “normal.”

I asked a handful of people that I interact with daily to give me a brief synopsis of things that they thought were normal growing up and here are just a few examples that were mentioned…

- hot Texas summers

- cold northeast winters

- going to lunch at grandma’s every Sunday

- working on the lake every summer

- spending weekdays with mom and weekends with dad

These are just a few examples of things that five different people said were completely normal in their lives. With this in mind, I believe it suggests a few things about this idea of normality. The first thing is what I have stated previously above; we cannot classify our own lives as normal because of what it suggests about everyone else’s lives. According to Webster’s the definition of normal is, “the usual, average, or typical state or condition.” All of these people would say the things above were completely normal in their context…

Second, in my mind this only reinforces that idea of listening to other’s stories. If we want to begin to understand what others call normal, we have to hear where they’ve come from and everything that comes with who they are. We are shaped by the things we experience and that is what defines our own personal story…and we need to listen to the perspectives that other people carry regardless of whether we agree or disagree. Listening, and truly listening, is what should be happening.

Lastly, I believe it suggests that we have a greater call as human beings, as I have stated in a previous post, that through these stories and perspectives we should be constantly shaping our own. Not to say everything we listen to has to be something we agree upon or get on board with, but they should be listened to and allowed to be heard from every outside perspective. Ultimately I think what this comes down to is, compassion and a hope to understand should be all of our first steps as humans toward one another.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of the ways that I personally am able to give my perspective and tell my own stories.

Talk soon,

- Tyler