Joy or Suffering

By Mary Rose Lunde
No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends “get them.” It’s no surprise that thousands of Americans choose rather to go to an impartial therapist than to confide in their friends, or even to turn to religious God(s) who they feel like are able to solve all of their problems simply because they are God.

I am not here to discredit anyone or to make a point, I’m here to shift the attitude. We all have our demons; we all have our struggles where we suffer. There’s always that one relationship that could be better, always that one issue that could be adding to our stress levels that we wish was gone. No matter what, we won’t be satisfied, even if we were without any problems. There’s always something.

There is a beauty in joy, just as there is a beauty in suffering. We are so quick to judge everything as a potential problem that keeps us from a goal. How often do we overreact about misplacing something or messing up a single detail? Perhaps we need to think about the potential of things. We choose how to react; and maybe we should be choosing joy, instead of supposed suffering. I don’t discredit suffering, but we aren’t always the victims. Perhaps if we choose joy over the idea of suffering, we can choose kindness more often; and the world would have fewer problems. If anything, our lives would have fewer problems, because we are reminded of what we have, and what we should be celebrating.

One of my friends was recently diagnosed with a disease which gives her constant stomach pain. She has to go to the hospital bimonthly for infusions that only lessen her pain. Yet, when I went with her to the hospital, she smiled at me, and said something I’ll never forget. When I asked her how she was faring and if she was hurting, she said, “Yes, I may be suffering physically but that doesn’t mean that this illness can steal my joy.” She chose to stay hopeful, and to make the best of her situation. She chose joy.

As amazing as her response is, she still hasn’t been cured; and by medical diagnosis, probably never will be. I do believe that my friend carries the right idea, she will continue to stay joyful. And I hope that if she slips and falls into self-pity and discouraging thoughts, that she will lean on people that can lift her back up, and help her choose joy rather than suffering.

I often wonder why so many people get entrapped by suffering. And then I realize that I’m one of those people. Choosing joy is something that is continuous. We have to take our thoughts captive, and keep choosing joy despite our circumstances. Suffering may be present, but what we do in the presence of suffering is the key. It’s our choice. Let’s make it count!

Mary Rose Lunde is a senior at Virginia Tech graduating with a double major in Literature/Language and Creative Writing. Lunde tries to find joy even in the simplest things.