Pastor Jack Freed used this quote this morning in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Everything is simple.” (Mike Corrao)
Jack when on to write about keeping things simple and not overthinking things. He used the example of how a child might think about things – simple and straightforward, without the guile that comes with age. He also cited the words of Jesus – “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 18:9-17)
The point is that, in order to keep things simple, we need to avoid overthinking them and loading them up with interpretations, conspiracy theories and other mental baggage that are just figments of our imagination. We must accept things as they are and as they happen and then adjust our lives to fit the situation. Changing the way things are is not an option. Changing the way we react to things is within our power.
We hear a lot about the “new normal” these days, on the news shows and in conversations. We also see quite a few stories about people who are trying to deny or resist the changes that are required to live normally these days – those who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing is the name of personal freedom.
One might logically ask, what is “normal”? The dictionary defines it as “the usual, average, or typical state or condition”. The thing is that normal is, and always will be, a moving target. What was normal yesterday will not necessarily define what is normal today. A simple example is how we dress each day. “Normal” dress during the summer months is quite different from that which is expected and normal during the winter months.
The reason that we seldom notice and rail against most of the changes to our normal lives is that those changes usually take place over an extended period. We have time to adjust. Certain events like deaths often happen suddenly and without warning and they do disturb our normal lives. Many changes are so small that we don’t perceive how our lives have changed to accommodate them or we have time to adjust our reactions to those changes.
Then there is a pandemic and everything changes rapidly and greatly. Our “normal” lives are turned upside down and nothing feels normal anymore. What are we to do? Perhaps the advice that Jesus was trying to convey provides the answer. We must become like children, accept the changes and go on with life. Trying to resist the change that COVID-19 has brought with it is both futile and harmful. Those who refuse to accept it, refuse to wear masks in public and refuse to social distance as a means of keeping others safe are like the little child who throws a fit when things don’t go his or her way. Central to their behavior is their absolute self-centered refusal to be concerned for the safety and well-being of others.
Jesus told us that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39), not that we must love ourselves above our neighbors. Not practicing the safety measures that our health experts have recommended to keep others safe is a sure sign that we are not heading Jesus message. Wearing a mask and social distancing is not about you; it is about committing to the safety of those around you – it is about loving your neighbors. It is simple. It is about doing what is right.
So, what is our new normal? It is all of the things that are expected of us to fulfill our roll as part of a society and not as an anarchy of individuals. It is showing love and respect for our neighbors by doing the things that have been recommended to keep us all safe. It is being childlike in our acceptance of the changes required in our daily lives without throwing childlike fits when those changes make reasonable demands upon us. It is acting upon the words of Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves and doing our part to keep them safe.
It really is simple. It is the new normal.