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When “Normal” is No More

Written by guest contributor Mike Tiemann

As we look back over the past two years of living through a worldwide pandemic—one that still continues to be a present reality in our lives—I think there’s one thing we can all agree on.

We’ve been through a lot.

We’ve been through a lot as individuals—some to an extreme degree. We’ve been through a lot collectively, as well.

Here we are, starting a brand-new calendar year. And it seems that any sense of “normal” is probably out the window. In other words, there’s no going back to the year 2019.

On one hand, that’s something to mourn. But it can also be an opportunity for us to grow—if we’re willing to hold on to what really matters and loosen our grip on the things that we couldn’t change anyway.

You see, the greatest joy we have as believers in Jesus is in knowing that our hope is not in this world. We might spend each day giving our all to try to force life to go the way we want it to. But it doesn’t take much life experience to discover that ultimately, we’re not in control.

So how do we keep the right perspective in the middle of sweeping changes in the world around us?

How do we “keep the faith” and stay optimistic—even joyful—when our circumstances are not bringing us joy?

How can we maintain a positive outlook for better days to come… instead of wishing things could be different?

Of course, there are lots of ways. But here are some that have been resonating with me.

Remember what’s true

One of the things I love about attending a traditional church is the emphasis on repetition. There is something powerful about reciting lasting words of faith that have given strength to believers over thousands of years of church history.

When we gather—whether it’s in our church building or online—of course we gain new insights from the messages of wise leaders. But we also take time to recite timeless truths, like how Jesus taught His friends to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Process as a family

In the context of family relationships, each person should feel valued and welcome to share their unfiltered thoughts and feelings. Each of us needs to feel safe and have the opportunity to express those thoughts and feelings so we don’t keep them bottled up inside.

Maybe for you, it’s some dedicated family time in the morning before the bus comes, to read a devotional and pray together.

Maybe you have a family chat set up on Hangouts… or an email address where you encourage your child to type out what they’re feeling, whenever they have something to say. (Some of us are more comfortable processing by writing than by talking.)

Maybe you could spend some time together at bedtime to talk and pray together—to “debrief” the day and celebrate the good things God is doing in your lives that you might otherwise miss. Because God is ALWAYS doing good things in our lives—even if we can’t always see them.

Find time to serve

One of the best weeks of 2021 for us was our time at Lighthouse Retreat #5 in Florida. No surprise there, right?

Some things about this Lighthouse trip were different. We enjoyed experiencing our time with Family Partners (volunteers) and Retreat Families in new ways. Most of all, it just felt so good to be serving again, with family, old friends, and new friends—despite all the challenges and changes in the world around us.

By the way, YOU can serve at Lighthouse with your family in 2022, because volunteer spots have now officially opened! Click here to see what serving with Lighthouse is all about.

We’ve been through a lot in 2020 and 2021… and we don’t know yet what’s in store for 2022. But no matter the circumstances, may it be a year of faith, hope, and even unexpected joy for you and your family.


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