Authenticity, Relationship, Trusting God

Normal: Being Honest About Our Hearts

Moon hanging over a frozen pond-there is peace in a sense of normal, but there are dark times when there is no sense of normal

@JeanneTakenaka

Can I be honest and say I’m missing my “normal?” 

Normal tends to keep us grounded. It offers a sense of rhythm to our days, our lives, our spirits.

When “normal” is stripped away, as it has been recently, we’re forced to deal with the impact of that loss on our hearts. My normal defined my days. I knew what to expect. I gained a sense of achievement by accomplishing my tasks, by being on time to pick up the boys from school and then get them where they needed to be. 

A paved pathway leading to a darkened ancient doorway

The thing about normal and schedules is that we can also hide behind those appointments on our calendars. We can allow our hearts to become distracted by the doing and forget what it means to simply “Be” with our Father. 

Before lockdowns, we had better control in our relationships, because most of us didn’t spend too much time with that kid or teenager with the super power of driving us crazy. We didn’t consider the issues with our spouses, or other loved ones in the home, because one or more of us had jobs outside the house.

But, with life-as-we-know-it turned upside down, we’re forced to face facets of ourselves that we’ve ignored because, well, we could.

When we’re busy doing, we don’t always search our hearts. We don’t pause to listen to Jesus’ whispers. Or His warnings to stop, be still, and notice the sin-issues taking root.

A winter scene that reminds us sometimes normal feels stifled under uncertainty

Now that most of our “doing” has been forbidden, we have an abundance of time with our families, our loved ones, or a lot of time to ourselves. A part of us may want to fill it with stuff, to find a way to stay busy, maybe even to force a new rhythm of “normal.”

Being in a time of isolation—either by ourselves or in close proximity with others—reveals both winning and flawed aspects in each of our characters. It’s difficult for me to witness certain attitudes in our sons that we should have been more intentional about correcting. Now I’m viewing up close and personal some of the fruit of our choices.  

It was easier to discipline some actions than to train the hearts. Now, I’m viewing the fruit. But God . . . He can redeem the lacks in our parenting, in His time. 

A silhouetted picture of trees arching over a sidewalk at sunset. Sometimes we just need to walk forward to the other side

Maybe we’re discovering areas in our relationships with our spouses or others in our homes that we’ve ignored. We may be in a place, now, where we must choose how to respond. 

Will we criticize, or will we do the hard work of really talking through some of the lingering hurts? Will we wall ourselves off, or will we risk being vulnerable? Granted, this isn’t always possible. We’re living in a time unlike any we’ve ever experienced, and we have so many choices.

A meme with these words, "Maybe this is a season where God is calling us to something different, to something deeper. maybe He's inviting us into a more authentic relationship with HIm." on the backdrop of a road with silhouetted trees at sunset.

Maybe this is a season where God is calling us to something different, to something deeper. Maybe He’s inviting us into a more authentic relationship with Him. And maybe, He wants to do some healing work in us

As we grapple with walking through this season of rhythm-changes, of not having “normal,” here are a few ways to prepare our hearts, so we can live more fruitful external lives:

1. Choose to surrender our hearts to God each morning, to trust Him to lead us in our days. Choose to yield to the conversations and the activities He leads us to do. Choose to trust Him in whatever He allows into our days.

2. Spend daily time with God in His word. We may not have control over much in our lives right now, but we know the One who does. When we make Him our top priority, God equips us for whatever we will face.

3. Open our hearts to God’s prodding and repent from the sins He reveals. We can trust God will do the hard work in love.

A darkened enclosed cobblestone pathway with bright light at its end...symbolic of how God leads us through hard seasons

4. Be intentional in prayer. Most of us have way more time right now. Why not lift up family, friends, and situations to our Father’s throne?

5. Practice gratitude. Whether it’s something small like a sunny day after snow, or something bigger like the mom-win I had when I found an outdoor activity our boys actually enjoyed, let’s thank God.

A picture of outside wooden doors opening to a summery scene with trees and mountains on the other side

Is any of this easy? No! But, if we humble ourselves before our Father, He’ll meet us there and draw us closer to Himself. And what could we need more than that in this time? 

