By Small and Simple Things: Talks from the 2011 BYU Women's Conference (Hardcover)(edit)
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About seventy-five years before the advent of Jesus Christ, the prophet Alma met with his son Helaman to give him counsel. The theme of the 2011 BYU Women's Conference focuses on one facet of that advice, that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" (Alma 37:6).
The talks compiled here reflect that wise yet seemingly contradictory statement: Small and simple doctrines, acts, and thoughts are the basis of the great things that are accomplished through the gospel of Jesus Christ: from consistent daily prayer comes the faith and direction needed for a family to realize their dreams of living together forever; from monthly visits comes enduring friendship and inspired help; from steady scripture reading and pondering comes deep and abiding faith and insight.
"Vital spiritual patterns are evident in the life of the Savior, in the scriptures, and in the teachings of living prophets and apostles. These spiritual patterns are now and always have been important aids to discernment and sources of direction and protection for faithful Latter-day Saints."—Elder David A. Bednar
"The first great decision made on earth was Adam's decision to leave the Garden of Eden. In doing so he essentially left his Father to cleave to his wife. Given the choice of Eden or Eve, the paradise or the person, he chose Eve. He chose the person."—S. Michael Wilcox
"The purposes of Relief Society, as determined by the Lord, are to help us increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help those who are in need. That's why Relief Society exists. The outcome is that we will improve women individually and as a whole and thus prepare for eternal life."—Julie B. Beck
"May each of us live our life in such a way so as to be known for tender, kind, refined, faithful, good, virtuous, and pure. In this way we will have demonstrated that choice to forgo being considered women of the world."—Ann M. Dibb
"Even though we may not see from minute to minute that we are moving forward and making progress, I believe we will be able to one day look back at our lives and see that we were, in fact, doing just what we needed to be doing at just the right time in just the right place."—Virginia H. Pearce
The talks contained in this treasury show the benefit of taking Alma's advice and focusing on the "small and simple things" of the gospel; steady, daily progress through small and simple acts of faith that garner great rewards in our Father's kingdom.
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 192
- Released: 02/2012
About the Author
Patience: Key to Happiness
Is there a connection between patience and happiness? We hear certain sayings all the time: “Patience is a virtue”; “He has the patience of Job”; “She has the patience of a saint.” Yes, patience is a term we are all familiar with. It’s something we all have to some degree. And I dare say it’s something we have all struggled with at certain times in our lives.
Some of us are really good at practicing patience, and some of us are really bad at it. But the truth is we are not going to get out of this life without learning something about patience. Those who learn to make it a positive part of their lives will be happier in all areas than those who don’t.
From personal experience I believe there is a very real connection between patience and happiness. On the surface, that may seem like an oxymoron. How can we be happy if we are always waiting for something?
First let me make a distinction here—I don’t believe being patient means just waiting. Patience also involves a lot of hard work. It includes working toward a favorable outcome.
“The dictionary definition of patience is to be undisturbed by obstacles, delays, or failures, to be able to bear strain and stress, to be persevering, and the ability to exercise forbearance under provocation.”1
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf tells us, “Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!”2
So how do we find happiness while exercising patience? When the foundations of the Church were being laid in this dispensation, Joseph Smith and the elders who were working with him to organize the Church were given a number of revelations because Heavenly Father knew they were going to need help in getting the Church established.
One of those revelations was given in February 1829 through the Prophet to his father and is recorded in Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It starts with the declaration that “a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.” And then goes on to say: “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; and faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen” (D&C 4:1, 4–6; emphasis added).
In today’s world of uncertainty, pressures, strains, and tribulation, patience is a very essential virtue. In 2 Timothy 4:2, those who preach and/or teach are given charge to do so with “all longsuffering [patience]” (emphasis added). This makes me think of mothers, who are the teachers of their children, and the patience that they exhibit. Patience comes easier when you think about God’s timing rather than your own. It also comes easier knowing that it is through our trials that we can develop patience.
When some situation tries your patience, have a laugh over it, and it will seem less burdensome. God has a great sense of timing so it helps to be in tune with Him. When you practice spirituality it can help you develop patience—it’s like you’re exercising your patience muscles, you’re adjusting your inner antennae.
When you look at a problem with your spiritual eyes it helps you to have a more balanced perspective and feel contentment as you work your way to a conclusion. You won’t want mere relief of your anxiety or instant results; you’ll want the matter resolved in as positive and correct a way as possible because you will see the eternal perspective instead of just dealing with things “in the moment of trial.”
Every part of our lives is or will be touched by a need for patience. In other words, patience is a very real part of everything we do in this life, and perhaps in the hereafter as well. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord tells us to “let the work of my temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you, be continued on and not cease; and let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward” (D&C 127:4; emphasis added). This tells us that qualities necessary for success in the Lord’s service (and I might add in our personal everyday lives) include faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, and patience. And when we do our work well we will be rewarded.
Let’s identify areas that require our patience:
• Think about prayer—patience is a key part of prayer. We, who demand instant responses, have to deal with the truth that any answer will come on God’s schedule, not ours.
