The Lord has spent much of my life, all of it really, teaching me how to be patient. I don’t remember asking for it (though I am guilty of asking His will to be done…). But, it’s certainly been a large part of every aspect of my sojourn here. Whether it was learning to be patient with my sisters (I was the youngest), or learning to be patient with my parents (as a teenager), or learning to be patient with the weaknesses and struggles of friends and leaders (at school and church), I’ve been being tutored in patience. As I got older, patience tutoring came in the lack of possessions, or a home, a car, or in the pursuit of education, or paying off debt. It seems everything about life, nearly, is about teaching us all to be patient.

Why the Need for Patience?

So, why is it we need to patient? Well, as mortals, it’s because we are always in the pursuit of stuff. We are always in the pursuit of knowledge, health, understanding, blessings, help, guidance, answers, etc. We are spiritually unfinished. We are physically unfinished. We are not yet immortal and exalted. And, a part of our soul knows this and so we have this incessant drive to achieve, get, arrive, and become.

So, from the moment we are born we are on the run asking for all the things we want and expecting them all to be handed to us. We’re here now and we want to get, receive, learn, and become as fast as possible and in the easiest possible way. We’re in a hurry to become whatever it is we’re supposed to become…

And herein lies our impatience. We are off running and we don’t even know where it is we are supposed to be running. We are in a hurry to get…we know not where. But God does, and so His plan is all about slowing down, figuring out His Plan for us and tackling it with wisdom and patience.

In my own experience, I have learned that when it comes to patience, there are only two major variables in God’s plan for us: when and how. We want stuff and we want it now. But, since we can’t have it now, the question is when. And, though for most of us our desires are good, often we don’t go about getting them in the best possible manner. We want things easy instead of in the way that will help us fulfill our purpose and God’s plan. Thus, patience requires leaving the how up to God.

When and How

When? Yes, when. And, how. When and how. But, when it really comes down to it, the how isn’t important because God’s how will always be far better than the how that you come up with.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about learning to be patient, truly patient. Patience is determined by our faith and trust in God.

When you truly have faith in God, there is never a question of if He will bless you. There is a never a question of if He will keep His promises. There is NEVER an if. The only real question is “When?” And, if you feel like the how is also a valid question, let me simply say that God’s how of blessing you will always be far more wonderful than the how(s) that you came up with.

Sometimes the “when” is a problem for a lot of us. We want our blessings now. We want God to fulfill His promises now. We want to become right now. We think we get it, that we understand, and that we’ve arrived. So, then we hold out our hand and demand the blessing we seek in our rush to continue on.

I used to feel that way. Until one day, I realized, that God’s path for me is perfect. If I ask Him to mess with that path, then I am asking Him for less than perfection; I’m asking Him to give me something less wonderful than He has planned.

This idea of getting less than God has planned simply because I’m impatient resonates horrifically with my type of personality. I’m exceedingly proactive, when it comes to seeking blessings, happiness, and peace. And, if the Lord handed me a Big Mac simply because I was too impatient to wait for a 5-star steak dinner, I would be devastated and unhappy. I would hate that Big Mac and I would not appreciate it. I’d likely take a hesitant bite, and then discovering that it was okay but certainly not the best that I could have had, I would toss it and feel angry and unhappy. I might even wonder why God didn’t make me wait for the better blessing.

But, I realize that it’s hard to patient with the Lord’s timescale for blessing us. It’s hard to imagine that there’s a celestial meal far greater than any 5-start restaurant we’ve ever eaten at, if we will only keep the commandments, be patient in afflictions and suffering, and strive to be Christ-like. It means sacrificing a whole bunch of metaphorical hamburgers and fries, a whole bunch of soft-serve cones, and plenty of quick fix snacks.

Hang on while I continue with this metaphor…

As all those snacks pass by on the mortal conveyor belt, it’s tempting to think that God’s promises are a farce. How could He possible want us to starve like this while we wait for some dinner when we can’t even actually imagine it’s fabulousness? This meal He’s asking us to wait for could be months, years, even a lifetime away. Is it worth it to wait that long? Is God really a god of love and kindness if He would ask us to wait soooo long?

