As we reel with the news of the disaster in the Philipines on Friday, it’s hard not to feel lucky if you’re living anywhere else in the world. The images on our screens are too much for me to bear most of the time. The desire to help, to give, to pray is strong and once again we can feel overwhelmed with helplessness.
Tragedy on a large scale puts our lives into perspective, doesn’t it? Talking to my sister, who is off to a friends wedding this weekend with an unfavourable weather forecast, commented that the bride-to-be was not bothered by impending rain at her beach wedding, in light of what people in the Philipines are going through.
When it’s happening, most of us can see that our ‘problems’ aren’t really problems at all. Obviously, there are still very real problems we face like terminal illness, life changing, or taking, accidents, bankruptcy, relationship breakdowns. And it also doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to be effected by the issues we do face, even if they aren’t big problems like some of the ones I listed.
Yesterday, our boy let us know that he wouldn’t be home for Christmas this year due to work commitments. This will be the first time we have not all been together for Christmas – even when he was in the army, he still made it home. But nope, not this year.
To say we are disappointed would be an understatement. You may have gathered along the way that Christmas is a big deal to me. I love our little traditions, the fun, the laughter and getting to spoil that boy who we don’t get to see that often.
Yet, how can I really stay too disappointed for long? He’s safe, he’s happy, he loves his job so even having to work either side of the holiday isn’t a chore for him. So many families in the Philipines, and all over the world of course, are mourning the loss of a loved one; or don’t know if they are alive or dead; or are trying to keep their children alive and safe. It certainly tempers my motherly desire to have all the hens in the nest on Christmas morning.
Does it mean I’m not still upset? Does it mean we won’t miss him when handing out presents round the tree and setting the table for breakfast? Does it mean it won’t be quite the same?
Of course not. But it does mean I see it through a different lens. One that before the Philipines disaster I might not have seen through.
It’s a reality check, isn’t it?
And the reality is that disaster can befall any one of us, at any time, and keeping in perspective the things that happen that aren’t calamitous will better enable us to cope when life truly does hand us real problems.