What do we mean when we say patience?

What do we mean when we say patience?

Often we conjure up the image of waiting for a letter to come in the mail or waiting for our dream soul mate to enter into our lives, but patience is more about what we do than about what we don’t do.

Patience is the ability or capacity to accept, tolerate, or endure delay, trouble, suffering, affliction, insult, injury, or opposition without retaliating or complaining or getting angry, frustrated, or anxious. Just like any other ability, it requires concerted, regular, consistent effort to acquire this virtue. Merely passively waiting for a letter is not enough. We must act, accepting that we will not receiving the letter any faster than it will come, tolerating our current letterless state, and enduring well by filling the interim with meaningful activities that will improve our lives and possibly even help us to better appreciate and understand the letter when it does come.

Patience is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When we are patient, we hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith–you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.

Patience requires trusting in God and doing His will and waiting on His timing. Patience builds faith, and since faith is a principle of action, patience increases our ability to act and not be acted upon. Patient people are willing to put in the time, sweat, tears, and pain to accomplish difficult things even when progress is slow, opposition is great, or interest is occasionally lacking. Patient people are willing to train for marathons and log mile after mile and finally slog along hour after hour to accomplish something they never imagined they could accomplish. Patient people continue to serve even when they themselves are poor emotionally, spiritually, or temporally.

Patient people have the inner strength to consider solutions to problems that others might dismiss as too time-consuming. They avoid jumping the gun and looking for quick fixes when additional planning and longer solutions are necessary. They plan effectively for the future, execute their plans despite discouragement, and have the clarity of mind to discern whether a particular aim is worth maintaining or ought to be modified to reflect the reality of what can be accomplished.

Patient people have faith even in the midst the steepest adversity and as a result are the most well-equipped to deal with life’s trials. They are industrious when others would give up, persistent when the going gets tough, and hopeful when the situation might seem bleak.

“Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.

-President Thomas S. Monson, “Patience–a Heavenly Virtue,” Oct. 1995 General Conference

(See “Continue in Patience,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2010 General Conference.)

Related Scripture References and notes:

Alma 34:3,40-41

Amulek takes up teaching the poor among the Zoramites where Alma has left off. He, too, commends them for their humility despite the pride of the rich. Interestingly, though, he exhorts them to be patient in their afflictions. What does it mean to be impatient in afflictions? To wish for instantaneous solutions rather than putting forth your best effort and trusting in God even when every power on earth seems to be combining against you. Our afflictions are part of this mortal experience, and they are wonderful opportunities for us to grow. We should be thankful for each of our trials and ask God in faith to learn from our challenges, failures, and infirmities and become stronger spiritually and emotionally and more capable because of it.

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