Our blessings or long-awaited meal could be a job, spouse, health and strength, recognition, forgiveness, a spiritual witness or testimony, etc. When we ask, live for, and seek these amazing blessings God feeds us with metaphorical manna as we persevere toward our promised land. But, often, like the infamous Israelites in the desert, we get tired of the manna. We want the meal and we want it now and we don’t want to have to go to battle or suffer struggle to get it.

Often, in order for us to get our blessings and to appreciate them, God has to put us on a spiritual diet and training regimen to prepare us for this higher level of food. We end up dieting from worldly pleasures, leaving us quite hungry, and are asked to fill the void with spiritual ones. And, often, that spiritual food doesn’t look so appetizing. But, if we have the faith to trust in God and eat the spiritual food and the manna that He offers, we begin to find it far more satisfying than anything else we’ve ever tasted. At last, we are in preparation to hasten toward our blessings and our promised meal!

Patience, then, requires faith. We need God to be with us (Alma 38:4-5) and the Holy Ghost (Alma 13:28) in order to cultivate and maintain patience. The presence of God in our lives grants us the ability to see past the conveyor belt, to see forward to a far better meal worth waiting for. When they are with us, we can have peace as that mortal conveyor belt continues to roll on with all manner of “less than perfect” blessings and meals. God reminds us through His spirit all that He has in store and that it’s worth the wait. Such heavenly help strengthens our faith, our resolve, our confidence, our gratitude, and our patience.

Patience is cultivated as we go through this process time and again throughout our mortal life. Each time the conveyor belt gets longer. Each time the promised meal seems to be further and further away. And, according to our spiritual ability (1 Corinthians 10:13) God increases our capacity for godliness and patience. And, in proportion our blessings are deeper, more powerful, and more spiritually fulfilling.

A few years back I recorded a video for my mother for a class she was teaching on Job. Job is often thought of as a story of suffering. But, ultimately, it’s a story about patience and Job’s deeper discovering and understanding of grace. Without this seemingly horrific struggle in his life he may never have graduated to a greater understanding of grace. His relationship with God sustained him until far greater blessings were bestowed.

I’m younger here. But, my testimony is still the same. I’ve been through this process a few times now, and though it keeps happening, my patience and understanding of grace and God’s love for us is increasing exponentially. I wouldn’t ask for an easier life or trade away any of my metaphorical deserts. Each has taught me, increased my faith, and my patience.

It’s never a question of if God will bless you. It’s only ever a question of when. The how will ALWAYS be far better than you could ever come up with on your own. I promise each of you that you can trust God. If you are true to Him. If you live to have His Holy Spirit with you. If you remember to follow His advice (commandments) for receiving your blessings and desires, He WILL fulfill all His promises and you will receive blessings that are far better than you could imagine (Doctrine & Covenants 1:37, 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Patience with Others

With others, the principle is the same. We often try to hurry along their learning, their growth, and their understanding, and we want it to match ours (because we think ours is always better). We have duties to teach and instruct and invite others to learn truth and to come unto God. But, too often we feel that duty requires manipulation, micromanagement, belaboring, and coercion, none of which are of God (Doctrine and Covenants 121:37-43). We use these tactics, feeling justified by our good intentions. Yet, no intentions, no matter how good, ever justify using impatient means.

With those around us, the questions are the same: when and how. When…the answer is always eventually. Isaiah taught us that eventually “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” that Jesus is the Christ and that God is real and His ways are just (Isaiah 45:23-24). We don’t have to micromanage other’s journey to Christ’s greatest blessings or their repentance. We can love, serve, invite with charity, and entice with example. Then, we can leave the WHEN up to God. How…the answer is always between them and God. We can only pray to know when and if God would have us play a part.

Conclusion

It has been my experience that the sooner we stop panicking, fearing that God has failed us, and thinking we have to control everything and everyone and to rush it along, the sooner our blessings, our own growth, and the growth of others comes. It’s when we let go and have patience that things take their proper and necessary course. We have to get out of our own way, other’s way, and God’s way. We can’t force our own spiritual progression and blessings any more than we can force others. We must patiently submit to God’s will (Mosiah 3:19), cheerfully do all that lies within our power, and then stand still and see the salvation of God and for His hand to be revealed (Doctrine & Covenants 123:17).

