Updated: Apr 22, 2020
A New Kind of Normal
In January 2019 I started a blog. My first posting was entitled “2019: The Year of Defeat”. I shared my view of the new year and all the weaknesses and fears I was planning to PUNCH. IN. THE. FACE.
I was tired of complacency.
I wanted to grow and mature in attitude and in spirit. I wanted to make sure I became the kind of person people wanted on their team. I wanted to have good ideas come to me that were truly God inspired. I tackled 2019 with FULL FORCE! I was faced with many challenges and opportunities that pushed me, humbled me, and quite frankly scared me to death. I learned a lot. I failed. I succeeded. I grew.
Fast forward to 2020. Nathan and I went into this new year with our friends at Vanquish Studio recording our newest EP “Tell the World”. I did not write any resolutions. I never got around to sitting down and writing out any particular goals. The plan was just to embrace the new year and to continue growing.
Our calendar for 2020 was already pretty full and we were excited to be involved in a lot of very cool things. I had a strange feeling about 2020. I had this feeling that the reason I couldn’t peacefully SET GOALS was because it was going to end up going very different than we would plan. I am not at all attempting to sound prophetic, because this feeling was just for my little family and I had NO IDEA what the future was going to hold.
God was directing us on a new path. I have no idea how many times we felt clueless and uncertain in the first few weeks of the year, but God kept reminding us time after time “trust me and I’ll take care of you and your family”. But I felt overwhelmed on a daily basis.
Then it happened. We started seeing the words “Coronavirus”, “COVID-19”, “pandemic”, and “stay home!” It’s been weeks since I have seen Lysol wipes or toilet paper stocked on shelves in a store. If you’re naturally reactionary, you probably fell quickly into the “panic buyer” category. Now there is a limit of two on milk, eggs, bread, and cases of water. We’re no longer just buying out of panic! We’re buying out of necessity to limit our need to go out in public. I have never gone this long in my life without attending a congregated church service, a coffee date with friends, or running “errands” at TJ Maxx! In some ways, we haven’t felt the lack of busyness because we’ve worked diligently on connecting with people in our community, the social media world, and of course…we have two boys under the age of three that keep us PLENTY busy! If you or a loved one are battling COVID-19, please know that my family is praying for you and we are doing our very best to help flatten the curve. #STAYHOME
I needed to see people become more authentic.
I need to see even the professionals, who already have the best live streaming capabilities, work outside of their norm to be as relevant and effective as possible.
Music artists have cancelled concerts and are doing raw, unmixed acoustic sets at home.
Sports centers are encouraging others to go outside and play ball with your kids.
Bikes, playgrounds, basketball goals, trampolines, water slides all seem to be more in demand right now. People are planting gardens, painting, building, repairing, and cooking. My neighborhood has A MILLION KIDS that I have never seen until now.
I did not need a pandemic. I do not WANT a pandemic. I’m still very concerned and alarmed by it all.
I did, however, need to see people slow down and go back to learning how to communicate with more than an email or a text.
I needed to see people appreciate art. I needed to see musicians do IG Live events and it not always be perfect. It's allowed me to work on giving myself grace and push me to be ok with my own lack of perfection.
I have noticed a paradigm shift that has helped us not be so judgmental of one another because we’re all just doing the best we can to succeed through it all.
I hope that we’re learning a NEW normal. Eventually we’ll be back at our jobs, we’ll be able to shop freely again, the kids will be back in school, churches will congregate together again, and we’ll be back to what we have always known as “normal”.
Maybe you haven't handled your "new norm for now" very well. Maybe you had your life together and everything was just fine the way it was.
I personally needed a wake up call.
The passage in the Bible that tells us about the children of Israel heading to the promise land. They lived in BONDAGE in Egypt. They were slaves. God allowed them an escape from their bondage!
What did they do two months after being freed from slavery? They complained.
Exodus 16:1-3 says:
(1)The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. (2) In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. (3) The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! THERE we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."
Heaven HELP US not to complain about what has enslaved us in the past…complacency…busyness…unrighteousness...exhaustion...
BONDAGE was comfortable to the children of Israel. They had to go through a long transition in order to reach the Promise Land and it wasn’t easy. But going back to Egypt was not the answer.
I know some of us are worried financially. There’s a fear of what the economic impact will be on our personal lives.
I love what followed the Israelites statement of preferring to die in Egypt than to be free and hungry…
(4) Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. (5) On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days." (6) So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt,
What will be your new normal when we get back to “the way things were”?
I wanted to share my thoughts from last year on defeating different fears to inspire you to think beyond this particular season (the pandemic), but what we’ll do to continue growing spiritually AFTER the pandemic.
