Spiritual Thoughts

Staring at the Marshmallow

It’s soft and fluffy- practically made of pure sugar and when toasted over a fire becomes the ooey-gooey deliousness that makes up the best part of a s’more.

What child can resist a marshmallow?

The puffy little edible clouds call to almost every kid, beckoning to them so they can partake of their heavenly sweetness.

Be it the recently purchased bag of marshmallows from the store or the little colored (not so puffy) marshmallows found in cereal boxes, children have a knack of eating every marshmallow in their surrounding environment.

Which brings us to the earlier question.

What child can resist a marshmallow?

The Marshmallow Experiment

You may be familiar of the experiment conducted in 1960s which tested a group of preschoolers to see if they could wait to eat a marshmallow for 15 minutes.

The experiment consisted of placing a marshmallow in front of a child.

The child was told if they didn’t eat the marshmallow for a certain amount of time that they would be able to eventually eat it and have an extra one as a reward for their obedience.

After the instructions were given the researcher left the room and observed the child from a two way mirror, they could see the child but the child couldn’t see the researcher.

As you may expect, once the child thought they were alone it didn’t take long for many children to shove the whole marshmallow in their mouth and act surprised when the researcher asked where the marshmallow went when they returned.

Some children tried to exercise restraint, but sometime during the allotted time the temptation was too much and they eventually succumbed to eating the marshmallow.

Although many children’s will power didn’t sustain them during the experiment, 30 percent of the children waited patiently and were rewarded.

The researchers continued to keep tabs on the children throughout their growing years and noticed that the children who were unable to exercise restraint struggled with many emotional and social issues as they got older, while those who did exercise restraint had the emotional skills to be happy and successful.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Continue In Patience Talk

In his April 2010 conference talk, then President Uchtdorf referred to this experiment and how it pertains to patience.

He said:

From that experience, I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen—patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn’t appear instantly or without effort.

There is an important concept here: 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!”

-Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Continue in Patience

“Patience (is) far more than simply waiting for something to happen.”

This is the concept I would like to talk about.

Patience Isn’t Only About Waiting

In my church calling (responsibility within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), I am privileged to meet with a group of sisters as we discuss how to find healing through the power and atonement of Jesus Christ.

One week, our discussion focused on the principal of patience.

For those who have been hurt through a family member or friend’s actions and are continually pained as they watch their dear ones continue on their destructive paths, it can be very painful.

Despite countless prayers and efforts, it is still difficult for loved ones to watch and wait for the day that circumstances, attitudes, behaviors, or relationships will change for them or their loved one.

It was at this point where we began discussing Elder Uchtdorf’s talk.

“It’s so hard,” one sister would say, “Staring at something that is so close, so doable, but in the end you have no control over it. Your goal and dream is just sitting there, taunting you because you can’t reach it and never know if you will in this life.”

Then the following question was posed.

“Do you think it would have been so hard for the children to resist the marshmallow had there been coloring books or toys left in the room with them?”

“If there were some good, wholesome diversion that would have kept the children busy and their minds off the marshmallow, don’t you think the time between the trial and the reward would have gone by quicker.”

“The marshmallow would have still been there, the timeframe of the test wouldn’t have changed, but the marshmallow would no longer be the sole object of their attention.”

In the 13th Article of Faith we read:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

13th Article of Faith

The Lord doesn’t want us to be miserable, as we read in 2nd Nephi 2:25, the Lord reassures us that “Men are that they might have joy.”

During the times of trial, it is important that we seek after “anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy.”

When faced with adversity or trials, it is important to do what we can do, but to realize that ultimately we can’t do or control everything and that we need to turn over the uncertainty to the Lord.

Instead of focusing on the problem, find good things to surround yourself in such as service, self improvement, strengthening your relationship with the Lord and learning how to hear His voice.

Hobbies that uplift and gladden your heart are gifts from the Lord, talents that are for you to use to bring happiness in your life.

The trial that you are going through will still be there, but do not waste the precious moments you have in this life in worry.

Worry is not the purpose of life, so don’t sacrifice possible moments of happiness and joy to it.

Worry doesn’t fix a problem nor does it make it go away, it just robs you of the peace of mind of the moment.

Stop focusing on the marshmallow but discover ways to find joy in the present.

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