“I gave up my pursuit of normal a long time ago,” writes worship leader and Christian recording artist Laura Story in her new book, So Long, Normal: Living and Loving the Free Fall of Faith. Laura continues, “Surprisingly, I can say this without shame or regret.”
Not only was she terrible at trying to be normal, she confesses, but somewhere along the way she realized that “normal” was a vapor: “Whenever it appeared within reach, I was unable to grasp it.” The unattainability of it made her realize that if she did achieve some semblance of normal, she might actually be bending low, settling for something less. “But what if God has designed me not to bend down low but to stretch up and reach for the stars?” she asks. “Not that normal is bad, but why should you or I settle for normal when we’ve been created for something far greater?”
This is the foundational question that Story, who has written award-winning songs such as “Blessings” (which won a Grammy), “O Love of God” (which won a Dove Award), and Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable,” (which was featured on his Dove Award-winning Album, Arriving) winsomely and transparently explores in So Long, Normal—her third book and a follow-up to her recent popular titles, When God Doesn’t Fix It and I Give Up.
As she says in her new book, the problem is that normal appears to offer us something solid we can stand on. Normal promises to be steady. Yet people end up choosing “the bondage of normal over the promise of better things. Staying in normal for the sake of normal may be shortchanging the very purpose of your life!” What’s more, it never holds up when times get tough. Normal ultimately disappoints every person on the planet, because life never happens according to plan.
“Each of us has something in our lives that has forced us to let go of whatever normalcy we envisioned,” empathizes Story. “Every one of us has endured uninvited change.” She and her husband, Martin, came face-to-face with this as newlyweds, when he—a former college athlete—was diagnosed with a disabling brain tumor that upended all their expectations for their future. The couple recognizes now that this was God’s way of calling them to step out in faith, leaving normal behind and saying hello instead to the unshakable life, vision, and mission that he had purposed for both of them. It’s a necessary, two-part process that Story walks readers through in these pages.
As she explains, the only way anyone can know for sure whether they are holding the things they cherish in their rightful place is through the sifting process. This is how God teaches his children to stop looking to worldly attachments for their security and satisfaction. This is how he helps them stop anchoring their hearts to their performance, or linking their identity to the successes and failures of their loved ones. “If we can believe that God is writing a greater story,” encourages this wife and working mother of four, “we may be able to move ahead without definitive answers to life’s pains, confident that in kindness and mercy, he is exposing any faulty foundation so that we will cling instead to what cannot be shaken: his forever-faithfulness.”
Laura Story’s deftly written book combines strong biblical insights like these with amazingly practical wisdom, her signature humor, and many anecdotes and illustrations aimed at discovering:
- Why we crave normalcy
- How our longing for normal affects our day-to-day lives
- Why “big faith” isn’t the solution
- The five things every individual needs to say “so long” to
- Ways to avoid spiritual identity theft
- What it means to live “a tethered life”
- How to find true community
- Three great comforts and three gifts to steady Christians on their journey
The book also features candid interviews with people Story knows who have faced significant challenges to normal and seen God display his greatness by growing them in unexpected ways. And So Long, Normal concludes with a unique, engaging “It’s Your Turn” section, where readers can answer the interview questions for themselves and consider the ways God may be working that maybe they haven’t recognized before.
“Here is the good news of this book as a whole,” Story offers. “When life becomes shaky, we do not have to be shaken. We can be steadfast in a world that’s beyond our control.” By gaining a vision for what it looks like and feels like to be tethered to God, readers of every age and circumstance can find the faith to step out and greet the unknown with the hope and expectation that only God makes possible.
For those who are ready and willing to say “So long, normal,” they’ll be able to let go of the things they once leaned on that weren’t sturdy enough to support them. And they’ll discover what author Laura Story is learning through her own journey: that with God, what feels like a free fall isn’t really a free fall, but the life of faith being lived out day by day.
Story has also released a new single to coincide with the book release “Hello Unknown.” She wrote both the book and the song in the midst of the global pandemic. She shares, “The song, ‘Hello Unknown’ was birthed in those Covid pandemic days when our world was under strict quarantine and the country was plagued with social and political unrest, and everyone that I knew was anxious over everything. But the truth about change is this: in the shifting or even collapsing of everything familiar in life, we don’t have to wring our hands and fear.” Both the book and the single encourage audiences to embrace change as a part of life and find security in their faith over the familiar so that they can step into the glorious adventure God invites them to embark upon.
So Long, Normal: Living and Loving the Free Fall of Faith is available now everywhere books are sold. Learn more at solongnormal.com.
“Change, upheaval, and tough transitions. They’re God’s favorite way of shaking you up and out of what’s ‘normal.’ Yes, it’s hard, but it’s necessary if we are to grow in grace. My friend Laura Story speaks to this beautifully and powerfully in her wonderful new book, So Long, Normal, and I give her work a double thumbs-up! Read it and you’ll understand why saying goodbye to ‘normal’ is your passport to a faith-filled life of surprise and adventure.”
––Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
“Laura has been a friend of mine for quite a while. This is a beautiful story of love and hope and Jesus. As you read these pages you are going to laugh, you are going to cry, and best of all, you are going to think.”
––Bob Goff, New York Times best-selling author and speaker
“In this encouraging guide, Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It), a Grammy Award–winning musician and worship leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, invites Christian women to say ‘goodbye to normal and hello to unshakeable faith.’ She shares biblical stories, personal experiences, and anecdotes from friends that illustrate the value of letting go of safe expectations and learning to trust God’s plan . . . Story’s uplifting challenge will resonate with Christians who enjoy the work of Lysa TerKeurst. (July)”