I am currently sitting in the Atlanta airport on my way back from Peru. It was my first time there and it was a wonderful experience. I had previously spoke at several conferences in Venezuela and had not given a lot of thought that there might be a difference in weather. In a conference call with the event organizers they informed me that it was winter in Lima and it was very cold. We were planning for sun and beaches, so that prompted me to take a look.

It turns out that it was winter. However, the temps forecasted were mid 70’s during the day and mid 60’s in the evening. That is not winter to me. That is almost perfect weather. Their summer starts in December and it’s 80 plus the other nine months of the year. It appeared that very cold and winter might actually be nice weather. We still packed short sleeves and a light jacket, but only for the cool of the evening. For us who had just come through the heat of summer and knew that our winter with freezing temps is just around the corner, the weather was almost perfect.

The surprising thing that we noticed upon arrival at the airport was that a lot of people were wearing huge winter coats. Many of the women were wearing scarves. Virtually everyone had a coat of some type or layers of clothes. It was almost 70 degrees. Why were people dressed like it was freezing?

As I watched this over the next few days, I observed a correlation with how people respond differently to life changes as they do changes in the weather. For some, the change seems like a relief, much like us coming from 90 degree temps to 70 degree temps. For others, situations look devastating. Why is it that people respond so differently to circumstances and changes? Why does everyone not respond the same? Here are a couple of reasons I concluded while observing local’s response to Peruvian weather and how it correlates with people’s response to life’s challenges.

It was very different from their normal

If 70 degrees is cold, the average temperatures are much higher. It is much like the beginning of cool fall mornings after a long hot summer. It comes as a shock to some people’s system. Though the cool mornings might be welcomed by some, it sends a desire to hibernate into others. Your body becomes accustomed to the warmer climates and doesn’t always adjust immediately during the first few days of fall. The people of Lima live in a fairly warm climate and 60 to 70 degrees seems abnormal.

Some situations come into our lives that are radically different than what we are used to. Our response may seem exaggerated or different from everyone one else’s. It may be a drastic change or dealing with a situation that we have never before encountered. It may be so different from what normal looks like to us that our response doesn’t seem normal as well. It could be a financial crisis for someone who has only experienced sufficiency. It may be disease to a person who has always been healthy. It could be divorce for someone who has only known strong family units. There are a lot of situations that can bring shock to a person’s life. Their response may not look like yours, but it may be because it is so different from their normal. We have to give people space and grace to respond to the abnormal problems of their life. We will all experience them.

For some it was fashion

I noticed this almost immediately in Peru that some of the winter dress was strictly for fashion. This was an opportunity for people to wear garments they may be only able to wear a few times a year; a chance to show-off their trendy winter wares. It was most obvious on our warmest day there. We saw people strutting around still in their fancy scarves and new coats. It was an opportunity to dress differently or to show that their fashion sense crossed seasons. Some did it to fit in while others did it to stand out. They may have been sweating in that wool coat and scarf in 70 degree weather, but they were cute.

The same is true with life change and challenges. Some people want everyone to know it and see it when they have something going on in their life. For some, it is their way to stand out; to get attention. We often call it drama. Some people publicize their problems to fit in while others do it to stand out. Either way, it is more about what the people around them think of the situation than what is happening to them. They like the attention of people who are not in the problem and the camaraderie of others who have similar problems. They are not necessarily looking to fix it because when this challenge is gone they will find a new one to show off and shout about. Their goal is not to improve the situation or fix the problem, they just enjoy the attention that comes with the turmoil.

Have you ever given much thought as to how you respond to the challenges of life? Are you a person who walks through trouble and no one really notices? Or are you a person who makes sure everyone knows when things are off kilter or out of sorts? Is your response based on the fact that this is just not normal for you, or do you just enjoy the attention that problems bring? There are probably several things we can take away from this. First, we could learn to be less flamboyant in our pain. Second, we could learn to give grace to those who may be experiencing something abnormal in their lives. Maybe I will write about those later…

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