Monday, August 2, 2010

More on Patience

Lynn and I were on the same wavelength since I was thinking of exactly the same thing she posted on. This stage of my life is a bit perplexing to me (okay, it’s downright frustrating), and I try to remind myself daily that the things I can’t do shouldn’t keep me from doing the things I can do. It’s trying to move beyond a passive waiting sort of patience to an active, doing all I can patience.

Years ago I wanted something very badly and couldn’t do anything but wait. What I wanted was guaranteed, but I had to wait (okay, it was my mission—my bishop wanted me to wait until I was almost 21 before I put in my papers.) By chance I was able to watch Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s BYU fireside on patience and it helped.

Some time later, I had what I wanted and found out it was much for difficult than I had imagined. (Yes, it was my mission.) Elder Maxwell’s talk on patience appeared in the Ensign, and once again it helped.

Over the years I have read and reread his talk and when Elder Uchdorf spoke in conference, as Lynn mentioned in her blog, once again, I needed to hear what was said. It reminded me of things I had sort of learned from Elder Maxwell’s talk but needed to learn again and keep working on. Since it was so many years ago, I thought I’d pass along some of his words.

First (this is for Lynn’s benefit), Elder Maxwell said he spoke of patience because of his own “clear and continuing need to develop” this attribute. So, Lynn, you’re in excellent company! I can imagine Elder Maxwell, and other fantastic people, feeling frustrated with technology and with people who are just dawdling along, unable to get their act together.

Patience, he says, is “not only a companion of faith but is also a friend to free agency. Inside our impatience there is sometimes an ugly reality: We are plainly irritated and inconvenienced by the need to make allowance for the free agency of others.” Our lives, as well as our individual differences and preferences, are so enmeshed with each other that the only way to preserve our free agency is to be patient and longsuffering with each other.

Patience is reverence, a willingness to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down impatiently waiting for Him to see things our way. When we are impatient, we are neither reverential nor reflective because we are too aware of our own desires and needs.

“Patience helps us to use, rather than to protest, these seeming flat periods of life, becoming filled with quiet wonder over the past and with anticipation for that which may lie ahead, instead of demeaning the particular flatness through which we may be passing at the time….Life cannot be made up all of kettledrums and crashing cymbals. There must be some flutes and violins.”

Patience allows us to ponder and to discern the things that matter most from the things that matter least. It also helps us to realize that while we may be ready to move on, having had enough of a particular learning experience, our continued presence is often needed as a part of the learning environment of others. Patience is thus connected with love and humility, both qualities that we are here on earth to learn.

I liked school. I liked it so much I considered myself a member of that group of “eternal students.” Well, to quote another talk from general conference, by Russell Osguthorpe, teaching and learning are not optional activities in our Father’s kingdom. We’re here to learn and help others learn. The fact that our lessons seems to be getting more difficult shouldn’t surprise us; it just means our education is progressing and we’re growing, according to His plan.

1 comment:

Lynn Gardner said...

I SO needed to hear this. I'm going to have go back and pull that one up and print it, though I'm sure your summary was right on target. Thanks for sharing! It is certainly one very hard lesson to learn and one virtue that may be the most difficult to master.