Normal is as normal does
The computer-internet-social media experience for my generation and those younger has certainly helped maintain relationships with friends, classmates and teammates. One of my contacts is an old high school football teammate who is 69 years of age and I’m 70. My friend Chuck has lived an extraordinary life of teaching, coaching, writing and being a great father and husband to a lady he says is his joy.
We played together on an undefeated (28-game win streak) football team in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. In the early sixties, school desegregation had already been implemented several years earlier, but racism was far from being eliminated or is it today. God chose to make Chuck and me different colors in His many flavors of created children. Chuck was a grade below me in school and in our football connection, through the encouragement of others, Chuck and I had a wrestling match one Saturday in the gym to see who was toughest. It turns out that we both won the wrestling match, for this was the beginning of a relationship of love and respect that continues today. The icing on the cake of this relationship is a joint love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I must say that Chuck is a much greater stimulator of conversation in the social media than I am. About the time I think he has run out of questions and comments, here he comes again with more thought provoking stuff that reaches out to all of his many friends, students, classmates and teammates. Discussions about his spirituality are frequent and usually elicit many comments and questions from others.
Recently, Chuck began a long discussion that started like this: “Are you normal? I am not. I have always had a cross section of heroes and friends. Most people my age, and I am just 69, their heroes are from their ethnic background. My heroes cover every racial and ethnic group and age category. I have often wondered why I am so strange and different.” This was just the tip of the iceberg of his comments, but it got me thinking about just what is normal. It made me think of a quote from Maya Angelou. She said, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
I remember reading a book entitled Same Kind of Different As Me that dispelled the idea of being normal. The awkward friendship between a white man and a black man that begins over coffee eventually evolves into the two sharing their lives with one another, even going on road trips together. Denver Moore is a poor, black man who is bitter and penniless that ends up graciously loving those who hate him. Ron Hall, a self-absorbed affluent successful art dealer ends up serving at a local homeless shelter and inviting the poor into his home. This true story of friendship calls us to evaluate our lives with love and compassion. In the parallel stories of these two men we see completely different men, both from the South, both searching for life’s meaning in different ways.
There is no “Normal” in this life we live. Each of us is created by God with our one of a kind set of attributes. We should use them to seek God’s Will for us in this world. Each result is different not normal.
We are informed as to how God uses our unique differences in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 12:12-25, which says in part:– “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”