It was most unexpected. My old college friend, Lydia, wrote a hilarious Facebook post about a conversation with a coworker on the topic of the spider who lived on Lydia's kitchen windowsill. Apparently this spider set up housekeeping there, and in the interest of encouraging the spider to stay so she and her family could observe its habits, Lydia began catching flies whenever she saw the opportunity, in order to feed them to her spider. In the process of doing so one day at work, Lydia found herself explaining her flycatching behavior to the coworker, and discovered that observing the friend's response was almost as fascinating as observing the spider.
In a subsequent post there was more dialogue, and right there in the middle of it (when trying to change the subject), Lydia dared to say in writing what most of us think nobody realizes about us.
Me (trying to be normal): ...
THAT is where I truly burst out laughing.
But isn't it what we are prone to think we want, to be normal, to fit in, to fly under the radar? We might be happy to distinguish ourselves in some ways that might be considered successful, but we sure don't want to stand out because we are somehow different. What untold energy is wasted by people trying to be normal, while at the same time trying to dare to be extraordinary?
Here is what we all need to realize: We are all broken.
Every one of us.
We like to think it's the people who have less than we have--materially, relationally, emotionally, socially, medically--who are broken. And we who convince ourselves we have achieved (an appearance of) "normal" are responsible for helping fix the broken.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the churches. He admonishes the believers at one church because they think they are so self-sufficient, not realizing that they are "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked". Yet another church he encourages with the words, "I know your afflictions and your poverty (this just after reminding them of his own death and resurrection--he KNOWS from personal experience!)--yet you are rich!"
It sounds so comfortable, so safe to be normal. It seems like the way to be an insider instead of an outsider. But it's only an endless demand to keep up appearances and hide the truth.
When you are broken enough to know you have no hope of ever being normal, then you finally have hope of being free. Free to heal. And free to be an agent of healing.
This morning at church we heard music and personal stories from the Teen Challenge Choir. It's an international faith based treatment program for people battling chemical addictions. We host them every year, and it is incredibly moving to hear their stories of brokenness and the road to healing. They all know what it is to let go of the fallacy of "normal", in exchange for the hope of freedom. Today, though, the best part was hearing them sing this song.
It's so important to know our identity. It's not the names on the name tags. But it's not "Normal" either. The truth lies somewhere else entirely. I hope you know what your real name is.