I want to discuss a 4-letter word today. It is a word that we are all too familiar with during this time of our lives. It is a word with great power but also much anxiety. The word is…
See what I mean? It contains much power, but also much apprehension. All of us have memories of being young and having our immediate dreams shattered by our parents or teachers firmly asserting this word. All of us remember the conflict that often ensues when we debate whether we should take this word’s advice or act hastily — and often rashly — towards our desires. I for one can list many times in which I should have waited but didn’t. Failure to do so resulted in things such as a stomachaches, headaches, bruises, hurt feelings, and almost always regret. Thus, we see the obvious battle between the blessings of waiting and the difficulty of doing so.
A key principle when it comes to waiting is that it differs from the word “stopping.” The word “stop” is also a 4-letter word with power and apprehension, but in a different way. You see, to stop means to halt your progress completely. While stopped, you really don’t do anything productive. The mentality is that since you’re not moving, you might as well stop trying. Standing in opposition to this is “waiting,” which, when done correctly, implies that you are consistently bettering yourself even while visible progress towards a goal is halted. Actively waiting means you consistently do the small, character-improving things while you anxiously await your path to continue. Actively waiting means you have hope, while stopping means you have none.
It’s quite easy as a missionary to actively wait. Every day you do productive things that not only lead to goals but also naturally lead to character development. I found that I almost always felt hopeful and productive as a missionary, even on days when we didn’t find visible success, simply because we never, ever stopped. Now, upon coming home, I find much more temptation to stop, relax, and let the character development stop. That has caused me much sadness at times and has led me to write this article.
I have learned a few valuable lessons since coming home that have helped me tremendously. The first comes from an odd source — a recent Disney movie, one with much hype and acclaim. Frozen 2, the long-awaited sequel to possibly the best Disney movie of all time, really lived up to its name. I think the music was great and the story was fulfilling!
However, what got me the most was the theme of the movie. The head troll — I believe his name is Pabbie — shows up to offer some trademark advice to Anna and Elsa. He looks into the future, deems it uncertain, and then makes this golden remark:
“When the future is uncertain, all you can do is do the next right thing.”
What a brilliant saying! Never does Disney fail to produce divinely inspired wisdom worthy of a gospel insight. What do we do when we don’t know what to do? What do we do when we choose (or are asked or forced) to wait? We simply do the next right thing! By doing so, we secure blessings such as character development, joy, and further guidance. Waiting isn’t so hard when you stop focusing on the fact that you’re waiting and start doing right thing after right thing. Pretty soon we will find what we were waiting for — or something far better than we could have imagined.
All of us wait for something.
For starters, we are all waiting for life to become normal again.
What else are we waiting for?
We may receive promises and assurances that things will be okay, but find ourselves waiting desperately for them to be realized.
We may wait and pray and plead for those we love to be healed or to make better choices but find that things only get worse.
We may be waiting to find love but struggle to recover after a broken relationship.
We may await blessings we know we have earned and deserve but find only trial after trial after trial.
We may desire faith and actively seek it but are blocked by continuous clouds of doubt and disbelief.
We may yearn for deliverance, either for ourselves or others, but only find that while waiting, burdens continue to build upon us.
We may eagerly anticipate a glorious reunion with family and eternal rest in heaven but are, for now, expected to endure a difficult and often dark world — one in which we have to wait for almost everything worthwhile.
Whatever we are waiting for, let us be firm. Let us actively wait and never stop improving ourselves. Let us do the next right thing, and then the next, and then the next, keeping an eye out for immediate blessings rather than focusing on those that have not yet come. And let us help others along the way, for actively waiting is never something that should be done emotionally alone.
I close now on a spiritual note with words from a beloved Church leader:
“God’s promises are not always fulfilled as quickly as or in the way we might hope; they come according to His timing and in His ways…
Looking back, I know for sure that the promises of the Lord, if perhaps not always swift, are always certain…
Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Continue in Patience,” April 2010).
I know and promise that waiting, though difficult, is possible. I have been waiting for a long time for certain blessings and promises to be fulfilled, and I know you have too. If anything, we all wait for a better life after this one, one with all of our family and with our God. Let us rely on the Savior, Jesus Christ, Someone who made all of our waiting not only possible but worth it.
Adam Simpson is a man of many unique talents, from dancing to ultimate frisbee, from drumming to writing. He was born and raised in Layton, Utah, the middle child surrounded by two sisters. He served a mission in Sydney, Australia, and now attends school at BYU. His love for writing comes from a love of philosophy and a love for God.