The virtue of patience

We seem to be in a hurry these days. Many of us rush from place to place on highways where speed limits have been raised. We pop food into microwave ovens and it is ready in minutes or, in some cases, seconds. All the while, things don't seem to be happening fast enough. Some of us are annoyed when traffic doesn't move quickly, or fidget by the microwave oven, as if willing it to cook even faster.

It seems one quality we need more of is patience, which is described as a virtue. A light-hearted story is told about a man whose great vice was impatience. Recognizing his problem, he prayed that he might be granted patience. Ending his petition, he pleaded, "And please give it to me now!"One dictionary defines patience as "the state, quality, or fact of being patient; specifically the will or ability to wait or endure without complaint, steadiness, endurance, or perseverance in performing a task."

Apparently, patience is developed over time. Young children, to whom the only understanding of time seems to be "now," have little patience. When they want to eat, they want to eat now. When they want a parent's attention, they want it now.

With practice, we develop the virtue of patience. As does the maturing child, we realize there are some good and pleasant things in life we must wait for a little while longer. One reward for this kind of patience is peace of mind.

If we are impatient, we might easily overextend ourselves or make decisions that will prove to be detrimental. Financially, impatience can lead us to make purchases we can't afford. Morally and emotionally, it might prompt us to engage in actions that can harm us. Spiritually, impatience can rob us of faith if we tire while waiting for the Lord's promises to be fulfilled.

Concerning one responsibility, Hyrum Smith, the Prophet's brother, was counseled to " . . . be patient until you shall accomplish it." (D&C 11:19.) Patience is necessary for accomplishing certain tasks. If we combine patience with prayer, faith, works and perseverence, there is little that we cannot accomplish - eventually.

President Lorenzo Snow said: "We must exert ourselves until our duties become natural. An individual, undertaking to learn to play upon a flute, at first finds a difficulty in making the notes; and in order to play a tune correctly there is a great deal of diligence and patience required. He has to go on, to pause, to turn back and commence afresh. But after a time he is enabled, through a great deal of exertions, to master that tune. When called upon to play that tune afterwards, there is no necessity for remembering where to place the fingers, but he plays it naturally. It was not natural at the first; there had to be a great deal of patience and labour, before it became natural to go through with the tune." (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, pp. 45-46.)

Employing patience requires work - mental and physical, and often spiritual. Patience is put to its noblest use when coupled with repentance to bring us into full harmony with the Lord and His teachings. Focusing our attention and energies upon improving our lives, and then planning and working for the growth that inevitably will come with sincere desire and effort, are essential elements in the process of true repentance.

Many blessings or rewards accompany patience. It enables young people to plan and prepare for missions years before they are old enough to serve. It permits them to complete the necessary schooling to prepare for a chosen vocation or lifestyle. It allows them to take the time needed to select an eternal companion and to prepare for temple marriage.

No one needs, or deserves, our patience more than our loved ones - whether they be family members or friends. A parent or older person needs patience to teach a young child many things, from how to tie a shoelace to how to ride a bicycle to how to swim, or how to drive a car. That same patience is required to teach principles of spirituality, morality, good citizenship, and to develop intellectually. Friendships also are fostered and nurtured through many of these same exhibitions of patience.

Even in our Church activities, we need to call upon the virtue of patience. What missionary, sincerely desiring to share the gospel message, hasn't become discouraged because no one seems to be listening? What teacher of youth has not wondered if anything is getting across? Sometimes, the results of our efforts are not seen until years later.

We can take heart from the counsel the Lord has given to ". . . be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (D&C 64:33.)

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed