February 10-16, 2020
2 Nephi 6:7 “…and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.”
2 Nephi 6:13 “…and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.”
2 Nephi 10:23 “Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves – to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.”
Waiting. One of the most difficult and common parts of our lives. There is a lot of waiting going on in my family right now. Some are waiting for a job; some are waiting to see what will happen to their job. We are waiting to see the fate of some foster children that have been in the care of a family member. There are a million things.
There are a surprising number of things that we can learn about in regards to waiting: why a period of waiting might occur and what it might mean, how to do it well and cheerfully, and what exactly we are waiting for.
Why does the Lord ask us to wait?
The answer to this question can be long and complex; it’s so incredibly situational that it’s difficult to answer it directly. However, there are some principles that may help you find answers about your period of waiting.
1) Periods of waiting don’t mean your sinning or not doing enough.
My husband and I dated for a year and a half. For most of the world, this isn’t odd. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and especially in Utah), this is an abnormal amount of time. It was also a very difficult period of time for me. It never felt like I should completely move on, but I also just felt a ton of confusion whenever I thought about marrying him. I often asked myself if it was a stupor of thought, I often broke up with him, and we often got back together because it didn’t feel right being apart.
Hindsight is 2020, right? I can now see many reasons as to why Heavenly Father might have asked me to wait. I’ll save those reasons for another time, but I know now that the waiting period was intentional on the part of my Father in Heaven.
I did not know that while I was waiting. I often prayed and begged for revelation and guidance on what direction to take. I asked Heavenly Father what I needed to change. I asked for humility and courage to follow the answers. I asked Him to help me understand what He was trying to tell me. I even tried acting. I went dress shopping and started to make plans only to watch them fall apart. I tried breaking up with him, but small pieces of guidance from God kept leading me back. When I felt stuck, I assumed it was because I was sinning or in the very least, I wasn’t doing enough to earn the answer. I wasn’t following some commandment that He wanted me to follow. I hadn’t learned the lesson He wanted me to learn yet. I assumed I was falling short.
This was inaccurate. Sometimes we aren’t receiving answers because there’s something we need to learn or because we aren’t doing what’s right, but sometimes we aren’t “receiving answers” because the whole point really is to just wait. There are times when our only commandment is to “be still.” In D&C 5:34, the Lord directs Martin Harris to , “Stop, and stand still until I command thee…”
So for those who don’t know which direction to head and have tried to act (but been corrected), I give you the same advice that Moses gave to his people.
Exodus 14:13 “…Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…”
2) Sometimes the waiting part is the growth part.
So here’s a bit of an analogy for you. I am a (no longer certified) personal trainer. There are a couple of different kinds of exercises, and one of these types is known as isometric exercises. When you picture lifting weights, many people picture a bicep curl or a squat. These are fantastic for your body, but another kind of exercise is the kind where your muscles are engaged but aren’t moving. The most common example that many people would recognize is a plank. When you are performing a plank, your body is working hard to maintain the position even though you’re not actually moving. Your muscles are getting stronger, and with each isometric practice, they are going to be able to maintain positions longer.
Sometimes our growth will come from moving forward with faith. Sometimes our growth will be holding still in an uncomfortable position for a prolonged period of time.
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord.”
3) Sometimes the timing is off.
I had a friend who dearly wanted to serve a mission. She had wanted to serve one for a majority of her life, and she had prepared herself to do so. However, when she prayed and told Heavenly Father about her desires, she continually felt like the answer was no. While this was frustrating and somewhat tragic to her, she complied and went about her life. Shortly thereafter, her body plunged into some major health issues. These health issues would not have allowed her to serve the way she wanted. As soon as her health improved, she went on to serve powerfully. Trust His timing; He isn’t toying with you. He loves you, and He is incredibly purposeful.
4) Sometimes the Lord has something better in mind.
There isn’t much to be said beyond that. If we were to see the glory and blessings that He has in store, we would not wriggle so much under the pressure of waiting.
How do we do wait well and cheerfully?
So just to make sure that this blog post is really confusing, I’m actually going to answer this question in the next section. You’ll understand in a minute. However, I kept this separate section because I wanted to talk about something before we move on to waiting joyfully.
Waiting well does not mean waiting with a plastered smile on our faces. Let’s take a lesson from our Savior in Gethsemane. I can assure you that He wasn’t smiling as He waited for the atonement to be completed. In fact, He was “very heavy.” He asked His most trusted friends to wait with Him more than once. His soul was “sorrowful unto death.” He fell onto the ground. He asked to be released from His calling. He stayed faithful without friends to buoy Him up. So how did He do it? It doesn’t necessarily say, but I have a couple of guesses from the advice that He gives to us. He reflected on the consequences of not staying faithful. He loved His Father even when He felt abandoned. He thought about you and me, and His love was so strong that He couldn’t picture making a different choice.
We can follow that example and look for reasons to wait faithfully.
What exactly are we waiting for?
Doctrine and Covenants 133:45 “For since the beginning of the world have not men heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath any eye seen, O God, besides thee, how great things thou hast prepared for him that waiteth for thee.”
This is one of my all time favorite verses. We are waiting for things that are better than we can imagine. One of my favorite things to do when it’s hard to wait (cough cough helping me wait cheerfully), is to literally sit and imagine what Heavenly Father has promised me. Some of these blessings happen in this life and some happen in the next life. I don’t know if all of the following will happen, but I can imagine them and Heavenly Father can deliver on His promise to give me blessings that I can’t even begin to currently understand.
Meeting Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, and Jesus Christ again
Growing old with a spouse
Reuniting with a child who was lost and raising them after the Resurrection
Reuniting with a parent, grandparent, or sibling
Watching your child become a parent
Having a young and healthy body again
Returning home from a mission and seeing your family again
Being sealed to a family member that may not be currently sealed to you
Watching someone you love get baptized
Watching someone you love be healed
Meeting your spouse
Having your first child
Being reunited with a beloved pet
Getting answers to questions you didn’t understand
Seeing other worlds
Meeting past prophets
An eternity of delicious food
A good night’s rest
Watching a child’s first choir concert or sports game
Being free of mental illness
Being free from death
Speaking in a perfect language
Moving things with your mind
Being free from weariness
To see the past with understanding and without pain
To be understood
Watching the ordinance of Resurrection
Watching the last baptism for the dead occur
Taking part in the Millennium on this side or that
Petting a tiger or a bear
Talking to a tiger or a bear
Seeing perfect justice occur in appropriate situations
Understanding others and feeling forgiveness towards them
No more sweating (I hate sweating.)
Watching others be freed and healed from slavery, sex trafficking, or abusive situations
Baby kisses for eternity
Deeper understanding and feeling of purpose
Seeing your divine potential
Seeing the divine potential of someone you love
Being free of temptation or addiction
It’s easy to think of things.
What is something you wish to be free of? It will be gone.
What is something you deeply want? It’ll be yours (or something better will be).
To paraphrase, echo, and emphasize Joseph Smith’s words, I know that God is good and that if we could only believe it, we would know that we have every reason to feel joy and hope right now. We have had promises given to us if we remain faithful. Whether it happens today, tomorrow, or in 3,074 years, we can rejoice that it will happen.