Monday, December 29, 2008

To Be or Not to Be...Normal

Normality seems to be an idea lacking these days in circles of change, in places where people scheme and strive and struggle to bring about transformation and hope for our society and our cultures. No one seems to be looking to John and Jane Doe for advice on life; instead, it would seem as though we look to the next Mr or Mrs. Wow and Mr. or Mrs. Instant Change. This is a regular occurrence within human history; it is a rarity to seek to follow someone plain, someone simple. Someone normal.
Maybe a part of the problem is that history has erased the normality of those whom we call great; so, instead of seeing their normal lives, we see their lives of power, achievement, success, and transformation. And in seeing those aspects of their lives, we seek to emulate them in those ways. We seek to erase our own normality.
Yet, there seems to be a power to normality. To blending in with the crowd, to just being one of the guys (or girls). To relating to the masses as the masses instead of above, or in charge of, the masses. Granted, this is not always a blind following of the mob mindset though it is always an entering into the mob for the purpose of change and transformation.
I have been struggling with this for the past few months. I have been wrestling with what it means to simply be faithful. I think there is a relationship to this idea of normality and faithfulness. Most of the people that I know that are living lives of transformation and change are pretty normal, everyday John and Jane Does. Like the one they follow, they have no real desirable appearance. They're not wow people.
I'm not entirely convinced that Jesus was a wow person. I think that history has made him a wow person and erased his normality. Yet, Jesus of Nazareth was both normal and faithful. He was faithful to the Father's message of love, repentance, and kingdom living. And he suffered for it; obviously, he died for it. Yet, he didn't reap the fruit of joy until after he'd suffered - rejected by friends, whipped nearly to death, spat on, mocked, and, finally, crucified. On top of various attempts by authorities to stone him, throw him off of a cliff, etc.
I think that I'm just beginning to learn that there is hope in normality and faithfulness. To be honest, I'm getting a little sick of hearing the folks who want to be the next Mr. or Mrs. Wow. I want to meet the person(s) who are being faithful to kingdom values and love for neighbor in the simple doldrums of everyday life. I am finding that there is hope to fight the temptation to erase my own normality; there is still hope of escaping self-exaltation.
What if the very thing that we are searching for to transform the world is ingrained in our very nature? What if the simple fact of being neighbor, friend, brother, sister, oil change technician, water filtration system maintenance lady, or local librarian is that next big wow that we keep skipping over? What if the power of transformation is in the simple living of a faithful lifestyle of love for neighbor and kingdom of God living with the normal John and Jane Does next door?


Simon said...

How beautifully said, Dan. The call to normality, the spirituality of ordinariness ... sounds very much like the Incarnation to me. Thank you, and congratulations to your community on ten years!

billq said...

Simple faithfull people are the most inspiring people on the planet.But there is no news in them so we never here of them.But to be sorrounded by them makes my life much richer and deeper.


Jules said...

this brought me a breath of fresh air. A nice, big gasp of normal air.