It is a seemingly inevitable part of human nature to neglect the positive things we are surrounded with and to dwell on apparent obstacles to our own happiness.
We college students aren’t immune to this sort of pessimistic outlook on life. I consistently find myself wondering, “What if things were different?” or “If only that were improved.” The folly in this sort of thinking is that we think these objects will, in fact, bring happiness when in all reality we will always find something that isn’t quite up to our standards. It is a never-ending cycle of non-satisfaction and restlessness.
Why am I writing an opinion piece about the human condition? What sort of relevance does this have to students at Malone?
Well, for one, I think many of us take our education here at Malone for granted (myself included). We are so preoccupied dwelling on things that aren’t that we fail to appreciate the things that are.
We complain about the cafeteria food when much time, preparation, and creativity went into making those meals. We bicker about a tough and distant professor when there are so many here concerned about our academic and spiritual well-being. We dread going to chapel so much that our hearts and our minds are turned off to the potentially life-altering message. We grumble about the rules so frequently that we don’t have time to think that maybe, just maybe, they are in place to preserve the best kind of community: Christ-centered.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why are we never satisfied? This is a loaded question, but ultimately, it’s because many of us consistently stray away from the sure hope and foundation found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In order to find genuine joy and true life we need to be anchored in the eternal so we aren’t swayed by the external. Saint Augustine captures the essence of this struggle when he says, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”
This transformation isn’t instantaneous—it takes work and conscious effort in order to change our hearts and our minds. But eventually, with help from above, we will be able to see the things of this world in a new, enlightened way.
With all that being said, I want to express thanks and acknowledge the blessings that I have experienced in my time here at Malone.
First, I am forever thankful for professors and faculty members that are invested in my life. I cannot emphasize this enough. There are so many people here at Malone from the Residence Life staff to the president himself who are completely willing to encourage, guide, and ultimately pour into my life, and I know many other students feel the same.
Secondly, I love being in an environment where my faith is challenged but also supported. I have been challenged both intellectually and spiritually, but there was never a time where I felt alone in those difficulties.
Finally, I enjoy being able to, in a single walk across campus, have multiple fruitful and meaningful conversations with faculty and other students. There is something unique about being at a place where you have the opportunity to get to know many on an intimate and personal level.
So let’s start here. Let’s start appreciating our institution during some of the most transformative years of our lives. Let’s be thankful for the opportunities presented us, the guidance given us, and the relationships that constantly bless us. Let’s focus on the many things Malone University does well so that those things that irritated us before seem miniscule in comparison to the blessings we experience. Because, when it’s all said and done, we aren’t going to remember visitation hours or chapel credits, we will remember all the great people who helped form us intellectually, socially, and spiritually.
Mike Terry is a sophomore philosophy and theology major.