I don’t want to go back to normal.

"I don’t want to go back to normal."

On this first day of 2021, I am holding a prayer in my heart.

I don’t want to go back to normal

Now don’t get me wrong, I want this pandemic to be over. I want Covid and quarantine and this ever-present danger to be done and gone forever. I want my grandma to be safe from this virus, for all the front-line workers to be out of harm’s way, and for every family to have enough food. I want connection and hugs and to watch my kids play at the park again. I want all that for sure.

But I don’t want to go back to normal.

Before the pandemic, “normal” was fast-moving, spinning and juggling, pushing and grueling, hustling and proving. It was pride in perfection, overdoing, and constant running. We never stopped running. Tired was a badge of honor we gave to those with the most plates spinning. 

We never stopped. Until we did. Until all this happened. Until the world shut down and (for those of us lucky enough to not be on the front lines) we were forced to stay home. In our houses with nowhere to go, we were forced to slow our pace and put the plates down. We were forced to look at ourselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, staying home can be its own kind of grueling. There is homeschooling and bored kids and worry about the future. I miss laughing with my dad and hanging out with my nieces. I miss gathering and shopping and eating food I don’t cook. I’ve had moments of darkness and depression and days when I’m on my knees. Grief has touched most parts of me, and I know that I’m one of the lucky ones.

Here’s what I’m getting at though: through all of this, something for me softened. Something changed inside of me and I began to see the world through a different lens. If I allowed it, the slowness became sacred. Time with my kids became more important. I started to revel in the quietness and appreciate what it’s like to not be juggling so many things. To not be running.

Life became simple. And there’s beauty in simplicity.

I see my daughter’s face more clearly now. I see how her smile is crooked when she’s cheeky. I see my son’s strength and gentleness. He’s becoming a man before my eyes. I see things I never saw before everything changed. We miss so much when we run.

I see how the drops of rain rest on the tree branch outside my window. I see how my puppy sinks into the rug in front of the fire and allows herself to be slow in the winter darkness. I see how she’s not afraid to stop. It feels really good to stop.

So now what? What happens when all of this is over? I don’t want my life to fall back into that excruciating pace I was keeping before the pandemic hit. I don’t want to miss so much of my life again.

I want to move slowly enough to hear myself think. I want to focus on the work that’s most important to me, and make my way through my days deliberately and with grace. I want to keep my family close to my heart and never get so busy again. I want to have real conversations with my daughter every single day, and relate to others with the clarity that only comes with being slow.

I don’t want to go back to normal.

How do we integrate the lessons of beauty and grief that we’ve learned through all of this, and let this new-found simplicity be our guide in creating something new? How do we find a way to put the spinning plates down forever and resist the temptation to ever run so fast again? How do we allow all of this to change us? Are we brave enough?

xx,

Michelle Long

P.S. Happening in just a couple weeks is the very first Sunday Service for Women. It’s a time where we can gather together from anywhere, honor what is true, and find hope through each other. It’s a gift from me to you, a space to honor the moment, especially as we embark on this new year. It’s a donation-based offering. The first one is happening on Sunday, January 17, 2021. I hope you will come. Scroll down, or go HERE for more info and save a spot.

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