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What is normal?

Pastor Joseph Yoo talks about the joy and the concerns of daily living with a son on the autism spectrum.

Rethink Church

There was a period of time when I wanted to be “normal.”

During the days of living in Columbia, South Carolina “normal” was being blonde with blue eyes. “Normal” was asking my mom for “white people” lunch after classmates roasted me hard for the Korean lunch my mom packed. “Normal” was praying to God when I was about 10 to turn me into a white kid so that I could be… normal.

I’ve grown out of the desire to be “normal.” Mainly because what is “normal”? It’s basically an idea of what is acceptable to the majority of the society/community you reside in.


Normal is boring.
Normal is overrated.

Though the desire for me to be “normal” — to fit in — are gone, there are sparse moments when I desire the “normal” for my son, who is on the autism spectrum.

I worry about his future. Like, how will his peers treat him when he’s in middle school (because middle schoolers arrive from the depths of hell)? How will he do in life, in general? Will he make friends? Will he be able to live somewhat independently? How will he do after we’re long and gone from this world?

If he was “normal”, I’d still have these concerns but they wouldn’t be as… intense.

In all honesty, there are even a few moments where I wish he was normal for my sake. Maybe this parenting thing would be slightly easier… But every time these unnecessary thoughts creep into my mind, God shows me something through my son to remind me of how silly my thoughts are and just how beautiful of a person my son is.

I normally don’t eat breakfast. But one morning, I decided to pour myself a bowl of cereal and join N, my son, for breakfast. When I sat at the table next to him with my bowl, N just about flipped. He started flapping his arms so excitedly and intensely that I felt that he could take flight.

“I’m so excited you eat cereal with me!” he kept repeating.

The joy that was emanating from him… It was 7 in the morning, no coffee in my system yet, and yet I couldn’t help but smile. Joy is truly contagious — even if you’re not a morning person. I sat thinking just how beautiful of a moment this was — because if he was “normal” I probably wouldn’t have gotten this kind of joyous reaction.

The biggest lesson I learn from my son is to find joy in everything, particularly the little things. He’s genuinely a joy-filled child. And I hope he remains a joy-filled adult.

The other lesson I learn from him, time and time again, is that normal is truly overrated. There’s no such thing as normal.

Just be you, because you’re beautiful, wonderful, and deeply loved.


~Joseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves as an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church Pearland. Find more of his writings at josephyoo.com. For more inspirational stories from Rethink Church, click here.

Last Updated on November 1, 2023

The Michigan Conference