Listen, I know you’re likely in one camp or the other: you embrace this term or you reject it. I have swayed back and forth for various reasons, some of which I will explain.
On the one hand, yes, we will have a “new normal” because none of us has ever experienced anything like this. Yes, our oldest generation has gone through worse. I believe that: think of the world wars, the great depression, genocides, etc. But this is different. COVID has happened in an age of information that is historically unrivaled. News travels fast – lightning fast – whether it’s true or not, and often influences so efficiently that if it is later debunked, it is hard for people to believe the actual truth. I believe we also live in a very fearful age. I actually think that safety has ironically made us more fearful. We live so safe and clean and healthy (at least we perceive life to be this way) that we are terrified of a bad cold, needing a few stitches or a surgery, offending people, the list goes on and on. And so this fear fed the narrative – I don’t think you can disagree with this no matter what side you fall in your beliefs about this virus and its socioeconomic effects. And when you have been taught to fear something, it is very hard to walk away from that. Worldwide lockdowns, terminology no one had ever heard before (social distancing, anyone??), confusing science and data have left us in a very different place than we were five months ago. And those living in epicentres or who have lost friends or family members will be scarred and will never go back to the normal they knew before.
On the other hand, I can see that there are freedoms we have given up in the name of health and safety that I still believe we should get back. Using the terminology “new normal” has the potential of convincing people that these freedoms are no longer our right. That we are too vulnerable to stand closer than six feet apart as we might get sick or get someone else sick. That we will accept the prices of groceries that have steeply risen or the extra taxes we’ll inevitably be paying to handle the government financial aid that many of us have received. I know these things are par for the course in the middle of it all but I am concerned that over time, these things will continue even though the virus itself passes. That we will be quick to do things we are told even when they are unreasonable. People aren’t meant to live alone and stay apart. I certainly intend to fight the new normal in that area at least.
So here’s the third perspective. Hopefully a Godly one.
I embrace the New Normal. Not the losses in freedoms or the fear of disease. I wholeheartedly embrace what God has been doing in the Church during this time. I believe that many who were lukewarm have become hot in this time. I know that there will be some who let their love grow cold, and will fall away. I do not deny that. But I feel revival in my heart, in my family, in the Church. I have experienced beautiful community borne out of trial and I don’t ever want to lose that, not to go back to what was “normal” before. I have prayed more, worshiped more, read more of the Word. I am revived, even in the middle of global crisis.
Yes, I still get frustrated. I still feel sorrow over what has transpired, over lives lost or in ruin. I still wonder when it’s going to end. But then I actually didn’t want it to end too soon. I wanted a chance for more of the Church to grab hold of something incredible.
In the first few weeks of lockdowns and health orders, I woke up with part of a song in my head: “You take what the enemy meant for evil, and you turn it for good.” I have tried to make that my anthem for the last few months. No matter what was meant for evil, He can turn it for good.