What I’d like to know is this:  Are the things that happen to us all relative, or is each person’s difficulty significant?

The people close to me have been having a very difficult time lately.  I’d like to start by telling you how long this has been going on, but as I write this my internet provider is experiencing a network outage, so I can’t skim my emails to recall when the bad news started coming my way.

I think it has been happening for about 2 weeks…relatively speaking.

I don’t think Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of relativity contemplated the phrase “well, everything’s relative,” nor do I think he was trying to resolve the question of whether we should focus on absolute truth or be moral relativists.  Without the internet I also lack the tools to check my memory as to whether it was Newton or Einstein (or someone else) who developed the theory. Relatively speaking, it isn’t important to this article, I just threw it in to make you think I’m a Renaissance man.  I attended college in Texas, so perhaps that explains things.

About those pesky problems.  My parents run around with a couple who are their best friends, and the wife just passed away after languishing in a hospital for a few months.  At work, we have a beloved resident’s funeral today, one of our key managers is home sick, and a nurse who works for us is too dizzy to leave home after a car accident in which the other driver both caused the mishap and died at the scene.  Some missionaries we support in another country were recently holding a meeting and escaped from the hostile government officials seeking to arrest or beat them. I put in a place to park behind my house to keep our cars off the street and promptly backed into my neighbor’s fence, which didn’t make his day better.

And how has your week been?  Did you give the perfunctory answer that you are “fine”?

Relatively speaking, my week has been great!  I’ve reduced the dosage of blood pressure medication I take and have dropped 23 pounds.  The sun is shining and out my window I can see my clean truck that I washed over the weekend.  Those things just make my little heart happy.

Don’t you hate people who are cheery all the time?  I’m certainly not one of them. Just ask my wife.

A guy named __________ wrote that we need to keep perspective about our struggles.  He has a simple system. He asks himself, is it a lump in my oatmeal, a lump in my throat, or a lump in my chest?  

Ok, so when I think like him, I must grudgingly admit most of my problems are “first world problems,” or lumps in my oatmeal.  Does that exercise of relativity mean my problems and yours don’t matter?

If you’re reading this, chances are you are in my age range or older (I’m 57), and since you likely live in a highly educated area (Lawrence or Douglas County), you probably know when to use “your” and when to use “you’re.”  Apparently, the ability to make that distinction is more a sign of your age than your education, because some of our younger people don’t seem to know or care. Who’s teaching these kids, and whose children are they anyway?  My grammar checker in Word wanted a comma after “children” in that last sentence before I added “anyway” at the end, but that doesn’t make any sense.  I even found a typo on the label of my fish oil bottle, a supplement that if taken by the manufacturer apparently doesn’t cure ignorance or inattentiveness to detail.  Ah, I digress…again.

Back to the question at hand.  No, the relative insignificance of having numerous lumps in your oatmeal or only one in your throat do not make your problems unimportant or small.  Your feelings should be validated, and your struggles matter to God, and perhaps most importantly (in a relative sort of way), they matter to you.

What seems to make me relatively relevant is choosing to face my problems with a good-natured attitude.  Like coronavirus, quarantining my complaints keeps the population which is exposed to me much healthier and relatively more joyful.

Here’s hoping you have a relatively good day!

Scott Schultz, President, Morningstar Care Homes