Living Outside the Mold

Own a house on your own piece of land. Plant deep roots. Two cars. A steady income. You know. Be normal. I used to crave that. Can we just follow a normal young couple’s path, please?

But that has not been my life. That has not been our lives. None of those things are true about us. We have never owned (and are very happy about that, by the way).  We have not planted deep roots in any one location. We only have one car. A part-time job that doesn’t even exist in the summer would hardly qualify as a steady income.

Normal? Definitely not!

Beautiful? In every possible way.

Sometimes God calls us to live differently. To live outside the mold. It is nothing dramatic. We have not left everything and moved to a third-world country. Many others have. We have not sacrificed anything great. The only thing we have sacrificed is normal.

But what is normal anyway?

Our normal is taking the path that God has laid out for us. Normal is making for ourselves the life that we believe God has for us. Most of the time, normal means we don’t know what is next. And that’s okay.

God has only said ‘Follow Me.’ The dream of owning a home and having deep roots is not wrong, but it does not have to be for everyone. It is okay if it is not your normal.

It may mean a move. We know what that is like! It may mean a job change to give you liberty to do what you really believe God wants you to. It may be as simple as using your time differently. But don’t hold back because it is not normal. You may simply be realizing that your normal is different.

I don’t crave normal anymore, because I have realized that my life is normal. And I am loving it.

Is your normal different than the normal of society, your community, or church family?


  1. Love this.

  2. Kristin says:

    Good post. I can totally relate. :)

  3. Andrea Cavanaugh says:

    Jeff and I have discussed this, most recently just the other night! The area I’ve felt it most is the area of children and wanting to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. If my life were more “normal” like the Christian women I’m surrounded by, I would have a couple toddlers by now and be staying at home raising them and being a housewife. Those are good things. I would like those things. And I don’t think it’s wrong to desire those blessings. But the Lord (and Jeff!) have been faithful to remind me that just because many of the women around me who are my age (and younger) are experiencing a stage of life that I once thought would be my “normal” too by this time, it does not mean that the path the Lord has laid out for me is second-best or Plan B until I get what I want (even if what I want is a good gift from God). I have also wondered whether I will feel this tension in the future if we end up having only one or two children in our family. In the circles we’re in, bigger is better as far as family size goes (I feel like the subculture in a subculture!). :-) I still struggle with this at times, but thankfully I’ve also come to experience more freedom in trusting the Lord to direct our steps. And even though there are things I might change if given the power, I also love our life together that the Lord has given us.

    • Andrea – I found your comment very encouraging. From your words, I am guessing that we are in similar situations. It is nice to know sometimes that are other people walking the same road, even if you never see them face to face. I have found peace in viewing each day as a gift from God, filled with His best for me.

      • Johanna says:

        This is why I love comments…it adds so much to the conversation. Thank you both for adding to the discussion. So helpful.

    • Johanna says:

      Andrea, you have such a wonderful perspective. Thank you. So encouraging. Praying. :)

  4. Amen, Johanna! And the answer to your question is “yes” :-) By the way, I love the way you think…or rather, the way the Spirit leads you to think :-) Praise God for His goodness!

  5. I hope this wont be too long! How timely for me to receive this encouragement! We lived in a tiny little apartment for three years managing the complex with two little ones and a husband who worked full time, all so that we could pay off our debt before owning a home. Last September was the “end” of that and we bought our humble dream home. I was ready to plant deeply and “rest” here. In the past two weeks the Lord has laid on my husbands heart to drop everything and pursue an eduction to become a pastor. It goes against everything we have worked toward or wanted. We never stopped to asked God before we bought our house “what is Your plan for us?” So, we are going to be putting our home on the market! I can honestly say that I have lived in what was a small version of hell for us in the apartments managing and in our humble american dream with the home with the jetted tub and three gas fireplaces, BUT none of it matters if we aren’t in God’s will for our lives. We may even go back into property management! He will sustain us!

    • Johanna says:

      April, what an encouraging comment! Thanks for sharing. We were in your shoes (minus the selling of a house) just last year, so I completely understand. We are now in the very unique stage of seminary life. Please keep me posted on your journey. I am excited about what God will do for and through your family!

  6. Definitely a different normal for us! The possibility of never “settling down” because of the type of job market my husband is in; moving may be a way of life for us; having only one child (so far) because that is what the Lord has determined; even the fact that we want to get out of, and stay out of debt…the list could go on. We have spent these first years of marriage (moving 4 times in 4 1/2 years!) learning that being in God’s will for us right now is the best place to be; He guides us each step of the way and takes care of us in every circumstance.

    • Johanna says:

      Eileen, I can completely relate! Sometimes I think I wonder where we’ll be in 10 years, and the reality is that I have absolutely NO idea so it is not worth even imagining! :)
      Living counter-culture can be hard, but it is so worth it. Hang in there…just know that there is someone (me!) who completely understands!

  7. Sounds like we have alot of similarities…we don’t own a home (and haven’t ever), we only have one car, and our life has turned out to be completely different than what we would have expected it to be (we’re months away from leaving for the mission field when God clearly changed our plans showing us HIS plan).

    I stopped trying to guess what’s next a long time ago but I must admit it’s easy to look around you and see people whose lives seem “normal”; thanks for this reminder to embrace the normal the Lord has given to me!

    • Johanna says:

      If I keep focused on the life God has given and the blessings of it I am much more at peace than if I start looking around at others normal. When it comes down to it, I really wouldn’t want their normal, but sometimes the “grass is greener” takes over. Sigh. A work in progress!

  8. Yes, yes, and yes! We’ve learned to love ‘our normal’ – and to love being flexible as a part of that. It opens up so many more doors of relating/ community for us.

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