What about you? What has God revealed to you about your heart in this season? How are you drawing near to Him?

*****Life can be hard. Do you ever need a little encouragement on this journey? I’d love to walk with you.I’m excited to share a 28-day devotional ebook with my newsletter subscribers. Join the journey by clicking the image to receive this gift and uplifting thoughts monthly.*****

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35 thoughts on “Normal: Being Honest About Our Hearts”

    1. You are so right, Michele. I never would have called myself addicted to my routine, but yes, that’s apt. This is a great time to learn how to lean harder into Jesus. You stay healthy and hopeful too. 🙂

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  1. The funny thing about these days
    (and please don’t think me mean)
    is that in so many ways,
    the world follows my routine.
    Cancer’s bound me to my land,
    and pain ensures I do not leave;
    but is this grace, or frying-pan,
    or does that Gospel I believe
    define the truth of situation,
    with choice the arbiter of hope,
    and acceptance as amelioration
    of the loss, so I can cope
    and find, indeed, that I have risen
    from what others might have seen as prison?

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    1. Beautiful, Andrew! Yes, we all have a choice in how we perceive our circumstances, and this time we’re living in. What we believe about God will greatly sway how we think about and live out all that’s we’re facing now. I love that we can rise from the disappointments and the ashes of this time. You are living a risen life in your heart, my friend. Sending up prayers for you today.

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  2. I miss my “normal” too, Jeanne. Your post, so wise and encouraging, reminded me of this Anne Lamott quote: “I’ve heard it said that the Holy Spirit very rarely respects one’s comfort zones.” Maybe people will use this time as you suggest, becoming closer to the Lord, opening our hearts to His abundant love.

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    1. Laurie, I’m glad I’m not alone. I love that quote. It’s so true! God is always about the heart, not our comfort/zones. Thanks for that important reminder! May we each seek to draw closer to God in this season when we have more time to do so. 🙂

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  3. Suffering loss is transformative if we face it and walk into it and through it. As we process all we have lost right now- things like our normal routines, freedom, seeing others, our sense of safety – we are refined and transformed. We learn what really matters, we discover strength and patience, we find God in a new way and realize our reliance on him. Thanks for the post.

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    1. So true, Anne. I imagine we’ve all faced some losses during this time. And we do need to face it. We need to bring it before the Lord and ask for His healing and perspective through it. I loved all that you shared here, my friend. There is so much possibility for growth and depth in this time, don’t you think? Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  4. Navigating the new normal has been interesting indeed! I was reminded from an article by a school psychologist that it also a grief journey we are going through and to accept the steps along the way. If we push through without acknowledging how we are feeling about everything, we will have a harder time adapting in the long run. Your 5 tips are gentle reminding me too, that God’s always gentle with us and calling us to rest in Him.

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    1. Yes, Lynn, I believe it is a grief journey. We’ve all lost something (or many things) in this time. For one of my sons, it was a much-anticipated event and competition. For me, a gathering with close friends. For all of us, we’ve lost the sense of predictability and interactions and freedom of movement. And for some, it’s been the loss of loved ones. I think you’re right, we do need to acknowledge how we’re feeling and process it. I so appreciate your insights here. Thank you!

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  5. This is a difficult but also exciting time. I sense God moving in amazing and powerful ways in the world in the midst of our new normal.

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    1. I agree, Jessica. I believe there is a great capacity for God to move in ways we couldn’t have imagined even a month ago! It will be exciting to see what He does as the days and weeks unfold.

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  6. Yes, there are definitely times when I long to get back to normal, but I agree that God can use this time to grow us and shape us. I have definitely seen that this week. Without going into a long story I feel like over the last few weeks one part of “normal” after another has been taken away, and yesterday I faced the prospect of another change. As I was praying about it I realised I was clinging to this thing, putting my hope in it, thinking I couldn’t deal with it being taken away, but God was asking me to trust him and that I could deal with it because I still had him. I still wasn’t happy about it but reached the point of surrendering it to him, and then he worked things in a way I could never have predicted so it wasn’t taken away at all! It has been a real lesson in trust!

