Some fight to redefine the norm and gain acceptance while others fight to redefine themselves and be accepted. We like to think it’s okay to be different from person to person because each person is unique, but the truth is we all want to be normal, whatever that means.
Normalcy does not consist of any absolutes.
To define what the norm is can be difficult, but we try. Through official statistics or personal observation we collect data on human behaviour, physical features and emotional responses and create a range that we consider to be normal actions, activities and appearance based on this snapshot in time. What about the next snapshot in time, how different will it be? What if one of the statistics in a category changes, how does that influence the rest? What about those on the outside of the norm, are they just a different normal comprised of those who don’t fit the majority?
Life experience can alter an individual. Group experiences can change a culture or a subculture. World events can influence all that become aware of what has taken place. The evolution of a people group, not Darwin’s ideas but God’s prefect design that allows us to adapt, changes the physical norm to meet the environment in which they must survive. The constant barrage of images and ideals in the media affects our perception of what we should look like, act like and how we should react. There really is no absolute when it comes to being normal.
So you want to be normal do you?
I am not normal, at least that is what I have been told. Keeping this in mind you may want to take my suggestions with a grain of salt. Being normal requires you to decide whether you want to fit the category or you want to expand the category to fit you. I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying which approach you are going to take. If you take too long, the definition of normal will change and you will have worked in vain. Even if you manage to keep up with the trends you will eventually have to accept that the trends for your group are not the same as the trends, for other groups and you will realize that the norm you thought was universal is actually tied to your limited exposure to life.
You could, however, change your approach from fitting in to standing out. This also has its own set of problems. Those who stand out often shift the norm of society so that it now includes them. Once they become the norm, they no longer are different than the crowd and therefore they are no longer what they would consider normal. It is a tough life trying to be normal no matter what approach you take, trust me I have tried.
Following Christ and being normal; is it really possible?
The church and the Christian community as a whole has been experimenting with this idea. The biggest problem we face is the world already has a set of norms that evolve independent of any moral and/or faith based influence from the Christian community. The only way to make following Christ normal is to change who we are following. There is nothing wrong with trying to meet the world on their turf. It is important to present our message in terms that are easy to understand by those who do not consider this “Jesus fellow” and His followers normal. It is one thing to find ways to express the gospel which is not part of the norm to those who are part of the norm, it is a totally different thing to try to make it the norm.
If you can’t stand not being part of the norm, maybe Christ following isn’t for you.
I know this is harsh but I am saying it to myself as much as I am saying it to you. I want so bad to fit in. I want so bad to be normal. The only thing that keeps me from being normal is that my Saviour isn’t normal and I want to be like Him. It’s not that I like being on the outside looking in, as a matter of fact I have often had to backtrack because I have let my want to fit in take over my need to follow Christ. Crossing that line is so easy because the draw of the world is so strong. From as far back as I can remember I wanted to have friends, I wanted to be liked and I wanted to be normal. From as far back as I can remember, every time I put following Christ over what I wanted, I lost some friends, some people didn’t like me and I wasn’t seen as normal. If you are like me it isn’t easy to replace the person that is accepted by the world with the person that God wants me to be because it isn’t normal.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Matthew 16:26 (NIV)