• Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

Remembering Normal


“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal; sing a song from a grateful heart; 

sing and never forget all the good He has done.


Psalm 103:2 (The Voice)


Have you ever noticed how easy it is to forget what “normal” looks like when life gets hard? Maybe not at first, but when we’re under a dark cloud for weeks or months it can become easy to forget that life was ever good or normal.


And so we forget, not intentionally, but we do.


To forget the good or normal things in life is to forget all that God has done for us. It is forgetting that hope is real – a good and beautiful thing to tightly and tenaciously hold onto.


I was reminded of this fact a few weeks ago while walking across the prison yard where I do group therapy with female inmates for a re-entry program.


After making it through security checkpoints, I finally exited the massive steel doors leading to the open yard. It’s at least 120 yards (roughly the length of a football field) to get from the door to the housing unit where I work. There are concrete pathways that lead to each housing unit and I walk the same one each time. That day I took the same route as always, but it was a much different walk than usual.


I exited the door, careful to assess my surroundings, and began my walk. Training has taught me to walk confidently, head-up, making eye contact, smiling at the inmates, and speaking when warranted. This confidence is what keeps you safe. Walking quickly, head down, and making no eye contact screams, “I’m afraid,” and makes you a potential target. So with head up and a smile, I went.


Something was noticeably off as soon as I started walking. About a quarter of the way to my destination I saw two or three women looking around curiously, but for what? I couldn’t tell what was getting their attention.


Hmmm. Odd, but gotta keep moving.


A little further, now about halfway, I notice the same thing with a couple of other women. Their heads were noticeably shifting to the right and left, looking up and around. Still, I had no idea what was getting their attention.


Finally, as I came close to my housing unit I saw a woman walking toward me doing the same as the others, looking around curiously. However, she quickly figured out what was getting her attention. Smiling, she made eye contact with me, and then with a huge grin, looked at my feet and said, “Oh, I cannot WAIT to wear high heels again. I sure do love that sound!”


Oh… I immediately understood. The sound of something familiar but absent from their current situation was echoing to these women through the simple act of me walking to my destination. It caught them off guard and reminded them of what it was like to be free and feel “normal.”


Over the past several days, every time I’ve walked on concrete in high heel shoes I could not help but think of that woman and her smile as she let me witness the power of remembering. At that moment, she was transported out of the dark prison and exuded hope of what life would possibly once again look like.


Thinking about her, I am reminded that we all need that kind hope in various seasons. Hope that reminds us in a whisper, a smell, or even a sound, that life will be good again, maybe even normal. Through the Psalmist, God teaches us how.


“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal; sing a song from a grateful heart; sing and never forget all the good He has done.Psalm 103:2 (The Voice)


When we are in the middle of a dark season it can be easy to forget what “normal” is like. Until a reminder comes, we are encouraged to praise God and remember all the good he has done for us so far.


Sometimes, at least in my experience, praising God can be really, really difficult in dark seasons. It’s not a reflection of our faith but our humanness and what the darkness does to our souls. It is in those moments, I believe with all my heart, God sends us the “sound of high heels” to encourage and remind us of what we may have forgotten – that he sees and knows what we need to maintain hope.


This week my “sound” came through an email at the perfect time, reminding me of something only God knew I needed to hear. So I will continue to praise him and proclaim, “Yes, God is indeed watching, listening, and making sure his children have what they need at just the right time. Praise the name of Jesus!”





For Your Reflection…


What “normal” do you need to remember? What “sound of high heels” is he sending to let you know he sees you and knows what your heart needs?

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The mission of ECHOES OF HOPE is to move individuals toward emotional and spiritual health through the knowledge that God is speaking in our world today, offering hope through His son, Jesus Christ.

 

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