In the face of suffering, choose to be joyful

Chena Laritza

When dealing with obstacles in my life, I have always viewed them as an inconvenience. To me, those issues felt like a setback or a failure. 

It wasn’t until I attended Benedictine Encounter at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., that my perspective changed. That weekend, I was introduced to two women who, while facing death, managed to praise God through their actions. 

Blessed Chiara Luce Badano demonstrated her love for God through her acts of kindness. Growing up, she loved to help the elderly and would visit sick friends so they wouldn’t feel left out. When she was 17 years old, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. Right away, she entrusted her life and her suffering to God. She chose not to receive medication because it made her feel sleepy, and she wanted to be conscious enough to know what was happening to her. Even while sick, she brought joy to the lives of others by writing letters and attending Focolare meetings, a movement intended to promote ecumenical and global unity. 

“These amazing women made me realize that I needed to change how I reacted to my obstacles in life. Instead of viewing them as a nuisance or a bother, I should view them as opportunities.”

Before passing away, she planned her funeral to resemble a wedding and wanted it not to be filled with tears but with dancing. Near the end of her life, she said, “I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that, I can always love.” 

Like Blessed Chiara Badano, Rosemary Thérèse Donnelly Robinson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at 17. For two and a half years, she went through hospital trips, chemotherapy and a lot more. But through all of this, she was still a missionary of Jesus. She made people smile and laugh and touched the hearts of so many. But after a long and hard battle, she moved “onto her next grand adventure.”  

Their stories opened my eyes because instead of being angry or frustrated, they accepted God’s plan for their future. When the pain became too strong, Blessed Chiara Luce Badano would say, “For you, Jesus, … if you want it, I want it too!” 

In the face of suffering, they chose to smile and be joyful. While I was writing this column, I went to Wednesday Mass, where the sermon Father Nelson Rubio talked about childlike innocence, and it made me think about Blessed Chiara Badano and Rosemary Robinson. Their love for God was so pure that they accepted their suffering and offered it up to God. 

These amazing women made me realize that I needed to change how I reacted to my obstacles in life. Instead of viewing them as a nuisance or a bother, I should view them as opportunities. 

Not long after I came to this realization, I experienced a minor obstacle in my life. I’ve just entered my freshman year in college. All summer long, I had been waiting for my dorm assignment. My school only has one dorm that has single-sex floors, and that is what I had been praying for. However, when I received my assignment, I saw that I did not get that dorm. Instead, I was put in a co-ed dorm. That dorm also has 190 single rooms and only 28 doubles, so I was one of the few that was assigned a roommate. 

My first reaction to this was anger mixed with frustration. This was not what I wanted, and I wasn’t too happy about that. But as I started praying, I calmed down and came to my senses. I realized that the situation wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be. It wasn’t ideal, and my parents were not very happy that there would be boys on my floor, but I knew it was an opportunity. 

At the very least, I will meet different kinds of people this way. I’m still kind of nervous about this situation, but I know I’ll be able to handle it. But on the bright side, my dorm has air conditioning, which is not something every dorm has. 

Blessed Chiara Luce Badano and Rosemary Thérèse Donnelly Robinson helped me learn to deal with adversities. Before learning about them, my reaction to my dorm situation would have been a lot more chaotic. They have inspired me to be more joyful despite the hardships, and I am so grateful that I had the chance to learn about their lives.

Laritza Chena, a member of St. James Church in Searcy, is a freshman at Columbia University in New York City.

Laritza Chena

Youth Faith writer Laritza Chena is a member of St. James Church in Searcy.

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