Finding contentment in the ‘new normal’


It’s interesting to me to consider modern colloquialisms (popular words or phrases that we integrate into daily conversation).

They usually develop rather gradually over time, and before we know it, they become part of everyday English.

In recent days, I’ve noticed a few colloquialisms that have embedded themselves almost instantaneously. Think of how many times you’ve used or heard the term “social distancing” in the past 60 days.

Personally, I don’t know that I could put an accurate number on it. Without a doubt, I hear or read it dozens of times a day, and I probably say it a few times on top of that. Before this whole COVID-19 situation, I know those words had never left my lips together, and if I had heard them together, it wasn’t memorable. Now, they are part of our “new normal.”

Consequently, that brings us to yet another little gem we’ve added to our vernacular (insert sarcasm). This is a phrase that has been used in the past but certainly not with the frequency and consistency it is used today. It was something used on rare occasions in reference to individuals or specific communities. In our currently developing situation, however, it applies to everyone on the planet.

We are all trying to adjust and adapt to our “new normal.” I do not like it. In my head, I hear Julie Andrews singing that song about how she thinks about her favorite things when life is less than ideal. It’s not helpful. The vast majority of my favorite things are mitigated by the “social distancing” of our “new normal.”

I miss going to the mall to walk around. I miss the smell of the fresh-baked pretzels floating on the breeze and listening to a child (usually one of my own) trying to convince their parents of the merit of purchasing one for consumption.

I miss the random conversation with a perfect stranger about how a crazy item of clothing would look on them or me. I miss the sound of people talking and laughing together as they make their way through the stores. I understand that I can still shop from the safety of my own home, but it’s not the shopping that I miss.

I miss going to church. I miss the handshakes, the fist-bumps and the hugs from my people. I miss the buzz of conversation that rises and falls before and after the service. I miss the sound of people singing together as we make our way through a song. I miss the smiles and even the occasional sneers that creep across people’s faces when I make a point they like or dislike as the case may be. I miss going to our favorite local restaurants for lunch after services are over.

I am certainly grateful for the wonder of modern technology that has provided us with so many wonderful avenues for connection and communication. Churches the world over are learning how to create meaningful worship experiences at a distance, but it’s not the place I miss.

I miss people. I miss community. I miss interpersonal contact beyond my immediate family. I miss life as it was, and honestly, I am struggling to accept the “new normal” that “social distancing” has created, and I’m concerned about how much of it will be permanent. At times, I feel like a prisoner of “social distancing” and the “new normal.” Much like many of you, I’m struggling to find contentment in our current season.

The words of Paul in the book of Philippians are perfect for this moment in history. Paul was currently stuck in prison, dealing with varying degrees of “social distancing” and an ever-changing “new normal.” He writes, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

We, like Paul, need to learn to appreciate the good we have in the absence of what we want. I find this to be particularly true for we Americans. We are used to being overstimulated and oversatisfied, which naturally leads to discontentment when we can’t get what we want, when we want it and how we want it.

But God has been more than gracious. Perhaps the greatest blessing of our “new normal” will be true contentment.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

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