BT

Doctrine: When we are purposefully unkind, abusive (verbally, physically, emotionally), manipulative, demeaning, belligerent, hateful, rebellious, blame others for actions, and constantly cite our good intentions as justification or excuse, etc., we are setting ourselves up to exercise, or are exercising, unrighteous dominion.

unrighteousdominion-convertedUnrighteous dominion is one of those scriptural phrases we have trouble equating with normal life. So, let’s define it.

  • Unrighteous = not righteous, or wicked
  • Dominion = sovereignty, or control

So, we could also say: unrighteous control, wicked control, unrighteous sovereignty, or wicked sovereignty.

Wicked and unrighteous are also taboo-type words to those trying to be faithful Christians. We are very hesitant to label a person wicked or unrighteous even if they do something wicked or unrighteous; whether for a moment, a few days, or even a longer while. Therefore, if a normally good person does something unrighteous or wicked, we hesitate to call it what it is.

The Lord is not afraid to call wickedness what it is. When Martin Harris, a normally faithful and wonderful man, tried to take the translated record from “the prophet”, Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “And for this cause I said that he [Martin] is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been entrusted; and he has also sought to destroy your gift” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:7). Martin Harris, and Joseph Smith, had been told “no” by the Lord several times when they asked to take the translation and show it to Martin’s family. But, Martin manipulated and guilted Joseph into going back to the Lord again and again. Joseph did so because he was afraid and aspired to Martin Harris’s friendship and financial support over the will of the Lord.  Both had great justifications which were nonetheless unacceptable to the Lord and full of pride. Both acted wickedly.

The Lord also said in Doctrine and Covenants 121:33-40 that when we:

  • “aspire to the honors of men” or, in other words, “seek for and desire the recognition and praise of the world/people over that which comes from God”
  • “cover our sins,” or delay repentance, or pretend we aren’t sinning
  • “gratify our pride,” or indulge or seek to please our own pride
  • “gratify…our vain ambition,” or indulge a useless and ultimately unproductive desire

…we are set up to “exercise control or dominion or compulsion” in unrighteousness. Or, in other words, UNRIGHTEOUS DOMINION.

We are all wicked and unrighteous in those times that we are doing purposefully unrighteous things. When we are purposefully unkind, abusive (verbally, physically, emotionally), manipulative, belligerent, hateful, demeaning, rebellious, blaming others for our actions, etc., which we all do or have done at times, we are being wicked. It doesn’t mean our innate nature is wicked or unrighteous. But, until we repent and cease from such behavior, we are, in effect, wicked men and women. And, even more importantly, when we are doing purposefully wicked things we are setting ourselves up to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Unrighteous dominion is often brought about by aspects of pride that most of us don’t think of. The first is fear. What are we afraid of? We are afraid we won’t get what we want. We are afraid someone else will do something, or not do something, that will affect us negatively. We are afraid others will get what they want and we won’t. We are afraid of being overshadowed, forgotten, unappreciated, etc. We are afraid sacrifices we’ve made will go unnoticed or unrewarded. We are simply afraid.child caught in the middle isolated on white

Another aspect of pride that creeps in and causes us to practice unrighteous dominion is a lack of faith in the intelligence and abilities of others. It is related to a fear of things not happening that we want. But it is also a feeling that we need to exert force, compulsion, or control in some manner to preserve our idea of what is best, or right. We are certain that our compulsive actions are “just” because we are doing them to “make up for” the weaknesses, issues, unrighteousness, or struggles of others.

The problem with these fears and a lack of faith in others is that is based in a lack of faith in God. Yes, a lack of faith in God. Ultimately, we try to wrest control from God when we fear the things we will not get and the things that others will not do. We step in and manipulate, abuse, guilt, badger, and the like, to compensate for our own fear and lack of faith that God has things in hand. We can see only what we will lose which blinds us to everything else. We can’t see others will and choice as their own. We can’t see or trust God’s compensations. We can’t see anything but what we can do and what others cannot.

When we can only see ourselves and what will or will not benefit us, then we can’t see clearly the feelings, needs, or capabilities of others. We judge in-righteously and exercise unrighteous dominion.

