As you go through each day, do you ever observe the ease with which others do what you find extremely hard to do – like marriage, parenting, conversations, work?
When they speak of the intimacy in their marriage and the closeness with their husbands they have and enjoy, are you jealous?
When you see the patience with which they parent a screaming child or handle a disagreement, are you envious?
When others are able to set clear and healthy boundaries or have really good relationships with their families, do you wonder why you can’t do that or have that?
Do you have the craving to be “normal”?
I know I used to feel this way in the beginning of my marriage. Intimacy was the hardest part – a constant reminder of why I could never feel “normal”. I just wanted to not hyperventilate as my husband saw me change my clothes. Or have to work to not let my fears of the past keep me from being able to share intimacy with the one person who just thought his wife was desirable and wanted to show it. I wanted to stop closing my eyes and having tears squeeze out, hoping it would be over so I could cover up, relax, and breathe. And that went on for years and years.
When I had kids, I struggled to connect and show compassion in one moment, then found myself over-empathizing with their pain in the next. Both ends created a disconnect in my head, because I would see others working with their kids, in their homes, patiently dealing with bumps, bruises and hurt feelings in the appropriate ways. I could see and feel the difference between how I parented with fear, anxiety, or anger, and how others parented with love, confidence, and gentleness. I would do what they did, but always with the knowledge that it was not natural for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my kids, but I was just so afraid of getting hurt again that I disconnected or over-connected in all my interactions with them. I had to guard and protect – it was exhausting and made it very difficult to parent well. Then they hit the teens and I headed inside myself or lashed out in defensiveness.
Year after year went by and I just craved “normal”. I just wanted to not have this memory of my past intruding on every relationship and changing how I interacted. I wept so many days, just wanted my life to not have been what it had been. To not know what could happen to harm a person – body, mind, and soul – so I could enjoy people, live without fear of the “what-if” around every corner, and love my kids as the Lord intended. Sobbing I would cry out to the Lord, “I just want to be NORMAL! Help me just be “normal”!”
What I learned as I lived forward in this state, was that there were others who had been similarly wounded. So many others it made my heart ache for us all. The Lord helped me share my story and my struggles to just be normal. They understood – we had a shared craving in our heart to be whole and normal.
God patiently enabled me to see that without my past, I could never connect with those women who needed to know of His grace and truth through THEIR pain. To empathize with their struggle for normal. His message to me became very clear, “This IS your ‘normal’ because I want to reach other like-wounded women THROUGH your wounds. They will hear you when they would not hear someone that has never experienced abuse. This is the work I created for you before the foundation of the world, that you should walk in it for My glory. It will also heal YOU as I work in you for THEIR healing and transformation. Your faith in my working will grow and your testimony for who I am will increase. This will enable you to guide women to the truth that moves them forward to true life and freedom in ME.”
“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
My craving to be “normal” still pops up once in a while when I am tired or facing a new, daunting challenge. More often that not, though, I have learned to embrace His purpose for re-defining my “normal”. That perspective has removed jealousy and envy, freeing me to be loved by Him as I am, and become the powerful woman of God He can use to build His Kingdom. It really is all about Him anyway, isn’t it? I have an eternity to be with Him in the new heaven and earth where ALL tears and pain will be gone.
“3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” (Revelation 21:3-5)
For now I will rest in His leading as I step out to help others live forward with confidence in Christ and without fear, embracing their “God-shaped-normal”.