That’s Normal and You’re Going to be Ok

That’s Normal and You’re Going to be Ok

This didn’t feel normal AT ALL, but when they offered the words ‘That’s normal and you’re going to be ok’, a flood of reassurance swept into me.

After they had told their story, the psychiatrist looked at them and, with quiet compassion, said these words.

For what you’ve been through, it’s normal to experience what you’re experiencing.

Relief flooded their dark hole. They weren’t alone.

Someone got the struggle they were in. Someone who could help them find a way through.

I never saw that psychiatrist again, but the sense of an invitation to an acceptance of human frailty has stuck with me.

It’s something I offer others.

  • This is normal for what you’ve been through
  • This is normal for what you’re going through
  • In fact, I would be more concerned if you weren’t experiencing these things
  • This may seem strange, but it’s healthy to feel the way you do and I want to help move through it
  • Normal is good
  • It’s normal for the body to respond that way.
  • I’m not minimising what is happening to you or maximising it. I want to normalise it.
  • Let’s work with ‘normal’ and try not to be something we’re not
  • Together we will get through it

A normal human

One of the benefits of reading or listening to the Bible every day is that you encounter people like ourselves living out normal everyday lives.

They face loss, grief, love, joy, abandonment, and fear. It’s all there.

There are no caped crusaders, marvel superheroes or magic wand wavers.

And that’s the point.

We can look harshly at some of those biblical characters and say we would never be like that. But in the same situation, under the same pressure, and with the same natural human thinking, we could well make the same choices and decisions.

Jesus spent most of his precious time with those who had really stuffed up in life and needed to be told ‘That’s normal, and you’re going to be ok.’

The most precious of friends is one who knows deeply what it’s like to face human fragility and then they bring us into a sense of connected security.

I think that is a gift that Jesus brings to his frightened followers.

Look, feel, eat – that’s normal

Post crucifixion, we step into little stories of a resurrected Jesus coming into the normal pendulum swings of human emotion.  

Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.”
They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death.

He continued with them,

“Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over.
Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me.
Touch me.
Look me over from head to toe.
A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.”

As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet.

They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.

He asked, “Do you have any food here?”

They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes. Luke 24:36-43

Jesus didn’t chastise them or tell them off for any supposed lack of faith or doubt.

Instead, he acknowledged the humanity of their responses and welcomed them to look, examine, feel, to even to feed him.

This is a normal response, but you’re going to be ok.

He was welcoming them to a new normal.

We doubt, we question, we want more facts and then Jesus eats our broiled fish.

That's Normal and You're Going to be Ok

Holding hands with normal

I want to hold hands with normal. To be so grounded in my humanity that I can give grace to my failings and fumblings and not harsh perfectionist judgment.

Justice is getting what we deserve
Mercy is not getting what we deserve
Grace is getting what we don’t deserve
Darrell Johnson

That’s the gift we need to offer others.

We offer our normalised crucifixion experiences of life.

‘Look me over. I’ve got the scars of normal.’

We ground the present experiences back to normality and offer a way forward.

Perhaps then others can forgive themselves and forgive those who have ‘trespassed against’ them.

We discover and share what ‘That’s normal’ humanity looks like.


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Quotes to consider

  • Self-acceptance always precedes genuine self-surrender and self-transformation. David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
  • Genuine self-knowledge begins by looking at God and noticing how God is looking at us. David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
  • The self that begins the spiritual journey is the self of our own creation, the self we thought ourselves to be. This is the self that dies on the journey. The self that arrives is the self that was loved into existence by Divine Love. This is the person we were destined from eternity to become—the I that is hidden in the “I AM.” David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
  • Any hope that you can know yourself without accepting the things about you that you wish were not true is an illusion. Reality must be embraced before it can be changed. Our knowing of ourselves will remain superficial until we are willing to accept ourselves as God accepts us—fully and unconditionally, just as we are. David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery

Questions to answer

  1. When has someone ‘normalised’ you into acceptance?
  2. Which of the David Benner quotes above has grabbed your attention the most? Why that one?
  3. How much do you think comparing yourself to others, or to what we think others are like, shift us away from our the norm? i.e. How does looking and focusing on the abnormal – cosmetically enhanced, air brushed, social media stars, living the way they do, create a disconnection and lack of acceptance of imperfect humanity?

Formation exercise

  • Journal your normal and finish each sentence with ‘And that’s normal’. e.g. when I get physically tired due to lots of work, I can often spiral down in my emotions and thought life – and that’s normal.

Further reading

Comparisonitis – The Compulsion to Compare Yourself

Blessed are the Peacemakers … with Themselves

Yes. A Christian can have a Mental Illness

Barry Pearman

Photo by Felicia Montenegro on Unsplash


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