Is Patience Really a Virtue?

I took my family to the cemetery of July 4th.  Now I know what you’re thinking – this guy has mixed up the holidays confusing Memorial Day with Independence Day.  Well, you’re kind of right.  You see, my father was born on July 4th so we have a tradition to visit his grave site on his birthday.  My dad served in the US Army and fought in Korea.  He always loved a parade, loved patriotic music and would get emotional about our freedoms and the flag.

So we arrived early in the morning and spread out a blanket and told stories about my mom and dad as we played patriotic music and had muffins and juice.  It’s a wonderful tradition and one we look forward to every year.

The cemetery is 170 years old and encompasses 250 acres.  There are over 120,000 persons buried there.  Needless to say, this cemetery is huge and covered with trees with rolling hills.

After our little morningside, we wanted to try and locate some of the gravestones of the early pioneers and church and civic leaders.  Due to the holiday, the sexton’s office was closed where they have a map so we relied on good old Google to find the grave sites.

I was once again amazed on how you can locate and learn just about anything through Google but I was also reminded just how impatient we’ve become in having access to a world full of information.  I became slightly irritated on a couple of occasions when after my “OK Google” command and following question, I did not receive an instantaneous answer.  What an imposition!  I had asked a question and had expected an immediate answer.

We have become so spoiled over the recent years with ever-increasing instant access to anything we want to know, we have lost the attribute of patience.  Remember the saying, “patience is a virtue”?  Most of us today don’t seem to be interested in that virtue.  “I want what I want now!” is more of what we see, hear and feel.

This lack of patience has kind of crept up on most of us.  Bit by bit as technology has improved and our lives in general have been benefited, our personalities have changed into creatures that in many cases need to detox from technology and just slow down and get back to the basics.

I have sensed a lot of stress (and felt some myself) when it comes to preparing and acquiring sufficient food storage for one’s family.  “We’ve got to get it all now before it’s too late”, seems to be the feeling many folks have.  Setting the appropriate pace and taking things in stride will definitely make the preparedness journey far more manageable.

I came across a wonderful article entitled “Feel Disconnected? Try Slowing Down” by Charlotte Larcabal that I want to share with you.  It addresses this issue perfectly.

“I love waiting,” said no one ever. But maybe they should.

If you rank standing in long lines right up there with spiders and snakes on your list of personal nightmares, you’re not alone.

Whether we’re standing in line, sitting in traffic, or watching for the bus, we hate waiting.

Luckily for us, wait times are truly becoming the stuff of nightmares: a dreaded possibility but not a daily reality. We live in the age of zero wait times. Technology is speeding everything up so much that we have shorter attention spans than goldfish (yes, really).  When the need to wait does arise, we try to fill our time—usually by turning to a mobile device.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with technology or efficiency, but a rapid pace and constant distractions might be keeping us from something more important.

More Than a Quippy Scripture

Not long ago, I was feeling spiritually adrift. I couldn’t understand it. I was going to church, rattling off prayers, and glancing at my scriptures. I occasionally felt spiritual promptings, but overall, I felt somewhat disconnected.

As I told Heavenly Father this in an anxious prayer, these words came to mind: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

It was as if the word still was highlighted, underlined, and in bold type.

I may have been doing all the right things, but I was doing them at high speeds and with shallow focus. I had adopted a distracted approach to living the gospel.

No religious practice could bring me deep spiritual connection if my participation was cursory and distracted. It was much more than a quippy scripture. To come to know God and to connect with the divine, permeating knowledge I was craving, I needed to slow down and be still.

Heeding that prompting wasn’t easy. But it made all the difference.

Now, Slow Down There …

The scriptures teach that those who “diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Let’s break it down: Learning the mysteries of God requires diligently seeking. It’s a consistent and intentional practice, not a onetime google. Next, the mysteries don’t pop up; they gradually unfold. This process takes time. And that time is critical! The time we take to ponder and seek gives us time to connect to the Spirit, by whose power answers come.

A prophet declared that meditation—“deep, continued reflection on some religious theme”—is “one of the … most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord.”  By slowing down, we can open a door to revelation. We can transcend the world’s pervasive ideals and connect with the divine. We need that door. We need to slow down.

It Takes Effort

For me, slowing down meant kneeling and speaking out loud as I prayed. The reverent posture and my own audible words helped me focus better. Slowing down meant studying from physical scriptures and taking physical notes. It takes more effort and time, and that increased effort and time is a good way to “awake and arouse your faculties,” thus allowing the Spirit and the desire for truth to “work in you” and that seed of testimony to “get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit”.

We can find almost any information with a few keystrokes, but spiritual understanding and conversion require time and diligent effort. How you slow down and devote effort to the gospel isn’t important, just that you do! When we are spoon-fed information, we eliminate much of our personal participation in our own learning. We eliminate chances to connect with the Spirit.

We can certainly embrace the technology and advances that make daily tasks easier and enable us to use our time more efficiently. But we can’t afford to adopt the distracted living and shallow thinking that so often come with it. Instead of dreading the need to wait, we can embrace it as an opportunity to slow down, meditate, and deepen our connection with the Spirit.