God Isn't Testing You

May 07, 2017

While we were in the celestial room of the St. George Temple last weekend, Zach had a prompting to go to the connected sealing room. He didn't know why, but he felt it strongly. So we went!

"Ok...now what"
"He said 'Wait'."

So we sat there.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Every few minutes, I'd ask Zach if we should stay or go. The answer was always the same. "Wait."  Normally, I'd be pretty annoyed and impatient having to sit around without explanation, but the thought crossed my mind:

"I don't care if we have to sit here all day until the temple closes. I will do whatever He wants. I can wait. I can be patient."

And guess what? Nothing happened. No grand visions, no running into friends, no one in need, etc. We sat there in silence waiting for at least 30-40 minutes and nothing happened. Eventually, we got the answer to leave, so we packed up and made our way back to the car.

We talked at length about what happened, trying to find a purpose. Was it real? Were we fooling ourselves into feeling something that wasn't there? Looking for a reason, Zach suggested "Maybe God was just testing our patience." From there, we spiraled down a rabbit hole of pondering:

God wasn't testing our patience. We throw that phrase around often and I don't know why. God doesn't "test" us. He knows us perfectly - He knows our strengths & weaknesses and our capacity. He knows exactly how patient I can be at this stage of my life. He knows how obedient I can be.

God doesn't test us to find out what we're going to do. He knew exactly what Abraham would choose when told to sacrifice Isaac. He knew our choices before we entered this mortal life. We often teach that we came to earth to be tested, but I think that's an inaccurate oversimplification. God isn't eagerly waiting to see if we're going to get an A, B, C, D, F, on the next "test" He throws our way. (Spoiler alert, there aren't even grades, but that's another topic...)

If God isn't testing us, then what in the heck is He doing?

God knows me perfectly, but I don't know me perfectly. These experiences that stretch our patience (or really any challenge), teach us about ourselves more than it teaches God about us. Before this random weird experience, I didn't know I would be willing to patiently wait in the temple all day if that's what it took. I didn't know I would wait without complaining or doubting.

God knew that, but I didn't know that.

These challenges allow us to "practice" these virtues & resiliency. If we can progressively learn and improve our Christlike qualities, then we will be far better prepared for the larger storms that inevitably come. This faithful resiliency is hugely important and can only come after repeated practice of Christlike attributes.

Is He testing my patience? No, He's giving me a chance to practice my patience. No grades here, just a chance to improve and really learn what my capacity is at this moment.

After 29 years, I have learned a few things about myself. I can endure a hard childhood. I can recover from assault. I can find a religion, see the truth, and face my commitment fears enough to join. I can move 3000 miles away and excel at a rigorous college. I can survive without a dad. I can flourish working against deadlines. I can apologize & make amends. I can fail and fall short and still be forgiven. I can choose to live when everything in me wants to die.

Without the challenges of mortality, I would not know these things about myself. I would have ZERO idea of my capacity and spiritual resiliency. Now, I draw on past experiences to help me get through the next challenge. When faced with a fear or obstacle, I recall what I've done before and mentally repeat "I can do hard things." God always knew I could do hard things, but I didn't always know it.

We still don't know for sure why we went into that sealing room to wait for so long, but I'm inclined to think He asked us to do that just so I could learn a little more about myself, my patience, and the true purpose of challenges.

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2 thoughts

  1. I love the term faithful resiliency. It feels like I have been in the waiting period my whole life. I am past 30 and I am still single. I am not complaining about my singleness. I got busy building my career and volunteered in my community. Then, He required me to move to the other side of the world and started over from scratch. Is this His way of saying that He wants my whole heart for Him? I don't know and I don't understand fully, but I am learning to keep my trust in Him.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Herlina! I believe strongly that God always has the best in store for us and sometimes that means we have to wait a bit for Him to give us those great blessings. I think it's so impressive that you moved and started over - such great faith!