Joy Over Comfort

Ella McFarland

A line from an entry from my journal from Ash Wednesday circa 2021 ——

“Comfort is good in modification. But a little too much comfort can be deadly.”

America is the definition of a country with a “culture of comfort.” But at what is the cost of comfort too much?

Is it worth using child labor to mine in the Congo to have the EV batteries that power our electric cars? Is it worth having inhumane factory conditions to live in the time of having the ease of an Amazon package come to your door within 24 hours of your desired product? Is it worth it to keep investing in the war machine that is barely keeping the empire’s financial system afloat to pay for our retirement funds at the cost of endless deadly pointless wars?

Comfort seems to trump all when it comes to decision-making here in America.

I think it’s because we Americans have this connection/association that comfort brings happiness and, ultimately, joy. Therefore comfort is good and should be obtained & maintained by whatever needs necessary.

Don’t overthink it. Don't question, wonder, or ponder. Just turn on the tv, the phone, or the screen, zone out, and put yourself on autopilot to be our perfect little consumer.

But as my notes from my Ash Wednesday mass states………joy does not equal comfort.

Rediscovering these words brings back so many vivid memories from a year and a half ago. Last February, I had just found out I was pregnant with my son. It was a moment where my level of comfort was shattered. I had to accept the reality of my unexpected pregnancy, my breakup, and of solo parenthood.

I remember saying that, “I am going to choose joy,” even though I was fighting back tears saying as I said those words aloud. Tears of fear of the unknown of motherhood, tears of grieving the loss of my past of girlhood.

Joy is born out of discomfort, the scary, the unknown. Joy is a choice. And not in some fake, superficial way that is inauthentic but in a way that provokes meaning and thoughtfulness, and purpose.

I choose to embrace life.

I choose to nurture the soul growing inside me.

I choose to surrender myself during the most intense parts of labor.

I choose to show up every day as a mom with a spirit of laughter, delight & triumph in the little moments.

I choose joy to exist in my life through the hard days, the unknown, the tears & I want to maintain a spirit of doing so.

Choosing joy over comfort means delayed gratification. It can come at an initial cost, a price. But then again, don’t the best things in life cost ya the most?

Patience, it takes. Patience to see the fruit of your “yes” to joy. Knowing it could take a lifetime or even several generations to fully manifest.

I think of Mother Mary- I think of her yes to God at the moment that mattered most, not just in her life, her son’s life, but the ripple effect it had on the world.

I imagine the immediate discomfort she may have felt saying to say “yes”. And how it probably wasn't an easy “yes” although the reading about it can sometimes feel like some simple swift “yes”. But when I really ponder her “yes,” the context is far from any comfort.

She said yes to being an unwed pregnant teenager, basically in a time where the punishment for that sort of thing was death. That fact alone, so much discomfort I can't even imagine. But then o, the joy of the birth of her son. Then, that moment of joy gets interrupted by the ups and downs of life. ——The mysteries of life.

Such as— the Visitation where the harsh words Simeon speaks at the temple, “The pain of a sword will thrust thru you" (foreshadowing the cross), the fleeing into Egypt to escape the danger from their homeland, losing her son in the crowded temple.

And then, finally, the worst of all, seeing her own innocent non-violent son brutally killed.

The collective discomfort (which is putting all that pain lightly) of all that is not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.

The only way one can justify that level of discomfort and real suffering is the joy, the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary, The Coronation of Mary ultimately, as Queen of Heaven & Earth. There to guide us through this crazy world called life to ultimate joy in the next.

That one day, this broken but ultimately beautiful creation —the earth that we call home and these people we love here can be saved. Not through the temporary fix of comfort but through perfect design of everlasting joy.