Monday, September 21, 2009

Normality

Recently I've been involved in a couple of discussions on the subject of normal behaviour.

Truth be told I have NEVER really considered myself normal. I developed this attitude towards myself (and indeed others), during my formative years. I think I was first inspired by observing an American spoof commercial where two men are standing in a busy street waiting to get opinions on the benefits of their product from passers-by; they claim to want to find out what the ordinary person on the street has to say about their product. As they are talking, the camera zooms out and we see that everyone in the street is betraying a streak of eccentricity. Some are walking funny, some are dressed funny, some are using strange modes of transport... but ALL of them are unique... and the ad men confess glibly that "they are still waiting for an ordinary person to come along".

Yes it's a silly advert, but it made a strong impression on me as a child... something evidenced by the fact I can still recall it to this very day.

You see to me, there is no such thing as an ordinary person. In fact, so convinced am I of this notion, that I find it distasteful when people try to claim the centre ground of normality for themselves.

I accept that there is a scope of what we would call "normal behaviour" in society... but I believe that is primarily about laying the ground rules for what is acceptable in terms of how we treat one another.

If you've read my older posts, you will know that I have always been wary of following the crowd. If I feel something is hyped too much and I'm not already into it, chances are I will be resistant to the idea of taking exposing myself to it.

It is not that I consider friendly encouragement and inspiration from peers as entirely a bad thing... i just think it is very important that we discover things for ourselves.

The things we care about, the causes, doctrines and principles we believe in... all of these we must claim as our own. We cannot walk along a path that others dictate - along that road lies ruin.

So rather than seeing the vast majority of the human collective as "normal" or "ordinary", I much prefer to look at each individual and celebrate them as extraordinary.

Nobody occupies the same point in space and time as you, nobody will have quite the same effect on the people around you, as you will. Nobody else has been given the words you have been given to say, nobody else will feel quite the same about the people around you, as you will.

You are unique... and you should not hide this gift, nor shun the blessings and yes, even responsibilities that come with it. Nobody could fill your shoes.

You ARE unique... but before you let that go to your head... just remember, so is everybody else!

It's not Christmas yet, so I'll refrain from quoting It's A Wonderful Life. However the sentiments expressed in that film are absolutely true.

Another good illustration is the following clip from Dead Poet's Society:

I don't want to slavishly conform to the expectations set on me by others... in some cases , I want to walk in the way that is right for me. Sometimes that will mean I agree with the expectations laid before me, other times it means I'll throw them utterly out the window.

To conclude though, to live an extraordinary life, I believe there is one person and one person only, who is worthy of emulation - Jesus Christ:

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:1-11
I really do believe that sums up the debate perfectly. If we are to truly serve Christ as unique individuals, we should not overly covet a popular position at the very centre of society. If everyone stayed near the middle, how would anyone ever be rescued from the edges?

So wherever you are in the diverse spectrum of human characteristics and interests, may God bless you an continue to strengthen you in your unique and extraordinary ministry to the other people around you in your everyday life.

N

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