New and normal are words that do not belong together. But that is precisely what step eight is all about, establishing a new normal. If we were grieving the loss of a loved one, we might resist the idea of a new normal. If we were processing a betrayal, we might prefer “things be like they were before the infidelity.” But with anxiety-depression, the tendency is often more cynicism and doubt than resistance. Depression-anxiety made “normal” feel painful for so long we wonder if “normal” can be good. Even if you are optimistic about this new normal, a new normal is scary. It is unknown. It sounds so permanent. It soon will be the part of your life that occurs whether you’re intentional about shaping it or not. But if you are intimidated by this step, do not let that convince you that you have not completed the prior steps adequately. The phrase “new normal” seems to imply more intentionality than it actually requires. You do not need a spreadsheet with seven columns and twenty-four rows to itemize and color-code. As you live wisely, a new-healthy normal will happen. This chapter will be devoted to identifying the defining marks of this new normal so you can be comforted as this occurs. The chapter will also include two other sections. First, we will look at how this new normal assimilates into your life story. This will be a place for you to summarize what you learned and how you have grown over the course of this study. You will seek to combine the narrative you built in steps four through six with the practices you implemented in steps seven. Second, guidance will be provided to help you think through how to prepare to transition from your current formal helping relationship (i.e., support group, counseling relationship, or mentor relationship) into general small group ministry of your church for continued encouragement and growth. You are about to enter a new season of transition: from healing to living.
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