On the one hand, there's nothing tastier than an avocado in a salad, or a burrito, or an omelet... I could go on, but the point is that I've never met an avocado recipe I didn't like.
The problem is that avocados take their sweet time to ripen, and it's usually not in time for the meal I planned to use them in. And patience is not my strong suit.
Our world has become so instant that I start to get the shakes if the ad before my YouTube video goes on for more than 8 seconds. Email is too slow so we text each other. I recently read that Millennials aren't even eating cereal because it takes too long.
I guess I'm not the only one with a patience deficit.
Maybe that's why a particular talk in the last General Conference called "Fourth Floor, Last Door" stuck out to me so much.
In this talk, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf tells the story of two missionaries who felt a spiritual prompting to go knock on doors in a certain four-story apartment building in Germany, looking for someone to share their message with.
When everybody on the first floor told them they weren't interested, they could have turned around and said "Well, we tried."
But they went on to the second floor and then the third... where they were rejected as soundly as they were on the first.
In fact, nobody was willing to listen to them until they reached the very last door on the fourth floor, where there lived a mom and her little girl.
That was the story of President Uchtdorf's wife's introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons,) but it has special application to all of us. He reminds us all that:
“In our search for enduring faith, in our quest to connect with God and His purposes, let us remember the Lord's promise: 'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you' (Matthew 7: 7.)
Will we give up after knocking on a door or two? A floor or two?
Or will we keep seeking until we have reached the fourth floor, last door?”
Prayer, at its simplest, is a way of knocking at God's door. Sometimes His response might be instantaneous and unmistakable, but more often (at least for me,) it's a gradual process.
If I keep praying and don't give up, over the coming weeks and months and sometimes years I'll feel Him answering me, bit by bit and piece by piece.
Even though it can be frustrating, I think that works better for me than getting it all at once, lightning bolt-style. The things I value most are the things I have to work for. Or, as Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own put it, "the 'hard' is what makes it great." (Love that movie.)
Developing true faith requires patience and diligence. Sometimes we may have to knock for a while before receiving an answer to a heartfelt prayer. Until we get that answer, we have to go on the faith we've got already, and try not to get discouraged or give up.
That's easy to say, not so easy to do.
It's easy to get frustrated with ourselves or even with God when we don't feel we're experiencing Him as closely as we'd like to. But I think that on the whole, we can be too hard on ourselves.
It's okay to have questions, to struggle with doubts, or to feel that our faith has room for improvement.
If we had all the answers then what would we do with the rest of our lives, anyway? God sent us here to learn to have faith in Him, and I think He knew we wouldn't become perfect at it overnight.
Having patience with ourselves and the Lord's timing isn't easy. But I like to think of myself (and all of us, really) as unripe avocados.
If you Google it, there are dozens of so-called methods to get an avocado to ripen faster, and they're all lies. (I know, I've tried them.) The only thing that works is setting them out on your kitchen counter and letting the natural process take its course.
It takes time to get answers to prayers and to build a testimony (that's what Mormons call a spiritual witness from the Holy Spirit.) So let's be patient with ourselves and let the Lord do His thing to help us ripen.
President Uchtdorf says: "God 'rewards those who earnestly seek him' (Hebrews 11: 6,) but that reward is not usually behind the first door. So we need to keep knocking."
Simply put, God's not done with us yet, so let's not give up on Him!
A version of this post was first given as a Sunday lesson at my church this past weekend. To find out why I was teaching anything to a room full of women who are probably smarter than me, see this article.