The Art of Adjusting to the New Normal

This has been a frustrating week for me (David) as I’m wrestling with the details of opening a bank account in Italy and also trying to get the correct documents for us to be able to get our Italian driver’s licenses.   Not only do I now have a better idea what it must be like for foreigners who come to the USA and start a new life, but I also can feel their annoyance in not having things work the way that they understand from their home culture.   All of this quickly boils to the surface of my heart the desire to complain…

Nonetheless, our new normal in Italy is filled with countless blessings, opportunities, and joys.   It offers untold adventures of discovery, a cornucopia of new relationships to build, and rich vistas of faith as we trust the Lord in the midst of it all.   However, coupled with the blessings are the bereavements that change brings.   I don’t think that I’m going out on a limb to say that most of us deal better with the blessings than the bereavements of change!   Why is it that our flesh so militantly resists change?   Perhaps it isn’t change itself that the flesh resists but actually changing itself…

Yes, we’re adjusting to the new normal;  but  I’m not sure that I can wrap my mind around or describe in a few paragraphs all that it entails.   However, some wise colleagues of ours have challenged us to view the perceived delays, frustrations, and hardships of our adopted culture in light of the fact that they are the new normal.   Thus, the Italian way of doing things isn’t bad; it’s just different.   This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, self-delusional, mind-over-matter scheme to convince ourselves that certain circumstances are better than they actually are.   In fact, it’s a much healthier embrace-it-for-what-it-is approach that calls us to receive–read embrace–all of the circumstances of our new environment as a part of the life that our Sovereign God has called us to in Italy.

For those of you who might be worried that we’re tattooing on fake smiles for times when we’re not feeling it–please don’t!   On the contrary, we’re choosing to see the thrilling things and frustrating things alike as provision–grace gifts–from the Lord as fodder for His furnace to make us more like the Son.   Instead of complaining and comparing, we desire to adjust and learn to appreciate.   Instead of fixating on the wait, we desire to reclaim the time.   Have we arrived?   Not hardly.   However, the Spirit daily molds us into greater lovers of this land and its people.   He daily develops our heart to make disciples among the 99% of modern Italians who are living outside the grace and glory of a personal relationship by faith with the Living God through Jesus Christ.

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