Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Problem with Avocados (A Spiritual Lesson in Patience)

I have a love-hate relationship with avocados.

On the one hand, there's nothing tastier than an avocado in a salad, or a burrito, or an omelet... 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.

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 developing true faith requires patience and diligence.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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, 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 Latter-day Saints 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.

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AnneMarie said...

I love this!!! I am a huge fan of weird analogies for the spiritual life, so this is right up my alley. I really think it's cool how you point out that if we had all the answers RIGHT NOW, it probably wouldn't be that good for us. We're such silly humans at times.

I also have a love-hate relationship with avocados-it is so hard to plan meals that involve them because you never know when they'll be ready! A while back, my husband's workplace was having a potluck lunch, and my husband signed up to bring guac, since it's delicious, inexpensive, and easy-to-make. So he bought TONS of avocados at the store and we put them out to ripen on the counter, so that they'd be at the perfect stage for him to make it the night before. Well. As you can guess, they had barely ripened a smidge, so he was off to the store at like 10:30 p.m. to buy avocados that were very ripened to make his dish. Of course, later that week the first avocados ripened, so we were eating guacamole for days.

The Lady Okie said...

I have tried to ripen an avocado faster and it totally failed, so I feel your pain. I love this: If we had all the answers then what would we do with the rest of our lives, anyway? so true!

Unknown said...

Loved loved that talk. It's the one I chose for v.t. this month. The other problem with avocados is that all the sudden they are overripe. Still love them. Mom

PurpleSlob said...

This is a terrific spiritual lesson! Thanks, Jenny!

Jenny Evans said...

Yes, I don't think I'll ever forget your "hobbit/monk" analogy from your blog!

Avocados are so tricky. Not ripe yet, not yet, not yet, not yettttttttt.... too late!