Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Least Favorite Trait: Patience

It is no secret that Patience is my least favorite of all the Christ-like attributes. Sometimes during church when I know this is the subject of the day, I roll my eyes and think...Great, just what I need. And I know my reaction is due in part because I do REALLY need it. 

Until I was married, I thought I had a pretty good hold on this trait. I mean, let's face it - in Mormon culture I was 30 and unmarried, I completed my master's degree and wasn't working in the field I thought I was going to be, I was running from place to place trying to make a living and a life in DC, I lived with 4 other girls....patience was something I felt I was good at. Then, I got married.

We haven't had an 'ideal' marriage....or relationship, for that matter. We are both learning and I feel like this learning process is taking a lot longer than it should. But, hey, what else do I have to compare this to. There are not two other people in the world just like us. Even though there are couples who we can turn to for advice and healing, we are unique in how we deal with certain issues because of our unique and distinct personalities. There are obviously faith-related principles that we try to live by that help us get through the tough times, but all in all, we are both trying given our own strengths and weaknesses.

When I read an article in the Mormon Ensign this month, I was reminded about what it was like to have the kind of patience I felt I had 3 years ago being single in DC. The truth of the matter is that I still struggle to understand timeline and how to deal with current situations with grace. I moved to DC in 2009 without a job. I was a substitute teacher, a lifeguard, and an intern all at once while I searched for a full time job. At that time, I found a quote - which I placed somewhere I could see it everyday, and which is also in the following article:

Patience: More Than Waiting

“Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance. Put another way, too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising. So it is with us. If we are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be.” by Elder Maxwell.
I love how he put it so eloquently....a cell of circumstance. I have been to many seminars and read several self-help books and one theme that always creeps up is how we attach our emotions so much to the circumstance that we forget how to be. That is a T. Based on earlier posts, you will see how much it has been important for me to realize that just because someone isn't happy or having a good time when they are with me, does not reflect on me as an individual. 

The first year of our marriage, my sweetheart was in the darkest space he has ever been. He was sad, and it took me a year to finally realize that it wasn't my fault. One whole year of feeling like I could have been better, something was wrong with me; I was in complete and utter misery. Counseling, going to church, going to the temple, scripture study, prayer, service...everything I did to not feel that dark chasm consume my life too, didn't seem work. It felt like a temporary band-aid. I remember thinking, is this ever going to get better, or should I get out right now? 

BUT over time, all those things I listed above including more prayer, seeking counseling, talking with others, helped me understand a little more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I was finally able to feel a little healing from feelings of inadequacy, guilt, disappointment, and shame. I still struggle with feeling completely healed, but I have a better grasp on what I need to do when I start spiraling downward. 

Without getting into the details of what I do to prevent, or even what I do when I am getting deeper and deeper in it, I realized that I had been passively patient in my previous trials. One other quote from this article that I love says, "Because patience tests us at a very personal level, our focus is often inward. But Elder Maxwell taught that “patience also helps us to realize that while we may be ready to move on, having had enough of a particular learning experience, our continued presence is often needed as a part of the learning environment of others.” Not only do we need patience, but others also need our patience or the example of our patience."

"We’ll all be required to wait for things in our lives—even at times the most righteous desires of our hearts. But Jesus Christ, our “best, [our] heav’nly Friend,” can comfort and reassure us of good things to come. And He is lovingly patient with us as we learn to be like Him, as we learn to face the expected and unexpected plot twists of mortality and say to our Father, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”"

Even now it seems that I am waiting...always waiting for the next step. My patience in situations and circumstances that I don't like, has waxed and waned - and my relationships have suffered as a result of being passively patient.

I am aware of what actively practicing patience can do for me. I don't quite think I am ready to ask for it though...and perhaps this is due in part to my comfort in being passive. I know I need to gain a better knowledge of the principle: if I turn to Heavenly Father in this plea to do His will that He will show me what being patient really means. But I fear that how I currently practice patience will prevent me from wanting to know how.

Side note: In trying to find some artwork that reflects Active Patience, I searched key words Perseverance, Reaching for Hope, Time and Patience. Then I typed in Google, If patience were a piece of art. I came across this wonderful oil painting by Leonid Afremov titled, The End of Patience

I have copied the descriptions below, because they are beautiful and portray this idea of sometimes how painful it can be to be patient, but how it can also be full of hope and beauty.

Start Quote

Unfortunate evening

There’s doubtfully a single person on Earth who likes waiting. When you come to a meeting on time or several minutes before, waiting seems to turn into torture. Imagine if you’re expecting the person you love. Then every minute before the meeting seems to be an hour. Your heart is beating very fast. Your mouth goes dry. Your hands are shaking. Do you remember such a feeling? It’s very contradictory. You feel happily excited and very nervous at the same time. When the person you’ve been waiting for finally comes, there’s nothing better in the world than just to say hello and dissolve in their arms. Relive these feeling once more with this wonderful picture by Leonid Afremov, one of the best-known modern painting artists.


Everything can happen differently. You might be sitting alone on the bench in the park waiting for someone to come. However, that person doesn’t show up. And you have been waiting for fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes… Still they haven’t come. You’ve been watching other couples strolling around on the alleys of a beautiful autumn park with its colors. They were holding each other’s hands, talking and laughing. They even looked at you to see if you were going to leave and they could sit on the bench so that they could be closer to each other. All those couples went either to the closest cafes all modern decor or maybe home. You take out your umbrella and keep waiting. It’s been an hour. It started to rain. You feel desperation and finally decide to leave.

What attracts us most in this sad modern painting?

  • Wonderful autumn trees dressed in beautifully colored leaves.
  • Elegant tall lanterns throwing their warm yellow light on the trunks of the trees and the pavement of the alley.
  • Even such a usual thing as wet asphalt looks charming on this canvas.It reflects every ray of light from the lanterns as well as from the sky.
  • A delicate figure of a young woman hiding under a big umbrella.
  • Modern painting techniques demonstrated by the artist who works with a palette knife.

No matter how hard it was for that elegant lady to wait for a long time and then leave, she is walking towards something light. Something good. Perhaps something better than she could even imagine.

End Quote 

What I like most about this painting and the description is this idea portrayed, which I bolded above. She is walking - she is actively going toward the light...something good. The brilliant colors also make me feel hopeful for her. When I typed in the key words listed above, all the portraits and art that came up were dark and dreary. While this scene was probably in the evening, and it is potentially dark because of the rain...the colors tend to tell another story. The scene looks as if it starts and ends in beauty. 

Maybe that is what I have to hold onto.