Patience isn’t just waiting- it’s hope in progress! I’ve got 5. Five ways that we possibly ruin/shorten the reach of our happiness and hope in this life and I’ll give you my personal application of each of them. Maybe you should read this- just to prove you’re not affecting your own ability to wait in peace for the next good thing to come your way.
1. Iniquity robs hope. What do you hope for? Good weather for the picnic Saturday? Or the private hope desired for as we search for peace or patience when facing hard times. Some have hope in Christ and in a plan here upon this earth. I sure do. I like what the ancient prophet Moroni taught, “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4). I’m glad he wrote that. It motivates me. I love the part about having an anchor of hope, and being sure by doing good things- that’s faith in action. And that is where hope comes from.
Whether our current discouragement or dissatisfaction comes from our circumstances or our sins, there is a way to find strengthened hope. “As we strive to live the gospel, we grow in our ability to “abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13). We increase in hope as we pray and seek God’s forgiveness.” This may be something you need to notice for yourself about yourself. After a bad day of doing not enough good things and a few unkind ones, I wasn’t all that hopeful. I didn’t have enough peace in the things I needed to be patient in. I prayed, repented, and have found that good days of loving God and others help kindle the happiness of hope in my heart. I have made it a priority to protect that hope by being faithful to God’s commandments, loving those around me, and repenting when I make poor choices. It works. The less sin in my heart, the more room there is for hope.
2. Fear driven desires. What we need has to be prioritized above what we want. In my top 10 list of reasons to get re-married was the hope that “the one” would be willing check under the bed for aliens. (Don’t laugh, you’ve been afraid of silly things too, right?) This led down a path of fear driven desires. It seemed like every night that I heard a weird noise, I established a strengthened desire for a husband. (okay you can laugh) On dates, I would consider asking the guy if we got married, would he be willing to check under the bed if I was scared. I shouldn’t have been letting my silly fears into a first date conversation. In reality, what I wanted was a alien hunter, but what I needed was someone I could feel safe around.
Once I set aside the silly fear and looked a little deeper, there were fond memories of my Dad locking up the house at the end of the day, and always allowing us to feel protected and watched over. There was the comfort of his faith as he prayed for us. That was what I was missing. Married people probably don’t realize what it’s like to come home with no one there to make sure you returned safely. Focusing on finding a man that brings a caring and protective peace is a treasure and that treasure is what I want. It’s not fear driven anymore, it’s love driven. And when you’re not afraid, it’s easier to wait patiently… even in the dark.
3. Watching the clock and measuring your hair. A few years ago, I had a hair catastrophe. Too many highlights turned into bleached blonde hair and then of course, I also wanted it straight. I applied a chemical relaxer on my own to save money. It had seemed like such a wise investment of effort and $5, even for a novice. Within minutes my hair was a tangled solid mass. It had turned into a crusted bale of melted hay. It wouldn’t wash out. I had to grab the kitchen scissors and cut it off. And then, to get all the damaged hair and chemicals removed, I had to get my hair cut shorter than my sons. I instantly wanted long hair again. Each day I woke up to the thought of long hair.
For months and months I measured my hair daily, thinking that if I saw progress that I would feel more hope in my long hair returning. Well, do you know when my hair really started to grow? When I lost my measuring tape. I would catch a glance in the mirror now and then and be surprised with the progress. When patience is about growth, in an area of our lives or in a relationship developing, measuring too much can leave us feeling like nothing is happening. Try assessing weekly or monthly progress instead. Don’t rule out something long, curly and soft because all you see right now is a possibly permanent pixie cut.
4. Being pushy with agency. Maybe you aren’t running faster than you are able, but what of that person you are pushing at a pace beyond their comfort level? We could consider announcing something like the following, “I’m not going to sit around and wait forever for you to realize that we would be awesome together, you let me know when you are interested.” Yeah, about that kind of comment, that’s not giving someone their agency, that’s shoving it down their throat. We may have the ability to catch the vision of something great, and want it all the more, but watching someone make baby steps towards a new decision can be treasured.
There are some people who need to see something from many angles prior to getting down on one knee. We could also be learning cool things along the way as we watch how someone makes a decision. There is a peace that comes from thoughtfulness, have you ever felt that? Though you might not have trust nor desire enough to take yourself off the market to see where this adventure goes, it’s actually fun (okay maybe not at first) to see what it brings out in you. How about a date where you enjoy the time, minute by minute, instead of taking each long stare as a chance to imagine eternity. Don’t get caught up in how much time on the clock has passed, or how much is left. See if you can go as slow and careful as your date does. See what you learn about each other in the process. When you find yourself desiring to squelch agency, remember how important agency is in this life.
5. Don’t think about what you want too much. The fifth caution against ruining patience is an important one. Sure, make a dream board, a list of what you are hoping for, tell your friends what interests you, but don’t daydream all day and night about what you want and exactly how you want it. The reason this can be so problematic is this: Just because you can imagine something or someone does not mean they are really within reach. That kiss you can imagine isn’t real. Thinking about kissing someone may be just as unfair as stealing a kiss. No mater how kissable his lips are, and how lightheaded you get imagining dwelling there lip to lip. . . doesn’t guarantee anything other than increased impatience. And when you pair impatience and immorality, it’s like showing up hot for your job at a firework factory. There are many in the world who see shades of grey where none should exist. Have you heard the old farmer coined phrase, “If you’re going to have go, you also need some woah!”? Keep your thoughts virtuous, it will keep the hope you need within reach.
So my advice to reflect upon tonight? Protect your hope, keep desires faith driven, note progress, allow agency, and don’t think about kissing too much! Be grateful for the moments that feel like dreams come true as they happen. Happy memories are a treasure.
Remember that the Lord loves you, even when you don’t know the meaning of all things. He is always trying to teach us. Have you felt that today? May hope always be found in the lives and smiles around us!
For further reflection: Three ways to build hope