Patience is not indifference. Actually, it means caring very much but being willing, nevertheless, to submit to the Lord and to what the scriptures call the “process of time.”
Patience is not only a companion of faith but is also a friend to free agency.
Inside our impatience there is sometimes an ugly reality: We are plainly irritated and inconvenienced by the need to make allowance for the free agency of others.
In our impatience—which is not the same thing as divine discontent—we would override others, even though it is obvious that our individual differences and preferences are so irretrievably enmeshed with each other that the only resolution which preserves free agency is our patience and longsuffering with each other.
The patient person assumes that what others have to say is worth listening to. A patient person is not so chronically eager to put forth his or her own ideas. In true humility, we do some waiting upon others. We value them for what they say and what they have to contribute. Patience and humility are special friends. Since our competition in life, as Elder Boyd K. Packer has perceptively said, is solely with our old self, we ought to be free, you and I, as members of the Church, from the jealousies and anxieties of the world which go with interpersonal competition. Very importantly, it is patience, when combined with love, which permits us “in process of time” to detoxify our disappointments. Patience and love take the radioactivity out of our resentments. These are neither small nor occasional needs in most of our lives.
Thus it is that patience is to human nature what photosynthesis is to nature. Photosynthesis, the most important single chemical reaction we know, brings together water, light, chlorophyll, and carbon dioxide, processing annually the hundreds of trillions of tons of carbon dioxide and converting them to oxygen as part of the process of making food and fuel. The marvelous process of photosynthesis is crucial to life on this planet, and it is a very constant and patient process. So, too, is an individual‘s spiritual growth. Neither patience nor photosynthesis are conspicuous processes. Patience is always involved in the spiritual chemistry of the soul, not only when we try to turn the trials and tribulations—the carbon dioxide, as it were—into joy and growth, but also when we use it to build upon the seemingly ordinary experiences to bring about happy and spiritual outcomes. Patience is, therefore, clearly not fatalistic, shoulder-shrugging resignation. It is the acceptance of a divine rhythm to life; it is obedience prolonged. Patience stoutly resists pulling up the daisies to see how the roots are doing. Patience is never condescending or exclusive—it is never glad when others are left out. Patience never preens itself; it prefers keeping the window of the soul open.