What Is Normal?

Join us for a special Sunday morning worship service. High school youth have organized a well-rounded service, inspired by a button Reverend Elaine wears which quotes Dorothy Parker. The Children and Youth Choir will be debuting as well! During coffee hour, the youth will be available for socializing and this is a great opportunity to make connections across the ages. We really look forward to sharing our words, sense of humor, and spirits with you all.

SERMON

What is normal?  Should we all try to be normal? Is it possible for all of us to be normal?

In a world spinning with madness striving for normal seems to be a safe way to get through it, but what does that mean?

If I were to tell you how to be normal and you choose to follow my instructions then you will need to go home and dye your hair your favorite color, or your least favorite color, or whatever color happens to be cheapest when you go to the store. Then when we get back together next week here at church we will all be wearing jeans with holes in them, a shirt with some witty saying on it and singing Broadway show tunes, and everything would be great because we’d all finally be “normal”

What if we chose to be normal like my dad, we could wear jeans, a polo shirt and a zip up hoodie to every event we go to. Every single one. No matter how fancy or sophisticated it may be.

And if we were normal like my mom, each of you would carry yarn in your bags and you’d talk to every little kid you met, because that would be normal.

We could even be normal like my brother… Or maybe not him…

Look at your neighbor right now, they are here dressed as they normally would, which one of them is actually normal.

The point is, everyone – even in my own family – has their very own definition of “normal.”

Have you ever walked into a preschool room and saw a dinosaur driving a dump truck. We don’t rush in and tell that child to stop that, that isn’t normal, we embrace their creativity and their imagination. When do we stop doing that and why do we stop doing it? When do we start telling children and young people that now it is time to be normal?

We can all aspire to be like someone, me I want to be Neil de Grasse Tyson, does that mean the normal should be Neil de Grasse Tyson, no, although we would have less trouble getting environmental legislation passed if it were, it means that we each need to find our own normal. We can look to others to find our own normal but we can’t look at others and impose our own normal on them.  I really don’t want to see my dad with pink hair and ripped jeans.

Even in our everyday life, normalcy is affecting our perception of the world and the people around us. Thirty years ago, where my mom was growing up, it was completely normal to drive to school with a gun in the backseat of your car. Nobody would question you. Today, you see school shootings happen practically once a week, because our normal has changed, and guns pose a threat in a way they never have before.

Our divides right now between race and gender, white supremacy, and black lives matter, they all start with wanting our normal to be everyone’s normal.  Rather than trying to find the right words to line us all up, maybe the words to embrace all our normals is the way we need to go

On March 14, students across the nation will stand up and walk out of their classes. We are going to walk out to say we have had enough of the normal way the government is doing things and we want a new normal. A normal that finds better ways to protect us against gun violence.

Adults are saying it isn’t normal for young people to have to protest for their own safety. Yes it is. Young people have been banding together for a long time simply to say “your normal is no longer acceptable”. Adults like the phrase “in my day” and one day we will say it as well. It simply means that at one time normal was different. Instead of telling us though that your normal was better, tell us what your normal was, and listen when we tell you what our normal is.

Think about what normal is to you.  Now think about if that was the normal for the world. Why do you want that to be the normal? What do you really want to change by making that the normal? Do you want everyone to get along? Do you want to make your life easier? We will never make everyone get along, instead of fighting that battle, why don’t we find a way to accept the differences and the different normals.

What if what we are right now, in our ripped jeans, our polo shirts, our suits, or whatever it is you happen to have on, sitting here together and accepting each other as we are? As normal. We can make it through this craziness by accepting each other and not trying to find lines to divide us or even lines to lump us into groups. We just need to understand that we are all normal, we all just define normal a little bit differently. And that’s what makes normalcy so amazing, because it follows no lines, and no guides. It’s one thing in our lives that is truly authentic.

Is it possible for all of us to be normal?  Yes. But you have to stop trying to be someone else’s normal and find out exactly how amazing your normal is.

It is so important to find your own normal and not try to conform yourself to someone else’s. Although you can be influenced by another person’s normal, find your own little flairs that you can add to make it specific to you. Find music that you enjoy listening to or clothing that you think suits you and you can feel comfortable wearing because in the end, clothes are just worn for public modesty or to keep you warm. You can follow trends if you want to but you should really follow only the ones that you actually like. For example, around September tube tops made their grand re-entrance at my school. I hate tube tops, like where are the straps? What even is this? I definitely did not hop on that trend and thankfully it is leaving almost as soon as it came. If you like tube tops, go ahead and wear them and rock them but only if you feel comfortable and actually like them.

The word “normal” is thrown around so often that it has lost its meaning so much that we just spent months planning a service about what it means and still don’t have one specific answer. We do however know that it is used to describe the cycles on dryers and dishwashers that don’t give the objects being cleaned any extra treatment or neglect them treatment. We also know that being a “normal height” for your age could be better described as “average height” and that people say that “normal bodies” are ones that don’t have physical deformities when in reality, everybody is normal, some are just more common than others. By replacing the word “normal” in our everyday vocabulary with more fitting adjectives, we could help people feel less pressured to want to change themselves because it is totally ok to be uncommon, it even makes you more interesting.

The media sends very misleading messages to the people who are listening to it because you see people advocating to “be yourself” and “be unique” and then go on to make fun of people who do exactly what they were saying. You see this overall message of “do what makes you happy, oh, except for that.” the only time I view that as acceptable is if the thing that makes the person happy is a threat to themselves or other people.

If something makes someone else happy please don’t judge them negatively for it if it is not harmful. I realized something last year that really resonated with me and changed the way I view the people around me. I realized that it is not fair to judge people for things that cannot change. You can’t change if something makes you happy, the only thing that you can change is if you act on it.