In my studies of the New Testament this week I came across Luke 21:19: “In your patience possess ye your souls.” As I am currently working to develop more tolerance for other people, I found this statement to be quite interesting. The principle that I took from this scripture is: “I can win mastery over my soul by practicing patience.”
I found an extremely interesting article about patience by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf titled “Continue in Patience” from the April 2010 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Uchtdorf began his talk by discussing a study done with children and marshmallows in the 1960s by a professor at Stanford University. The professor placed one marshmallow in front of each of several children. He told the children that he would give them a second marshmallow when he returned if they did not eat their first one. The professor left the room for 15 minutes and watched through a two-way mirror. Some children ate their marshmallows immediately, while some waited a few minutes. Only thirty percent of the children received a second marshmallow. The professor “kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.”
After sharing the simple experiment, President Uchtdorf says that it had become a “landmark study suggesting that the ability to wait – to be patient – was a key character trait that might predict later success in life.” He continues:
Patience – the ability to put our desires on hold for a time – is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace….
Patience is a godly attribute that can heal souls, unlock treasures of knowledge and understanding, and transform ordinary men and women into saints and angels Patience is truly a fruit of the Spirit.
Patience means staying with something until the end. It means delaying immediate gratification for future blessings. It means reining in anger and holding back the unkind word. It means resisting evil, even when it appears to be making others rich.
Patience means accepting that which cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace, and faith. It means being “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 3:19). Ultimately, patience means being “firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 2:10) every hour of every day, even when it is hard to do so. In the words of John the Revelator, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and … faith [in] Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
Patience is a process of perfection…. Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most. This was true in the time of the Savior. It is true in our time as well, for we are commanded in these latter days to “continue in patience until ye are perfected” (Doctrine and Covenants 67:13).
Most people have a difficult time waiting for something that we desire. The more we want it, the more difficult it is to wait. We have been conditioned to get what we want as soon as we want it. We live in a world where everything is instantaneous. We have fast food, instant messaging, and instantaneous information from Siri or Google. We do not like to wait in lines at grocery stores, airports, or traffic lights. We want what we want, and we want it yesterday! We have many opportunities in our everyday lives to practice patience. Our world will be a much more pleasant place when we all learn patience. We might not want to be patient, but we must develop this characteristic in order to “possess” our souls and become perfect.