Monday, July 9, 2012

My normal is not... normal

I'm back from a week-long vacation with my family.  I use the term, vacation, loosely.  Seriously, are there actually people out there in the world that consider a visit with their families a vacation?  Anyway, I was with my family.  I was with my mom and dad, my three brothers and their respective wives, and all the grandchildren, plus one plus one great-grandson and one girlfriend.  The only person missing, from what we could call a family reunion, but we won't, because I was told in no uncertain terms that it wasn't, was my son.  (he says he feels bad about missing this, but I assured him he had a very good end of this stick)  I'm back and I'm back to work and I'm back to blogging and I'm hoping upon hope, I'm back to normal.

My plan was to live as if I was from a planet of goodness and light and to treat everyone as if they were from my planet.  This was a good plan, and for the most part, it worked.  You know what they say about trash talking and gossipping, you improve the situation 100% by saying nothing at all.  Saying something nice or giving a compliment is a bonus.  Let's just say, for the most part, there was 100% improvement in the way my family dealt with each other this week.  It had more than it's share of pregnant pauses, but this was much improvement over criticism and sarcasm.

I wasn't able to completely live as if I was from the planet of goodness and light.  I don't know how to do this.  What I did do was make Romans 12:3 the wallpaper of my iPhone.  "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."  Even when my brother teased me about smoking and lying about it to my mom and dad when I was in h.s.  (seriously, I quit 21 years ago)  Even when my brother teased me about playing with my phone.  (didn't he know I was reading the verse over and over again?)  Even when I feel like a fatso next to my slim sisters-in-law.  Even when I second guess myself over every move I make or comment I speak.  No mater what I did I never thought of myself more highly than I ought.  I tried, oh so hard, to think that no one was thinking of themselves more highly than they ought.

I saw people pitching in and helping make food and clean up after food was served.  I saw brothers bringing water toys for all to play with in the lake.  I saw sisters-in-law sharing clean-up help and offering help wherever needed.  I saw grandchildren playing games together and accepting each other and enjoying the games without fierce or demeaning competition.  It was a huge change for me to focus on the good and beautiful and not the flaws and ugly.  It felt good to do it.  It felt good, but it didn't feel normal.

There were so many times during this week that I reflected on the way it felt to look for the good and to overlook the mistakes.  I want this to be my normal.  I was proud of myself for letting the comment of my misspent youth roll off my back.  I forgave myself for dwelling on cake-balls that didn't turn out as pretty as was hoped.  (I got over it, but it took longer than it needed to take)  I want to be that "live and let live" kind of person.  My heart broke for my niece as her idol crush was criticized by her cousins and me.  Why do we do this?  I know my sisters-in-law saw how close she came to tears.  I wanted to tell her how proud I was of her to come back to the group when we promised to change the subject.  I saw her grapple with her feelings that night and then return the next morning with a smile on her face and embrace us without any bad feelings.

I could tell my niece and her mom of the awe I felt as I could see the change of heart my brother showed to his family and siblings.  Why couldn't I say it to him?  Instead, I only spoke to him about the moments he fell short.  I want a new normal that does the opposite.  I want to praise the progress and minimize that slips.  This is who I want to be.

I have a beautiful family.  As a family, we are abundantly blessed.  There was news of a new baby on the way.  There was positive cash flow in our corporation during tough economic times.  There was laughter and hugs and graduations and college plans and new jobs.  This is all good stuff.  This is a family that is richly blessed.  I want my normal to have the blessings be my focus.  I want my normal to let the critical comments go unheard.  We all grow at a different pace.  I want my normal to be the encourager of growth and the ignorer of missteps.  I had moments of feeling how this new normal would feel, and it feels good.  I want to give up competing with my brothers and compliment them.  I want to cover flaws with love.  My dad was very quiet this week.  I'm hoping he saw a glimpse of what the new normal can be for our family and decide it's the way he wants his normal to be, too.  I hope...

405.  Pleasant visit with family
406.  Safe travel for all of us
407.  My house didn't get hit by the giant limb (about the size of a small tree) that fell in the storm on Friday
408.  A break in the dreadfully hot weather
409.  Being welcomed home by my son
410.  I still have a job (they fired two long-time employees while I was gone, 25 and 37 years each.  this place is getting scary)


  1. Welcome back!  I'm glad it went better than expected.  Family stuff is tough - I find myself in some situations like you describe above when we're all together.  

  2. smiles...good to see you today and i hope that new normal works out...and i think looking out for the good is a great thing...def a discipline...smiles...sounds like a lot of good things happened though

  3. Elizabeth StewartJuly 9, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    I LOVED this post!  I think it's the normal in our spirit, just not in our flesh, if that makes sense.  Via the internet, I'm patting you on the back and saying GOOD JOB! 

  4. FlowerpowermommaJuly 9, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    I missed you, but thankful for the success you had last week. Great job.

  5. Way to go. Learning to control those fleshy tendancies is hard. I want that to be my normal too!

  6. So glad you got to get a break and spend some good time with your family.  :)


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