What is normal? I have loved studying the Old Testament this year and seeing how normal the people are in there. We see the good they do, the bad they do, and how the Lord gives them opportunity to repent and to learn from their mistakes. To change their way of thinking or doing. But through their change they become extraordinary people. Not one of them is perfect, none of us are. There was only one perfect person who ever lived, Jesus Christ, and He gives us His grace and help so that we can work to become better. He also provided us with the instruction and example to become better.
It’s interesting, when I was a teenager I though my family was pretty normal. We enjoyed each other’s company, we had the occasional sibling fight, but usually got along pretty well. We spent time in activities and Church, jobs and school. But as I have grown up, I realize that what I considered normal could be completely different from what someone else may have considered normal growing up. And what I considered to be commonplace may not be common at all.
It is so easy to look around at other people’s circumstances and to either judge them poorly, or put them on a pedestal, assuming that their life must be a lot worse, or more perfect than ours depending on how we were raised. I don’t believe there is one correct normal as far as the world goes, as far as how we should raise families, or what we should focus our time and energies on. I believe there are some important basics that are the same across the board, but how we get there can be as varied as every human being is. We are all blessed with different talents and abilities. We all have different perspectives based upon how we were raised and the influences that we allow to surround us.
It’s fun to talk to my daughter on her mission. She has been blessed with companions from all over the United States, coming from all sorts of “normal” families, with different perspectives and ideas about the “right way” to do everything. She is learning how to navigate through these situations as they arise, deciding what is important to her, and where to jump on board with a different idea or perspective. It’s been a great learning process.
Marriage is another great example of discovering that your normal was not everyone’s normal. My husband and I both came from wonderful homes. We had loving parents who took great care of us. We were both raised as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we both have the same core beliefs and values. But that is where the similarities ended. How we viewed the path to the same end goal was quite different. How we wanted to go about accomplishing the variety of tasks associated with daily living was totally different. We have had to work on creating a “normal” that fits our lives together.
So, back to the Old Testament. I don’t think there is any such thing as perfectly normal. Normal is actually variety in all its forms. Good variety, the variety that gives life meaning and that brings joy to you and everyone around you. I think that normal is growth. Growth to become a little bit better than we were yesterday, to understand someone or something just a little bit more, and to never stop trying. That should be normal. And if that is our normal, then ordinary would never be what we become, if we are striving every day to be better in all sorts of ways, we become extraordinarily people.