For years my prayer was “Please, God just give me a normal life. Let me be normal. Let me be comfortable”, and sometimes my prayer would drift towards asking for my life to look like someone else’s because somehow his or her life seemed better than mine.
I remember being 18 and sitting outside a tattoo parlor with my best friend and wanting so badly to walk in and get something inked on my body, but we drove away because in my circle, no one would have approved. I also remember that Erik and I had talked about eloping to get married and then have a big celebration later, but that wouldn’t have gone over very well either. Years ago we talked about adoption but at the time, we didn’t know a single person that had adopted to build their family.
I have had moments of breaking out of the “norm”… I hiked 250 miles of the Appalachian Trail with a boy I really barely knew after having done only one overnight hike in my entire life up to that point. I didn’t attend my college graduation because Erik and I were on the road moving to Connecticut before moving to Hawaii. I didn’t continue on my high paying career path because I wanted to stay home and raise my family. Erik and I chose to end a military career just 7 years shy of “retirement” because it wasn’t helping us build the kind of life we wanted for our family. I did finally get a tatoo 4 or 5 years ago. And moving to Africa last year was definitely out of the “norm”.
Why does “normal” seem so appealing to so many of us? Why do we spend so many of our days trying to fit in? As teenagers, as moms, as children, as employees, as neighbors, as friends … we just seem to go for beige. A dear friend that I love to run with used to say there are times when it seems best to “shut up, show up, and wear beige”. She is right but the problem comes when we change out our whole wardrobe and beige is ALL we ever wear.
One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss: “Stop trying to fit in when you are born to stand out.”
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” – John 15:19
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
We have had lots of discussions about this lately because at some point there will be a transition back to life off the mission field. How do we find the abnormal in the normal? How do we find neon moments in our beige routine? People must work. Children must be schooled. Laundry must be done. Dental cleanings must happen. Groceries must be bought. But what if an “abnormal” life can still happen in our everyday “normal” routine?
If I had to describe Jesus, I would say that hands down he loves people. He is relational. He cares about our hearts more than our “to do” lists. He is interested in the details of our lives. He is creative. He likes unique. He likes variety. He likes it when we find the extraordinary in the ordinary.
“God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
“And even the hairs on your head are numbered.” – Matthew 10:30
“We are his workmanship.” – Ephesians 2:10
So … if we are to be like Jesus, to “love like Jesus” then relationships matter. Every encounter we have with another person is God ordained. Sometimes we are the teacher and sometimes we are the student. Put another way, every person put in my day is put there to teach me something or maybe God wants to use me to teach them something.
Whoa … now when we look at people and life like that, then our normal suddenly becomes abnormal but only when we stop living life in a coma. Routine isn’t bad unless it becomes just that … routine.
The grocery store, the post office, the carpool line, the office, the soccer field, the running trail, everything is an opportunity to experience Jesus and share His love with others.
These days, I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to live life in a bubble. I don’t ever want to watch a football game, pick out fabric for a chair, or buy broccoli without looking at who or what God has in store for me each day. I don’t want to ignore the dreams He has birthed in me. I don’t want to ignore the desires of my heart. I don’t want to get so comfortable in beige that I miss my neon moments.
The truth is beige doesn’t look good on most of us. I can’t think of one thing that we have done outside of the “norm” that we have regretted. In fact, we probably wish we could change more of our “beige” moments than anything else.
Being authentic and living an intentional life means that we figure out what neon looks like on us and we wear it proudly.
In 2015, I want to fit in less. I want to walk in complete faith even when it seems abnormal. I want to embrace each day as a gift and each person in my life as a blessing. I want to love more and worry less. I want to face everything with anticipation and watch God connect the dots.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Maybe, just maybe, 2015 is the year that we all decide to wear a little more neon. My guess is that it will look pretty good on us too.
Happy New Year from South Africa with love,
– Melissa Hall
For more updates from Erik & Melissa, follow them on their website www.halls4hope.com