As I conclude three posts to explain some changes in my life, I beg your indulgence for today's extra words.
normal : adj 1 conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected
There is no such thing as a normal life. We and our lives are unique, extraordinary, and filled with the unexpected.
When events in life turn our routines upside down, we adjust to what we call "the new normal"—as if life will now become "usual, typical, expected."
For most of my Christian walk, I expected change and even sought it, because I understood that becoming more like Jesus meant continual change away from my B.C. life. Aside from some "still learning the ropes" resistance during early years, I came to roll with the punches, accepting that whatever life threw at me was allowed by God, and His plans are always good.
Then life started throwing some serious punches. Slander. Persecution. Oppression. Personal attack from people who matter. Relationship losses. Injuries to myself and my loved ones.
I knew the right response was a balance between asking for accountability and extending grace and forgiveness. I expected things to turn out okay if I did these things. But my expectations weren't met, while the punches came harder and faster.
By spring of 2010, depression dogged me. My health suffered. I overcame the darkest depression in December 2010-January 2011 through purposeful Bible-reading and prayer (though depression still licks at my heels).
I thought I'd adjusted to stresses of "the new normal."
Then life threw its hardest punches yet. I can't say I've suffered more than anyone else. Cancer (and its debilitating pain) snuffed out the life of my bright sister-in-law and left behind her three young children. Christians are badly tortured for their faith in greater numbers than ever before. Atrocities prevail across the globe and in my neighborhood. Who am I to complain?
My precious sister reminded me that it never works to compare our circumstances to the good or bad of others. No matter how much someone else suffers, it doesn't mitigate our own suffering.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NKJV)
The punches, for now, have mostly relented. My physical health has yet to bounce back. My cardiologist is working on ways to ease discomfort, but my characteristic stamina and drive remain at a fraction of what they were three years ago. (Good thing they started out so high, LOL!) My new reality is that I can accomplish less in a day than to what I'm accustomed.
Something had to go. The time is fitting for God to close the door to all entailed with a publishing deal for my biblical fiction. A book contract seemed within reach—my skill is polished, my writing clean, my story well-crafted, my publishing agent highly regarded. But I write real-life-messy and carve out the Bible's not-so-neat solutions. An editor dangling a book contract requested I change my style. Readers want escape and entertainment, after all. I apologetically offered, "I'm not [well-known author]." Editor replied, "Why wouldn't you want to be?"
The blow of the question didn't hurt nearly as hard as everything else I've been through. In hindsight, I see that the sting necessarily stiffened my spine.
I've written plenty about the need to die to Self for the name of Jesus Christ, and (please, Lord!) may I never refuse that invitation. But I must also be true to the person God calls me to be.
So after four-plus years with a publishing agent, I am exiting publishing circles—at least for now. Temptation suggests that my battle-weary soul go one step further and withdraw from all public activity to simply rest.
But online ministry is a door the Lord holds firmly open. I once posted and tweeted daily, and now struggle to post to my blog once or twice a week, to dialogue with the readers I dearly love, to make it over to Twitter at all.
It is sufficient.
By God's grace and strength, I will continue extolling Him and edifying His body, whether online or wherever I step, however not-normal life gets, for as long as I draw breath.
: : :
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I
may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
~ St. Francis of Assisi
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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