• As little children, we are at the mercy of others for all of our needs. We wait to have a diaper changed, or to eat, or to go to bed. As we get a little older, we must learn to exercise patience in developing skills like walking and talking and learning our lessons.
• As a teenager, we learn to exercise patience as we are trying to turn our awkward self into an attractive adult, crossing the threshold from childhood into adulthood.
• We exercise patience in dating and looking for a mate.
• As an adult, we have to exercise patience with our spouse and our children as we shape and develop our eternal families.
• As a mother or father, we practice exercising patience while trying to juggle all the responsibilities of home and family and a career.
• As a grandparent, we are good at exercising patience with grandchildren.
• As a senior, we exercise patience with old age and infirmities and loneliness.
• In the Church, we exercise patience while developing a testimony, often leaning on someone else’s while doing so.
• As a gardener, we have to wait for our crops to grow.
• As a teacher, we wait for our students to comprehend their lessons.
• As a neighbor, we practice patience in developing friendships or putting up with an unruly animal next door.
• In our politics we wait for the next group of leaders to appear to correct the mistakes of the last group.
• If we have a broken bone, we wait for healing.
• We wait for the seasons to change, for the snow to fall or the trees to blossom, for the birds to return and sing their songs.
• We wait for night to turn to day.
• To lose weight, we wait for the diet to work.
• When we correspond with someone, we wait for their response.
• We wait for things to improve in our difficult lives.
• We wait for a paycheck or a raise.
If we were inclined to do so, we could go on waiting until our life ended—the key is that we could just wait—but then again, waiting is not the same as being patient.
Patience requires action. The common denominator in all these things on our list is that they require action, work, effort, or growth to make them happen. If we merely wait, nothing happens. Developing patience requires that we work to make things happen.
The Lord, Jesus Christ, is our perfect example of patience. Though absolutely unyielding in adherence to the truth, He exemplified patience repeatedly during His mortal ministry.
He was patient with His disciples, despite their lack of faith and their slowness to recognize and understand His divine mission. He was patient with the multitudes as they pressed about Him, with the woman taken in sin, with those who sought His healing power, and with the little children. Finally, He remained patient through the sufferings of His mock trials and His crucifixion.
While being patient, He taught. While being patient, He showed us how to serve, and how to perfect ourselves. He showed us how to do His work. The Savior taught us to “continue in patience until ye are perfected” (D&C 67:13).
A certain amount of impatience may be useful to stimulate and motivate us to action, but most often a lack of patience is a major cause of the difficulties and unhappiness in the world today.
Too often, we are impatient with ourselves, our family members, and our friends. Sometimes we are even impatient with the Lord. We want what we want right now, regardless of whether we have earned it, whether it would be good for us, or whether it is right. Some of us want instant gratification or instant material wealth even if it comes through questionable investments or by dishonesty and with little or no regard for the consequences.
Being patient might be more difficult right now than at any other time in our history. Certainly the electronic age has made everything so readily available that waiting can be excruciating. I watched as my son was waiting for a site to load on his computer. Not more than ten seconds had passed when he said, “This is so slow!” When I commented on the absurdity of a ten-second time frame being slow, he said, “But I could be doing something else with my time.”
Filling our time up with so many commitments can make us impatient and injure our chance to enjoy the fruits of our labors. It would be good to learn to be patient with ourselves. To recognize our strengths and our weaknesses, we should strive to use good judgment in all of our choices and decisions, to make good use of every opportunity, and to do our best in every task we undertake.
We should avoid becoming discouraged when we are doing the best we can even if it isn’t as good as what someone else might do. We should be satisfied with our progress even though it may come slowly at times. Elder Richard L. Evans said, “There seems to be little evidence that the Creator of the universe was ever in a hurry. Everywhere, on this bounteous and beautiful earth, and to the farthest reaches of the firmament, there is evidence of patient purpose and planning and working and waiting.”3
Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, “We do not have to worry about the patience of God, because he is the personification of patience.”4
Adel Bestavros wrote, “Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith.”5
In my life I have had many opportunities to learn and practice patience. Sometimes it has felt like I was pulling on the reins of a runaway horse and it was all I could do to regain control of my life. At other times it seemed like I was pulling and couldn’t get anyone to move forward and make progress. I didn’t seem to be able to get the result I wanted when I wanted it.
I’d like to tell you some of the things that have taught me patience and brought me happiness. When Larry and I were dating it seemed to me that six years was a long enough courtship. He didn’t seem to be able to think in terms of what the future held, so marriage was not on his radar.
That required that I take matters into my own hands—so I proposed to him. We were married for forty-four years. After we had been married for several years we found ourselves in debt because of some major medical bills with the children. Instead of getting discouraged, we went to work and concentrated on getting out of debt, which brought us great peace of mind.
Unfortunately this caused another problem—he was away a lot. He started working ninety hours a week and it seemed like we never had time with each other. I had to be creative to find ways to spend time together and let him be with the kids and them with him, so I decided I would gather the children up and take them to work to see him a couple of times a week, go to dinner, and then go home. It wasn’t easy but it worked. I learned patience by fixing the problem where I had control.