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    1. Awww, Lesley. I love your testimony here. It is funny how, when everything we’re used to is stripped away, we begin to see things that have become idols—or at least more important than they should—in our lives. I’m so glad God showed you this AND that He worked things in a surprising way for you. Isn’t He a good Father? Thanks so much for sharing. This is so encouraging!

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  7. Thank you for being so honest, Jeanne. This is powerful. You have such a gifted way of relating the aches we feel in our hearts and of helping us pause to search our own hearts. And this – “Maybe this is a season where God is calling us to something different, to something deeper. Maybe He’s inviting us into a more authentic relationship with Him. And maybe, He wants to do some healing work in us.” So true. And I’m so grateful He redeems whatever lacks we have when raising our children. Love and blessings of strength and wisdom and peace as you deal with this new “normal.”

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    1. Trudy, You are so encouraging. Thanks for your kind words. I’m grateful He redeems our lacks in child-raising too. That’s comforting as I watch our sons move closer to adulthood and independence and see things I wish I’d done differently. Love and blessings and strength and wisdom and peace to you too, sweet friend!

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  8. Thanks for this. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in my feelings towards these disrupted days. It definitely has a bit of a crucible type feeling to it.
    What has God revealed to me? Hmm.. not sure yet. I feel like I’m just getting my bearings.
    I actually did some good praying time for others yesterday on my walk.
    Perhaps some of my weak spots – like patience. :O

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  9. I do believe God is calling us to change up our routines. This is the perfect time to do it. The question I keep asking is will we keep the changes going long after the pandemic is over???

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    1. Yes to all you said, Mary! I’m still floundering some, but I’m trying to use this time to establish better habits, both for me, and for our family. I’ve been pondering that same question. I guess we will have to plan in our minds and hearts to continue the changes once life gets back to more of what we were familiar with.

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  10. Spending time reading God’s word and praying and practicing gratitude help me to deal with difficulties, and yet sometimes I’ll hurry through my devotions just when I need that time with the Lord the most! Thanks for your encouraging words and uplifting photos!

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    1. Yes, Kathy. I’m finding it essential to spend time in God’s word daily. I’ve been revamping my habits to do this first thing most mornings. I, too, struggle at times with hurrying through my time with the Lord to get into my day. May we both practice stillness in our times with Him.

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      1. Yes, this is a great time to slow down! We’re definitely doing that in our house. I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well! We are too. I hope your Easter is a special one, Ava!

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  11. Thank you so much for this, Jeanne. God has shown me my idols more than anything these days. When I dig a little into my fears, I see them pop up. This is beautiful, my friend. Praying for you to continue to encourage the Body of Christ in the ways He shows you! A sure blessing to you in these unsure times 🙂

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    1. Yes, Heidi. I’ve been seeing some of my idols too. It’s truly humbling to discover I still have some. Sigh. Thanks so much for your wisdom and for your prayers. You are a blessing as well!

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  12. Jeanne, I miss my normal too. With God’s help, I am trying to address my lifelong need for security and wanting to know how the story ends. This is definitely uncomfortable and there are no quick fixes. But now seems to be a good time to develop some faith stronger faith muscles. Hugs, friend.

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    1. Agreed, friend. I believe God is inviting us to go deeper with Him in faith during this time. It can be difficult to choose to give up what we think we need and trust that God knows the end of the story, even when we don’t. The good thing is, we can continue to spur each other on to greater faith and trust in the Lord. Sending you hugs back!

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  13. I’m praying we come out of this having learned to live differently and more deeply, in Christ. We have only so much time in this world, let’s make the most of it. After this pause in all of our lives, making the most of it might look a lot different than it did a month ago.

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    1. I agree with you. I can’t help but think God’s offering us an invitation to draw in closer to Him. We should be making every day count, especially once we have the opportunity to redefine normal when the restrictions are lifted.

      By the way, I enjoyed your post “He Will When I Can’t.” Great truths in there!

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