“We will get through this,” my husband assured me. I nodded my head yes, unable to make words come.
He gripped my hand even more firmly. We both were feeling the pain of this moment. After over 20 years of marriage, words were unnecessary.
My husband accepted a call to a new church in New York, and now he was staying there while I was flying home to Colorado with our kids to finish their school year, pack the house, and close out the myriad details. We would be spending the next couple months not just living apart, but living with transition and uncertainty — each doing it without the physical support of the other.
I was starting my new normal.
What is a New Normal?
When life throws you into a major change and you will never go back to the way things used to be, this is your new normal.
A new normal can be positive, like when you have a new baby or start a great new job.
The challenge with a positive new normal is that you might make the assumption that you cannot allow yourself to see that even good life changes come with difficult adjustments. Even if you chose or wanted this life change, it still has hard parts. Please give yourself permission to have some needed break-down moments during those tough times.
A new normal can also be negative, like after the diagnosis of a serious illness or the death of a loved one. Life will never be the same and the grief process begins. With a negative new normal, you might give yourself permission to see the difficulty, but it’s tempting to tell yourself to buck up and get through it, or have high expectations for how you should be doing better.
Where Grace Comes From
Please understand, I am not suggesting that a tough life situation means it’s okay to wallow in sorrow forever or drown your misery in unhealthy habits like overeating, lying in bed for hours, or endless complaining. (Sad to say, I’ve done all these at different times, and each leads to feeling worse).
I also encourage you to seek help from a trained professional, such as a doctor or therapist, if needed. I’ve struggled with depression at different times in my life, and help is available. (I’ve written a number of times about this on my website, including this series: The Hope Toolbox for Sadness and Depression.)
Yet most important of all, here is a key truth: Jesus Christ gave you grace when He died on the cross to take away the punishment you deserved. He paid the price for your sins and mine. You already have freedom and new life!
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
Grace is a gift to you from Jesus. This is for your eternal salvation, and your daily life is also lived as a reflection of this truth.
When you allow yourself grace, you are living in the truth of what Jesus has already done for you.
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
3 Graces to Allow Yourself When You Are Adjusting to a New Normal
1. The Grace of Time
Give yourself the grace of time — time to adjust, and then even more time than you thought you needed. There will be the big adjustments you expected, but then there will be quirky little things that will hit you out of the blue.
I remember when my second daughter was born, my mom left after staying to help for a week, and my husband went back to work. I was alone with a toddler and a baby. I handled some of the big events like grocery story trips and getting through a church service with two. Then one morning the baby was crying and my toddler fell and hurt her finger. I totally freaked out. I called my best friend AND my husband in quick succession, telling them please come help me right now Bekah got hurt and the baby is crying and I don’t know what to do!
God bless them both, they came rushing over to find me sitting on the couch with a quietly nursing newborn and a toddler sitting next to me reading a book with a band aid on her scratched finger. I laugh at this story now (5 kids and many foster children later), but there was no laughter at the time!
You must also give yourself the grace of getting less done. When you are going through a huge life transition, it becomes like another part-time job. Whether it’s funeral arrangements, researching on the internet for hours the special needs of your child, or attending classes for a new business, you suddenly have all these new activities filling your hours.
It’s OKAY to hire a babysitter. It’s OKAY to fall behind on the housework. It’s OKAY to order take-out, or sign up for a meal planning service, where they’ll do all your meal planning for you so you have one less thing to think about. It is okay!
Stress also wears on you, and you simply will not be as productive. I have times I sit and do nothing, which I hate because I’m a type-A get-it-done person. I used to rebel against this, but I’ve now learned it’s part of my process and I make allowance for it.
2. The Grace of Space
When you are adjusting to a new normal, bring extra space into your life. When I was a new mom, I loved this new little human, but oh — the weight of having someone on my body 24/7 was exhausting! Sometimes I just needed a bit of space to breathe! Find it however works for you, if it’s going for a walk or run alone, time with a book instead of doing the dishes, or coffee with a friend.
If you need it, it’s okay to make some space between yourself and others, especially during the grief process. This is a tricky area to navigate because the temptation can easily become curling up alone forever. But it is okay to create a space for yourself.
Most important, create a sacred space in your life where you are listening to the Creator. This is such a critical life-point to make a habit of meeting with God and hearing His voice. Will your life revolve around Him or will this new normal veer off in your own direction? Give Him space first and foremost.
3. The Grace of a Pure Heart
My dear friend, as I have been writing this, I have prayed for you reading this that God would give you a purity of heart as you venture into your new normal.
Anytime you walk through a season of change, the temptation is great for your heart to become bitter.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
We all know women, unfortunately, who have fallen into this temptation. A classic example is a woman who has gone through a tough divorce and never quite recovered. She lives her life as a bitter, angry woman who thinks all men are evil.
Divorce is not the only situation that breeds a bitter heart. Any big life change can sew seeds of bitterness if you feel your circumstances are unfair.
Do not allow the enemy to root bitterness in your heart, but instead keep your heart soft by staying in the truth of God’s Word.
I’m still living in the midst of boxes and adjusting to my new normal as our family makes our transition to a church and a life in New York. While it’s not been easy, but I am allowing myself grace in these areas.
Are you adjusting to a new normal during this life season? How can you continue to live in God’s grace for you?