Another area where I learned patience was with our children. Some of our children had a rebellious streak, to put it mildly. Patience, love, and understanding were big helps in this area. I decided that if I couldn’t change them I would learn to accept them for who I knew they were—children of God. I would try to have faith that they would come through their difficult times and love them in spite of their rebelliousness. A lot of prayer was thrown into the mix as well. I didn’t get instant results, but my patience finally paid off—I consider them my pride and joy.
All five of my children and their spouses and three married grandchildren will be able to go to the temple together for the first time in forty-five years. It took a lot of trusting patience and hard work to get to this point, but I can tell you that it was worth the effort. My feelings of happiness are overwhelming.
Just recently, I have acquired a new dog to keep me company since I am now an empty nester. Her name is Fezi. She is seven and a half years old and fully trained. I could see instantly that someone had a lot of patience to train her. She is very well-behaved and I am grateful for the effort that went into teaching her to be obedient. Since I haven’t ever had a dog before, I hope Fezi will be patient with me.
One of my most recent experiences with patience was during Larry’s illness. There were so many times when patience was the only thing that could get me through the day. Once he was out of the hospital, it seemed like all day, every day, was an endless round of doctor visits, treatments, physical therapy, shots, and making sure correct medications were given in the correct doses, all while trying to meet each other’s emotional needs and struggling to maintain a household, do the laundry, and make nutritious meals.
Because of my eternal perspective and understanding that this life is but a moment and then all things will be made whole, I could endure what I was going through and try to help him to endure what he was going through as well. I was able to exercise patience because it was important for me to know I had done everything I could to make life good for him to the end without having any regrets. I have peace and contentment about our time together.
To develop patience and make it a positive force in our lives we need to carefully plan our activities and set realistic goals and objectives. Sound planning requires meditation, patience, and prayer. When patience is coupled with repentance, a changing of one’s attitude, a controlling of one’s temper, or some other action that corrects our behavior like prayer, faith, and works, we can overcome many kinds of obstacles.
Patience is closely related to persevering, and persevering means work—both mental and physical. When things are going well, people are inclined to overlook the importance of patience and then become impatient. It’s easy to overextend oneself physically, mentally, financially, or in many other ways.
The Lord has told us, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength” (D&C 10:4). When we exercise patience we won’t be inclined to run faster or labor more than our strength will allow us. Many of us want to take on big tasks before we are ready for them.
Elder Franklin D. Richards once said, “Survey large fields but cultivate small ones.”6 If we can concentrate on the task at hand while planning for growth, we are exercising patience—and patience is essential to progress. Don’t expect too much too soon. Make the most of what you have. Practice exercising patience when you want to buy a new home, a new car, new furniture, or other important things. Get out of debt and stay out of debt. If you can practice patience in these things, it will reward you with peace of mind, happiness, and success.
One of the most important things Larry and I did was to get out of debt early in our marriage and never buy on credit again. If we couldn’t afford it, we didn’t need it until we could afford to pay cash. In that way we were able to plan for the future and be ready when the time came to go into business for ourselves. It’s a good idea for a young person to plan and patiently prepare for a mission, for an education, and a vocation or profession.
Faith and patience are vital in the accomplishment of these objectives. When dating and courting, be patient in the selection of a husband or wife. Prepare for a temple marriage. Your patience will be rewarded with eternal blessings.
Having patience with our family members and loved ones can be difficult at times but it is the one area where we should have the most patience. I used to tell my children, “You need to treat your brothers and sister like they were your best friends, because they are going to be with you forever, but the friend down the street to whom you are so nice may one day move away. So be just as nice—or more so—to your family as you are to your friends.”
Patience and perseverance in Church work also pays tremendous dividends. In D&C 64:33, the Lord told Joseph Smith and the elders of the Church to “be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”
Missionary work would certainly fall into that category. It requires patience, love, and longsuffering. President Dieter F. Uctdorf said, “Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
“Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace.”7
Never give up on anyone. And that includes not giving up on yourself. The children of Israel waited forty years in the wilderness before they could enter the promised land. Jacob waited seven long years for Rachel. The Jews waited seventy years in Babylon before they could return to rebuild the temple. The Nephites waited for a sign of Christ’s birth, even knowing that if the sign did not come, they would perish. Joseph Smith’s trials in Liberty Jail caused even the prophet of God to wonder, “How long?” (see D&C 121).
Every one of us is called to wait in his or her own way. We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30; D&C 98:12). In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.
Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.
Sometimes as we are going through our difficult times we don’t realize that our most valuable tool and the one we need the most is patience. It can be very hard to “be still” and hear the promptings and direction available to us when we are in the heat of our trials. Cultivate patience. Patience is an eternal virtue. Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be happy. Patience is the key to happiness.
Gail Miller is the chairman of the advisory board of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. She is a graduate of West High School in Salt Lake City and attended the University of Utah. She and her husband lived in Colorado from 1970 to 1979. They then returned to Salt Lake City to start their own business, which has grown from one auto dealership to a consortium that includes over forty auto dealerships, several movie complexes, KJZZ Television, the Utah Jazz basketball team, a world-class racetrack, and a number of charitable organizations, including the Larry and Gail Miller Family Foundation. She and Larry are the parents of five children and have twenty-four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.