This is part 4 of our Mormon Channel blog series on patience. Amanda Wallace discusses how she has developed patience with and through her faith as a young, single Latter-day Saint.
I’ve prayed for patience my entire life.
Day-to-day, it’s often a prayer that feels unanswered. I notice everything, and I’m bothered by the lot of it—bothered by chewing and poor phone manners and waiting on a bread basket; bothered by interruptive listeners and lazy workers and any form of a lie. My tolerance capacity feels so limited so often, and I’m bothered by that deficit as well. Patience is not my strong suit.
However, through the power of collective prayers spanning 20-something years, I have been abundantly blessed in learning patience; more specifically, I have learned patience in inadequacy, a principle with a practice that continually preserves my faith.
I’m convinced feelings of inadequacy are among the loneliest we face. To feel less than enough—to feel in too deep to change, to feel ashamed of a past or a confused current, to be stuck in a rut that won’t let us free—is to feel the depths of loneliness. To believe we don’t belong—in a challenging career or motherhood or church—to believe we’re limited to the skills we have, because what if we fail in our leap for more; to doubt our ability to nurture a child or to feel sin and shame —to feel any such inadequacy is to feel isolated from God’s infinite, encompassing, adequate love, and that is to feel alone.
I think we make our most destructive decisions in that state, in that state of divorcement from our God. It’s in our spiritual separation from Him—separation for a minute, month, or mile—that we lose confidence in Him, in ourselves, in His plan to deliver us from ourselves. In our inadequacies and isolation, we lose sight of a higher purpose, which inherently marginalizes morality, choice, and consequence; if God is gone, why should we stay—stay virtuous, faithful, or continually mocked for upholding His law? Why should we wrestle sin and guilt if eating and drinking bring the merry and bright? How, in God’s absence, can we know chance from miracle and prayer from luck and why any of this merits response?
In our times of loneliness and isolation, these decisions seem to matter less; seemingly, we’re unaffected by and unaccountable to anyone but ourselves. We’re without quality control, leaping toward a rabbit hole of remorse. And now cue patience, our standard, our triple check, our quality control. The capacity to accept or tolerate loneliness, inadequacy, trouble, suffering, questions, or doubts without losing faith, without throwing in the towel, without quitting God and all His glory—that capacity to accept and persevere is patience, and it can be ours. Without exception, we will feel alone, full of doubt, desperately sad, totally insecure, buried in sin, and crippled by shame, but we can be believing, nonetheless. We can hold to something bigger than ourselves, and we can do it through patience.
In those 20-something years of prayers, I’ve learned to put patience into practice by exercising integrity—even when it’s hard and even when it’s lame, when it’s mocked or belittled, when I can’t stand the pain. I can’t stand the disparity between blessings and righteousness. I’m troubled by the heartache the good guys know. I feel lame suggesting a channel change, and I could do without strict dating bounds—and yet, at my best, I cling to the faith anyway. Then, when I feel inadequate and distant from the divine, I already know how to move forward with faith. When I’m lonely I’m already prepared to persevere, to trust myself to do what’s right. When I’m scared and insecure, I’m equipped to be patient until it passes—and that is peace unto my soul.