The beginning of school is an exciting time because it is a reset or a new beginning. It can also be scary because there are so many unknowns. We often don’t know if our teachers will be nice, if we will have class with our friends, or where we will sit in the cafeteria. In many ways, this is what makes the new school year exciting, but this is also what makes the new school year terrifying.
- Begin by talking about the beginning of the school year, are you excited or nervous to begin school? What do you look forward to and what do you dread?
- Are there any funny stories, as parents, you could share about the first day of school? Did you look forward to school or did you dread going back?
This school year especially has a lot of dreadful expectations. COVID-19 has added unusual stress to a normally peaceful summer vacation, and it’s also going to make the school year even more exhausting. The idea of being forced to wear a mask through school seems far-fetched and unrealistic. Yet, it’s the expectation we currently face. I have said this a lot and will say it again, if back in 2018 you time traveled to 2020 and saw everyone walking around in mask you would probably be slightly freaked out and confused. It’s so different from the “normal” we are used to.
And maybe that’s the scariest (or at least strangest) part of this new school year. We are all forced to create a new normal. We had to start a new normal in March when summer vacation started! (Okay, what a weird statement – summer vacation started in March – just take a minute and soak that in!!) I remember some of our students in the youth group were very worried about being tired of summer and running out of things to do. But when you ask them now, they are not looking forward to going back to school because a new normal has been created and now just like in March it’s time to reset and start over again, with a new routine that is unlike anything we have ever experienced before.
Just take a minute and discuss as a family the things that have changed in 2020. See if you can make a list of all the things starting all the way back in March that have caused us to generate a new normal time and time again.
It’s crazy to think about how school shut down and our families were forced to develop new routines, we began to avoid grocery stores and restaurants were no longer an option. Even as a church we stopped meeting on Sundays forcing us to create a new Sunday morning normal. Even then, when we were blessed with the opportunity to reopen, everyone had to create a new, new normal. Normal in 2020 has not been normal!
We thrive in the normal, and when normal changes we find ourselves struggling, we get stressed, our stomachs fill with anxiety, and sometimes it causes us to get more irritable. So, it’s not surprising that this school year will put a lot of pressure on all of us, especially as we strive to create, once again, a new normal.
This is certainly an unavoidable part of life. My father points this out often to me and my brother, as he reminds us, “the only constant in life is change.” We can quickly recognize this as a true statement; it doesn’t take years of observation to notice the world is always changing. Just consider a little kid you know: think about how their life has changed as you have watched them grow and develop. Their life has been changing since day one, and so has ours, simply from physical growth. Not only have we all experienced changes physically, we have also experienced an overwhelming amount of situational change. We change schools; we change sports; our friends change. Even now, I am facing a huge transition as I find myself in a very exciting (yet challenging) time of life where my normal gets completely transformed as Emily and I combine our normals into one new normal. It’s just a beautiful, yet challenging, part of life. Change is inevitable; the creation of new normals are inevitable. No one (not even Ironman) can do anything to stop the inevitable new normals from forming in our lives.
However, Scripture points to things that will never change! Scripture identifies truths that Christians can be confident in no matter what we face and no matter how things change. Once we identify what we can truly rely on, no matter the changes that we face we can be confident and courageous as we begin to form our new normal.
Time in God’s Word:
Check out these Bible verses and discuss as a family what God reveals as unchanging:
- Psalm 102:25-28
- Matthew 16:13-20
Thoughts on Psalm 102:25-28
The psalmist describes the world as God’s creation that is growing old and fading away while God remains the same. God is never-changing: He is eternal! He is going to last no matter what. COVID-19 cannot change God, nor can any other pandemic. God is constant! Pause and look at Exodus 3:13-15; do you notice who God says He is? He says that He is the, “I AM who I AM,” but He goes on to say that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – these men were long gone, they were dead – but God is alive. He was alive for the Israelites and now He is alive for us. God is never changing – God is everlasting! The Hebrews writer spoke of Jesus in the same light, in Hebrews 13:8. Jesus is the same every day.
This means, no matter what happens we can always rely on God! No matter what change comes our way, we can rely on God! No matter how many times we create a new normal, God can be the constant in our life.
Time in God’s Word:
Since God never changes, think about how these verses describe God and how these verses can provide us comfort in times of change, knowing God never changes. Discuss what jumps out at you:
- Philippians 4:4-9
- 1 Peter 5:6-11
- 1 Timothy 2:3-6
- Hebrews 1:1-4
- Hebrews 4:14-16
Thoughts on Matthew 16:13-20:
The fact that God never changes is amazing! We can rely on Him to be our ROCK in hard and shifty times. God knows when we face hardships and shifts in normality that we will need His steadiness and a support system. This is why God has given us His church – to serve as a constant source of encouragement and support so that when things get crazy, we have God’s people around us to hold us and support us. God created His church – His children to be a constant in our life. I think this is why Jesus told His disciples, that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). They weren’t going to have to worry because they knew the church was going to survive – the church would be there for them. We don’t have to worry because we know the church is always going to be there to support and strengthen us, as well. His church is a constant in our life. Even when we were meeting virtually, we were still the church. We were still encouraging and supporting one another; we never stopped loving one another, and our appreciation for one another grew even greater – proving how great and constant God’s church is and always will be.
Time in God’s Word:
Since God’s church never changes, think about how these verses describe the church and how these verses can provide us comfort in times of change, knowing God’s church will last forever. Discuss what jumps out at you:
- Galatians 6:1-2
- Acts 2:42-47
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-20; 26
- 1 Corinthians 15:33
2020 has truly been a wild year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down much, but God is faithful! God is never changing, and He has given us His church to be steady and stable – to support us and help us navigate this crazy world. I’d like to encourage you to pray that God will help you and your family rely on Him and His church in this crazy time as you begin to create a new normal once again! And my prayer for you is that you will experience peace like a river at the beginning of this new school year!
Peace like a river,
DIY: Remembering Essential Habits When Creating a New Normal (DIY: Bible Class Part 2)