1. DEFEAT FEAR
Don’t be a slave to fear! We are children of the King! (1 Peter 2:9)
For real though. Don’t let fear be the reason you don’t do something that you feel with every fiber of your being is what you are purposed to do. But more than just conquering fear to reach a goal, don’t be afraid to be teachable. You’re afraid you are going to fail? BE TEACHABLE. Surround yourself with people that are encouraging, wise, and experienced. You don’t know everything about something you know nothing about. (Read it again. I promise it makes sense.)
There are several times that the Bible mentions overcoming fear, but I want to make note of three verses we can use as we take baby steps towards defeating fear.
When you feel like you are not strong enough to handle the task:
Isaiah 41:10 - FEAR NOT, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
When you are worried about what other people may think:
Deuteronomy 31:6 - “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
When you feel insecurity and anxiety kicking in:
2 Timothy 1:7 - For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Stop worrying so much about what other people are going to think. I felt to start a blog, but I struggle to publish articles because of fear. I have knots in my stomach before taking a mic to speak or sing because…fear. I refuse to acknowledge myself as a musician because “I could be better” and I don’t want anyone to judge. Don’t get me started on live streams! I am an awkward person more than I care to admit and I don’t want people to see that. [insert the little monkey emoji covering his eyes]. Nathan and I did our first IG Live last week and it was weird for the first 45 minutes! Then we just started singing and the presence of God was so strong. People messaged us thanking us! And I’m over here like “but I wasn’t funny and I was awkward! How did that encourage you?!” - but God. That’s what I have to remember. I am nothing, but God is everything and His spirit dwells inside of me.
Fear can be such a liar. Defeat it.
2. DEFEAT EXCUSES
Don't be a slave to excuses.
People are funny. We say “We need to get together sometime” or “I need to come see you”, yet time gets away from us and before we know it we’ve been saying for three years we’re going to meet up for coffee or have a Skype date with our long distance friend but it hasn’t happened yet. We speak one day wonders. “One day I want to go to Africa”, “One day I want to own my own business”, and “One day I want to get back in school”. Well…what are you doing to obtain your goals? (but for real…make time for your friends. They need you as much as you need them.) These are just simple examples. Only you and God know what your deep-down-in-your-heart desires are. If you want it, prayerfully prepare to make it happen. Don’t be discouraged if you fail a few times along your journey. Do you really even succeed if you have never experienced failure? Don’t be discouraged if God shuts doors. His plans are bigger and better than yours anyways! Your job is to make sure you are taking baby steps right now to be the person God created you to be.
3. DEFEAT THE “BUT-WHAT-ABOUT ME’S”
Don't be a slave to selfishness.
I could just said “DEFEAT SELFISHNESS” but that wouldn’t be NEAR as wordy or as memorable, so “but-what-about-me” it is as my third and final defeat! Hopefully this topic won’t hit you as hard as it hit me. Then again, maybe you need some encouragement because you have a type A personality like me and you want to defeat this devil.
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus talked to his disciples about praying and fasting in secret rather than doing so to impress others. He lets us know that when we are praying and fasting “in secret” we will be rewarded openly. I believe this applies to more than just prayer and fasting. Consider yourself a part of a secret service! Those words from Jesus apply to anything we are doing behind the scenes. How are you investing into your marriage? Your kids? Your church? Your friends? How you manage your priorities matter to God.
Since I’m being so real with you all, there have been moments in my life where I did not receive recognition that I felt was *deserved*. I absolutely hate the fact that I've experienced unnecessary jealousy! I’m a great person too, RIGHT?! Those selfish moments are the very reason I believe in conviction and thank GOD that His word is still relevant for my life in this decade.
God honors humility. He honors faithfulness. You will be BLESSED when you prioritize God and your family. WHO CARES IF YOU RECEIVE THE CREDIT OR NOT?! Our ultimate goal should be to hear those words from our Heavenly Father “Well done, good and faithful servant…”
Baby steps. Maybe you have something different to defeat and improve on this year than what I've mentioned. Maybe you feel like you’ve messed up in your marriage, as a parent, as a Christian, or whatever stage of life you may be in. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by what you need to do to “fix yourself”. Take a breath, count to 10, say a prayer, and walk one step at a time.
Please remember you are not alone even though it’s easy to feel that way while we’re practicing social distancing.
You are more than a conqueror through Christ!
Please take time during the pandemic to draw closer to God. If you want a Bible Study, Nathan and I have zoom, facetime, skype, or whatever else we need to go through a Bible Study with you. If you have questions about what you need to do to be ready for the returning of Christ, message me! We’ll get through all of this together. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS TIME to breathe, HEAL, and strengthen your relationship with God.
Special shout out to my husband Nathan French for featuring this article on his podcast! Thank you for loving and supporting me always!
You can listen to the episode where he reads this article on our website or you can subscribe to his podcast Noteworthy with Nathan French through Apple podcast, Spotify, or Anchor.