Noramality, Normalcy and Peace

I love the cold. I always have. I’m not sure why. I remember growing up on the farm in the old farmhouse. There was no heat upstairs in our bedrooms. We either used a little electric heater and huddled around it in winter coats, knit hats and gloves during the coldest days of winter, or downstairs around a kerosene heater in the living room. The old house had registers in the floor of the second story for the heat to naturally gravitate upward, but it was cold. I think I liked it…I should probably ask my brother and sister if I ever complained. Check that, better off being ignorant on that one.

College in Georgia….oh, I hate the heat when I’m not on a beach. The AC ran in our room constantly. The other guys on my hall would walk past our room and the cold draft would blast their feet as it blew out from under our door. One roommate, poor guy, I literally froze him out- wrapped up in his blankets on the top bunk, the whole bunk bed shaking from his shivering as if he was in the early stage of hypothermia. But…. I love it.

And snow, I do love snow, but I’ve mentioned that before. Perhaps the cold is also the reason why Iris and I were married in Pittsburgh in January the afternoon before a major snow storm hit the East Coast. Or perhaps why we moved to Russia…. or lived in Alaska for a year….or why we moved to Mongolia. I know, the cold isn’t the only reason, but it is a reason if just a small one.

I have a rule (Iris calls it ridiculous), but it’s one I have in my head for whatever reason. The rule is that I don’t break out my real winter coat until the temps fall below 0ºF. Well, February 2nd was the first time temps crossed upward over the 0º line since the beginning of December. Three days ago it was 10º F. I went out to run errands in a thin flannel shirt and my down vest…and I was slightly warm. Warm? The middle two weeks of January temps were around -30 during the day dipping to around -40 at night. But after going through that for several weeks, and over two months since seeing positive temps, my body had acclimated.

The cold (or extreme cold depending on your perspective), had become normal. This happened when we lived on the edge of Siberia for two years, but I had forgotten about it. It was warm outside. The pollution even looks a little better nowadays as it’s getting warmer.  I had adjusted. The cold had become a new normality. I wonder when I’ll break out my shorts.

Life changes seem to either be super planned or catch us completely off guard, don’t they? It’s almost like there is no happy medium. When that shift happens, we are trying to constantly stabilize, search for solid footing and looking for any scrap for normalcy we can find. Perhaps that’s why the song “Oceans” is so moving to me- because we are asking God to take us beyond a point where our normality, our stability, is being stripped away. Willingly.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? We put our faith or hope in stability. Or, we put our hope for stability in earthly things. I do this far too often. If I have enough money, or security, or education, or a house, or, or, or……..the list is endless. Constantly groping for those things I think will finally, finally bring me the stability that I crave.

What I am learning, probably for the rest of my life, is that stability most likely will never fully come on this earth. I just won’t ever have it. But peace on the other hand, peace I have been given if I trust that what Christ says is true. My normalcy comes from Christ. If I am at peace, no matter what chaos is going on around me, I will be ok. Just because there is chaos around me, be it a particular situation or people who are chaotic, doesn’t mean that I must also become chaotic. We are amazing creatures, you and I. We are able, if we allow God to work, to adapt to anything that comes our way.

Not that I have mastered this, nor will I before this life ends. But, in trying and allowing God more control, my life has become more peaceful and will continue to do so. Allow yourself to find it’s new normal…in Christ.

Have you found normalcy in Christ? How has that journey gone? Are you struggling for peace among the chaos around you? What makes it so hard?





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