Perspective

Driving to work today I heard a report about the victims of the recent Philippine typhoon. The story was about the role of the Catholic churches in the recovery and the lives of the victims.

One of the women was talking about her trust in God. The typhoon reminded her that we can’t rely on our own powers, that what we can accomplish is nothing compared to God’s help through prayers. Another woman spoke about how material things are secondary in light of still being alive after such a disaster.

The priest was telling the congregation to take strength through the suffering of Jesus.

This is a phrase that has never been accessible to me. I understand accepting ones suffering because the other choices are railing against the elements or fate or allowing your circumstances to make you bitter. What I don’t understand is the minimizing of ones personal suffering because it cannot compare to Jesus’s suffering on the cross for all mankind.

Someone will always have it worse than you and Jesus is the ultimate trump card.

“Offer it up to Jesus” was one of my mother’s go to phrases when faced with a complaint from any of her children. Along with “Some people don’t have any legs.” Same difference – I wonder if she had criteria for when a complaint qualified for one or the other?

The problem I have with “offering it up” is that it seems to demand that you stop feeling what you are feeling because someone else has it worse. Maybe that is my interpretation.

I think you can always find perspective when you consider the scope of your problems or suffering (the first world problems meme covers this handily), but its okay to own feeling bad for a minute before you get perspective.

I recently read an article on Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter actor) who mentioned that whenever he would complain his father would say “You’re not down in the mines.” Granted there is a lot to say for knowing that your worst day will be better than some folks best day, but everyone is entitled to grouse once in a while.

Suck it up, do what you need to do, don’t wallow in self-pity. I agree with and use this philosophy with my daughter, but I find it more powerful if there is a moment of comfort where her father or I acknowledge “Yeah, its sucks, wish it weren’t so.”

I hope the Filipino’s find a moment of comfort when the priest reminds them of Jesus’s suffering. It is a deeply Catholic country. I hope they find grace and God’s love in the aftermath of the typhoon and the ongoing national disaster.

And for what its worth, I wish it weren’t so.

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