Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I want patience NOW!!!

I am trying to understand patience right now, because I feel I need more of it. I've been kind of impatient with myself and a few others lately, so this post is for my own good.

Patience is defined as the ability to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Now let's see what Paul says about patience:
We glory in tribulations . . . knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope. (Romans 5:3-4.)
I think it is very interesting that Paul says that tribulation “worketh” patience. I see that word as meaning two different things—1) that it means tribulation brings about patience and 2) that tribulation exercises patience.

I remember my Mom telling me something when I was growing up that I found kind of fearsome, but which I now know perfectly fits in with this. She told me, “When I felt I needed to become more patient, I prayed for it, and Heavenly Father gave me experiences that required that I be more patient.” It is easy to think this is kind of spiritually masochistic. Why would anyone want to pray for patience knowing that they would be given experiences that would stretch them and try their patience more? I think that in order to do this we really have to have a strong trust and faith in our Heavenly Father that He doesn’t want us to fail, especially when we have prayed to acquire a godly character trait. I feel that He will not give us something unfamiliar that is beyond our capacity, but something that we know about. Also, when we pray sincerely for something like patience, if afterward we are alert to notice when we need to be patient, then we become more involved and prepared for those stretching experiences and we can rejoice in them (“Look! I see how Heavenly Father answered my prayer for patience! He heard me! He loves me!”), even glorying in our tribulations, as Paul so provocatively suggested in the above scripture.

One very practical way that we need to cultivate patience is in financial matters. It takes patience to save for what we want, and impatience to have it now leads us into debt. How much of our nation’s current financial crisis could have been averted if people had been willing to save for at least a down payment? And how much could have been averted if people had decided to not buy something unless they could pay cash for it? (Sounds revolutionary, huh?) My husband and I would really like to find a nice house to buy. We've been renting for four years and we rented through the bubble. Now that prices are coming down we need even more patience so that we can study the options and make a wise choice, one that is not driven by the excitement of dropping prices. We looked at the end of 2008 and we decided to wait more. But it's difficult, especially when our real estate agent continues to send us emails about houses for sale.

As Paul wrote in the scripture above, patience brings experience, which brings hope. How does this happen? When our patience is tried and eventually is rewarded, we have gained positive experience with it (which is also a testimony of it), which encourages us to be patient in other similar situations. As a cub scout den leader, if I can be patient with my assistant and the boys and their parents as I explain to them their responsibilities, I eventually learn that my patience is rewarded when they improve. This gives me a reason to be more patient in other areas too. I gradually gain hope that my patience will yield better results than impatience. This is how patience leads to experience, and how experience leads to hope. As a writing tutor, I've learned that patient explanations work better than impatient ones. As a wife, I've learned that patient requests of my husband work better than impatient ones.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin wrote about how Christ is the perfect example of patience:
Though absolutely unyielding in adherence to the truth, he exemplified patience repeatedly during his mortal ministry. He was patient with his disciples, including the Twelve, despite their lack of faith and their slowness to recognize and understand his divine mission. He was patient with the multitudes as they pressed about him; with the woman taken in sin; with those who sought his healing power; and with little children. Finally, he remained patient through the sufferings of his mock trials and his crucifixion. (Finding Peace in Our Lives, “Patience, a Key to Happiness” chapter)
Are you brave enough to pray for patience?