I was standing at the soda fountain at the Circle K filling my fancy Stanley mug with some Diet Dr. Pepper, when a man walked up next to me. He grabbed a large foam cup, filled it with ice, then pushed the lever to fill it with Diet Mtn Dew. It came out clear – just carbonated water.
The man, noticing that there was no soda, dumped the contents of his cup into the grate and proceeded to spout a surprisingly aggressive string of profanities and f-bombs. My first thought was that maybe this guy was a Netflix screenwriter, but then, I just figured he just had a penchant for strong words and was very, vocally displeased.
He stomped off to the kid at the counter where he reported the outage with similar intensity. I was walking up behind him when the unfortunate clerk had the audacity to tell him, “Sorry, we are out of Diet Mtn Dew.”
Mr. Furious hurled few more unseemly words at the clerk, then dropped his empty cup on the floor and stomped out. I picked up the foam cup and stepped up the the counter. The clerk looked at me and I said, “I guess he really wanted some Diet Mtn Dew.” The clerk nervously chuckled and said, “Yeah, too bad there are only thirty other flavors to choose from.”
As Thomas Paine said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” We are at an interesting age where patience is needed more than ever, and there are so many opportunities to practice!
COVID caused us all to reevaluate how things work, and with what speed they work- if at all. Coming out of the pandemic, we are surrounded by supply chain issues that make it tough to get the things we might want in a timely fashion. Amazon delivery estimates change like the weather. Most fast food places have longer lines at the drive-thru as they struggle with staff shortages, restaurants have longer wait times.
In areas like Arizona, Utah, Texas and Idaho, the population is growing so much, and so quickly that getting services like medical, auto and home repair are scheduled not just days or weeks away, but sometimes months away.
What a great time to be alive – if you want to work on developing patience.
It isn’t just the day-to-day stuff that is calling out for increased patience. The big stuff requires more patience, too. Especially the big stuff. That is something I heard – repeatedly – during General Conference last weekend.
Sister Amy Wright spoke about he importance of waiting on the Lord, “Oftentimes we can find ourselves, like the lame beggar at the gate of the temple, patiently—or sometimes impatiently—“waiting upon the Lord.” Waiting to be healed physically or emotionally. Waiting for answers that penetrate the deepest part of our hearts. Waiting for a miracle.” (link)
Elder D. Todd Christofferson talked about how we sometimes get a little impatient with God, and the manner in which He doles out promised blessings, by using the wonderful metaphor of a “cosmic vending machine.”
“Some misunderstand the promises of God to mean that obedience to Him yields specific outcomes on a fixed schedule. They might think, “If I diligently serve a full-time mission, God will bless me with a happy marriage and children” or “If I refrain from doing schoolwork on the Sabbath, God will bless me with good grades” or “If I pay tithing, God will bless me with that job I’ve been wanting.” If life doesn’t fall out precisely this way or according to an expected timetable, they may feel betrayed by God. But things are not so mechanical in the divine economy. We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.” (link)
If patience is not one of our virtues, this can be frustrating, and can even challenge our faith.
Elder Christofferson does offer this promise: “God will indeed honor His covenants and promises to each of us. We need not worry about that…It is essential that we honor and obey His laws, but not every blessing predicated on obedience to law is shaped, designed, and timed according to our expectations. We do our best but must leave to Him the management of blessings, both temporal and spiritual.”
Sister Wright continued by offering, “Waiting upon the Lord can be a sacred place—a place of polishing and refining where we can come to know the Savior in a deeply personal way. Waiting upon the Lord may also be a place where we find ourselves asking, “O God, where art thou?”—a place where spiritual perseverance requires us to exercise faith in Christ by intentionally choosing Him again and again and again.”
As trite as it sounds, there is some wisdom in understanding that “God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.” Our angst, irritation, outbursts or tears won’t change the timetable. Sometimes we just have to let go and be… patient.
My mom had a sign above her desk that read, “God grant me patience – but hurry!” I think we’ve all been there. But how do we get more patience, rather than just day-to-day practicing? Mormon had some thoughts on this, and it all has to do with the Holy Ghost.
If we dig into the Book of Mormon, we can find reinforcement of this idea:
“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (Moroni 7:45)
There are days when I don’t suffer fools lightly, maybe not to the point where I am cursing at soda fountains, but I have my moments. Yet, charity suffereth long and is not easily provoked. What lack I yet? You got it: Charity.
I have referred to charity before as God’s Antihistamine, which can keep our irritations at bay, but it can also do more. Charity take those irritations away, coupled with the Spirit, it can give us an improved sense of patience, and tolerance for the things that might normally make us crazy.
What is the link between charity and the Holy Ghost? Charity is a gift of the Spirit that we can get by asking for in prayer. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love…”(Moroni 7:48)
This is a great season to develop patience and find more humility as we wait on the Lord. Rest assured that we will be given plenty of opportunities to flex these muscles, and not just at Circle K.
If we involve the gifts of the Spirit, and ask through prayer, we can be blessed with increased patience – but remember…
Sometimes we gotta wait for it.