Embracing the New Normal

I love this time of year!! I love the season of celebration that comes with Christmas and the New Year, the music, worship, family time and friends. All of this welcomed with joy in our hearts always, and especially now, as I am more aware of the precious gift of time. And yet, the holidays have become a challenge for me. They arrive bringing with them lots of “extras” for everyone. Extra’s that I once loved, hosting gatherings at my home, shopping for just the right gift for people I love, picking out the ornaments I would give to my grandchildren in their “pre-christmas” gift bags. I dearly miss the “extras” I could always do!

You may be like me, thinking you can control “good health” by eating wisely, exercising, supplements, prayers, etc. Until the unexpected happens and we are faced with the reality that while good habits certainly have benefits there simply are no guarantees on our health as we age. We may be quiet surprised by health issues!! I certainly was not expecting to have a stroke, or that my husband who was an avid cyclist and healthy eater would need open heart surgery just a few months after my stroke. We both thought to ourselves, “We have been so careful!!” We are surprised when “our plan” doesn’t work perfectly! We don’t desire any problems!

For me, this is not the story of disappointment or hope deferred, etc. It is more about accepting and embracing the realities that don’t turn out like WE planned!! I have come to know that it is all an unfolding story/script for each of us – and those we love! There are no guarantees in life, and A + B may = ? (not C).

I’ve come to think that perhaps, our desires need to change. Maybe they need to be held “hand in hand” with God’s gracious and wise plan for each of us.

At 78 my husband and I both have health issues. Recently his doctor told us, “Nothing is like it used to be anymore! Your body functions differently now. Don’t expect it to be like it was before!!” I have been told my damage from the stroke is permanent! I am very aware of my inability to always respond quickly in conversations, especially with several people speaking at once.

Most people find even in good health that as they age “normal” has new settings, knowing them and accepting them can both extend and improve your lifestyle!

We have realized that we have to choose to live into this new normal and embrace the goodness it brings, focusing only on what we have lost leaves us discouraged and shut down.

Our desire had been to keep going strong for many more years, I had planned on buying specially chosen Christmas ornaments for my great grandchildren’s pre-Christmas bags! This year I found myself considering what it looks like for my desires to be met in the midst of the new normal of my life. In years past much of the joy and celebrating was experienced in the midst of what I could do, speaking at holiday women’s events, writing personal notes on our Christmas cards, attending and hosting holiday gatherings, finding the perfect gifts for my family and traveling to be with them. Being able to do less was a gift I did not desire.

For years I have known and experienced the truth of “God with us”, but the changes in my health and my new normal have yielded a far deeper understanding of what it means that the object of our worship and celebration is always with me. I am finding that hope, purpose and opportunities to share the love of Christ continue for me and for us, they simply look different.

My desire is that the year ahead be filled with hope, purpose, and opportunities for us all!

Pat Sloan was born and raised in Arizona where she still lives today with her husband of 56 years, John. Together they were on staff with The Navigators for 30 years. She is a bible teacher, mentor, disciple maker, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. In 2016 she survived a stroke and now holds even more deeply that every minute is a gift. She loves caramel lattes, finding the perfect gift for those she loves, and spending time with her husband, family and dear friends.