Monday, October 17, 2011

A Divine Characteristic: Patience

I have come to painful realization of yet another personal character flaw. You see, over the past several years, I thought I was learning to be more patient. Much to my chagrin, I have lately come to see that what I thought of as patience was only a different coping mechanism, and not development of a divine trait at all.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be God? To have infinite love for an infinite group of people more or less bent on destroying themselves? That sounds nothing like heaven to me. So how does He do it? How does He wait patiently for us to learn the things He already knows, lessons which hurt us needlessly, hurt others immensely, and leave us miserable in a lifetime that was meant for joy?

The easy answer is His infinite knowledge. He must know that it is better for us to pass through sorrow, that things will work out well in the end. That even if we fail miserably and never come home again, it is better for us to have gone through the experiences of choosing for ourselves.

But I think there is more to it than that. I don't think that patience is divine patience when it is based on lack of control, or by killing the desire in the first place. After all, the Father still wants us to gain immortality and eternal life. He wants it so much, that He has described it as his "work and glory." So He hasn't done what I do in order to be patient.

And it goes without saying that He has the ability to completely control everything, if He wanted.

I have been relatively patient with a great series of disappointments over the last several years. Devastating, paradigm-altering, soul-crushing disappointments. But the way I've been patient is by training myself not to care, to stop desiring the things that disappointed me. And it worked. I'm very, very good at managing my emotion. And by managing, I don't mean handling. I mean reducing.

About ten years ago, I had become so good at it that I didn't feel anything serious for other people any more. They had all disappointed me to the point where rather than be upset and overly emotional about it, I had subconsciously decided it was more dignified to simply not feel. To remove the opportunity for disappointment. That way, I could protect others from the depths of my emotion and protect myself from embarrassment.

Realizing that the cost was higher than the cure was worth, I have been on a quest for the last decade to try to find a way to feel again, to accept the vulnerability that caring for others brings. And every time I have been successful, I have been hurt. Deeply. Every time I am hurt, the old defense mechanisms come into play and my mind begins to automatically immunize against the pain.

But it is enough. It stops now.

God is not patient with us because He can't control us. Nor is He patient because He doesn't care. He is patient because He loves us so much that He feels we are worth the pain we bring to Him. I want to feel that. I want to feel it about everyone, but especially those I love in my life.

I am not satisfied with protecting myself from pain and embarrassment. I want to love as He loves.


  1. I've been finding, as my children grow (and I get more of them) that being a parent can give perspective on what it is like for our Heavenly Parents. We encourage them to grow, comfort when they fall, worry about them making bad choices, and through it all help prepare them to one day become better parents than we once were.

  2. We are meant to experience joy in this life, but sorrow is an integral part of the experience as well. We all knew that going in, or such is my understanding.

  3. Thank you for the thoughts. A good friend of mine pointed this out to me today, and it couldn't have been more timely. My kids' dad is in the ICU right now. We don't know whether he'll make it, so it has been a rough week to day the least. I read your post as part of our family night lesson, and it was perfect for my kids.

    ps: I'm curious about the horse pictures. What are they from? I was getting a post ready on "bridle your passions" so I'm wondering if you had the similar thoughts.

  4. They are from a movie named, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," which is one of my favorite movies. Not the least because it is about horses. :D


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