When you’re young and naive and you are first reading this book, it sounds like encouragement! It looks like Dr. Seuss is telling you all the great things you have ahead of you, and what an exciting journey it is! Then, you grow up and get a little more experience, and you realize that Dr. Seuss is actually warning you about reality. He warns about the times when you’ll fail, times when you’re lost, times when you will have to wait on something before you can progress. He talks of loneliness and disappointment, trials and weakness. And you realize then, he is really talking about real life, and we can only hope that our story really does end well. At least Dr. Seuss is optimistic in the end.
The waiting place is where nothing is happening, and all you can do is wait. And wait…and wait…and wait. It feels like we’re always waiting for something. What a terrible place. Is there nothing to be done to get out of this place? I feel very familiar with this place…like my second home.
The waiting place makes you feel self-absorbed, self-conscious, helpless, discouraged, impatient, and doubtful. What is to be done? Have I been forgotten here?
In The Book of Mormon we read about a people who can only wait. The people of Alma become enslaved by the Lamanites and the people of Amulon, a wicked man and former priest of King Noah (check out the book of Mosiah to learn about the history of this people). Under the reign of Amulon, the people of Alma were laden with tasks, and were forbidden to pray aloud. However, they continued to pray in their hearts. In answer to their prayer, the Lord told them this:
“Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:13-15).
Notice that the Lord did not immediately relieve the people of their burdens. Instead, He gave them the capacity to bear their burdens with ease, and to continue “cheerfully and with patience” to submit to God’s will. They probably would have faithfully waited for the Lord to deliver them from bondage for as long as they needed to, and He would deliver them as long as they were faithful.
I always remember this scripture from my first year at EFY (Especially for Youth, like youth summer camp for a week) the year it was “Joy in the Journey”:
“Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (Doctrine and Covenants 100:12).
We are never left alone. When we are feeling trapped in the waiting place, the best thing we can do is to improve our attitudes, turn ourselves outward to serve others, and be better disciples of Christ.
“We Can Find Happiness”: http://www.lds.org/plan/we-can-find-happiness?lang=eng
“You Matter to Him” by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/you-matter-to-him?lang=eng
Mosiah chapters 2 through 4: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah?lang=eng
“The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality” by Elder David A. Bednar: http://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/04/the-atonement-and-the-journey-of-mortality?lang=eng&query=atonement+journey+mortality
“Mountains to Climb” by President Henry B. Eyring: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/05/mountains-to-climb?lang=eng#footnote2-10405_000_010
“Forget Me Not” by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf: http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/general-relief-society-meeting/2011/09/forget-me-not?lang=eng