  • Unrighteous dominion has no respect for moral agency (i.e. free will, agency, freedom of choice, independent thought, etc.)
  • Unrighteous dominion tries to avoid, maneuver around, and ignore the natural consequences of choice by self and others (“I’m just trying to protect you from…”)
  • Unrighteous dominion is the momentary or complete absence of Christlike/godly love
  • All unrighteous dominion is fueled, in some form, by fear, self-love, and pride

God has said (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-45, brackets added for clarity and understanding), that in order to avoid unrighteous dominion:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained…only by persuasion, by long-suffer [patience], by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned [or not pretend love];

By kindness, and pure knowledge [or full, complete, untainted or altered], which shall greatly enlarge [edify] the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile [selfish, personal agenda]–

Let they bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly…

As well, in the final verse God says that IF we do these things we will have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and that our sovereignty (leadership or control) will be one of righteousness and truth…without compulsion…and that it will last forever. In other words, it will be godly.

Conversely, if we try to lead or hold sovereignty in any office or relationship WITHOUT the means listed above, then we can’t have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, which by default means that our leadership or control is unrighteous, full of deceit, full of compulsion, and that it will be short-lived. In other words, it will be like Satan’s control—satanic (which is the opposite of godly).

God does not exercise unrighteous dominion. He invites, entices, persuades, waits in patience, is gentle with us, and loves us. He waits for us to learn from the natural consequences of our choices. He blesses us with grace as we repent and change and strive to do what’s right. Certainly He can get righteously angry, but that anger never leads Him to compel us to repent…and He gives us plenty of warning if our actions are no longer to be tolerated (“reproving betimes with sharpness” means reproving or warning of consequences before we sin). If we learn to exercise righteous dominion, as He does, then we will be well on our way to becoming like Him.

Most of us exercise unrighteous dominion accidentally from time to time. When this happens, the reactions of those we are trying to dominate and control usually serve to check us in our actions. For those who have made it a way of life, the people around them are generally used to being dominated and controlled and either they submit (whether happily or unhappily) or they eventually rebel and leave.

Certainly verbal, emotional, and physical abuse are the worst forms of unrighteous dominion. Verbal abuse is manipulative, coercive, insulting, demeaning, threatening, and purposefully unkind. Emotional abuse is neglect, abandonment, withholding praise or compliments, giving dirty looks, exuding unspoken anger or disapproval, etc. Physical abuse can be as small as unnecessary pokes, punches, and shoves to outright pushing, hitting, slapping, and beating. It is all damaging. It is all unrighteous.

Almost without exception, those who exercise unrighteous dominion will apologize at some point. They will claim they were only doing it because they loved you. They will blame you for causing them to get to the point where they had to exercise unrighteous control. They will say they were doing it for your safety from yourself or others (excluding safety from them, of course). The excuses will mount, and they will all have the same tenor…they were doing it for you.unrighteousdominion2-converted

It is important to note that if such instances of unrighteous control/dominion were extremely rare; meaning once every five years…or something like that (excluding physical or sexual abuse, of course, because these are NEVER justifiable or acceptable). Perhaps you might understand that they were trying to do what was best for you and you could let it go. But, the blame is never yours. You do not have to repent that they acted wickedly against you.

If, however, such instances take place daily, weekly, monthly, or multiple times a year. This is NOT okay. It is never okay for a basically good person to justify unrighteously trying to control you no matter how strongly they may feel that it is in your best interests. If you allow them to continue dominating you unrighteously, you are standing partially (because they are responsible for their own actions, no matter what you do) in the way of them recognizing their faults and taking the necessary steps to repent and change.

Even God, who is ALWAYS right, never tries to compel us to do His will. His plan is that we “act for ourselves”, NOT for us “to be acted upon.” And anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is momentarily, or consistently, being duped by Satan, the Adversary.

If in the course of reading this you have identified areas in your life where you exercise unrighteous dominion, then I hope you will take the time to ponder these areas and make a plan to repent and change. Do what it takes to learn to react and act differently. Study how to “teach/lead by the Spirit.” Seek God’s help. Through the Gift of the Holy Ghost and your sincere efforts, God can effect permanent change in your very soul as soon as you truly desire it.

If, however, by reading this you have recognized that you are the victim of unrighteous dominion, then I hope you will take the time to ponder what you can do to help those you love see they are acting wickedly, and/or put yourself in a situation where you can be safe from such treatment, heal, forgive, and move on. Seek help.

BT