What is your favorite marshmallow treat? Is it little marshmallows in hot chocolate, marshmallow in cereal (you know, like Lucky Charms; red moons, yellow starts, and green shamrocks), or marshmallows toasted over yams. What about marshmallow sauce on strawberries or on an ice cream sundae? Then there is the glorious See’s Candy Scotch-mallows with chocolate, caramel, and marshmallow. What about Samores with its toasted marshmallow laid on a half of a Hershey bar, caressed between two gram crackers? How about golden-brown, lightly toasted marshmallow over a camp fire? Wow, all so wonderful and fun and delicious and delightful…they are all favorites!
Who can resist this fluffy white confection? (Ok, maybe you are one of the few who can resist marshmallows, so ok, but feel with the rest of us and read on). Well, knowing that not that many people can push away from this sweet a few researchers from Stanford University put some kids to a test. They placed a big white fluffy marshmallow in front of a child whose eyes widened, and every expression said I want it and want it NOW! Yet the researcher said if they would wait until an adult came back they could have two marshmallows! The child was left alone as the researcher watched through a hidden window.
You can imagine what happened next. Some kids squirmed in their chairs wanting so bad to eat the marshmallow. Some sniffed it, some licked it, some ate it, some petted it like a soft stuffed animal, and some waited. Now though the kids antics and behaviors were entertaining, this was not the purpose of the research. That came later as they followed these kids for years. Their findings are quite interesting.
They found that the kids who waited had scored better on SATs, did better in school, had more meaningful relationships, landed great jobs, and had a greater sense of peace, love, and happiness. It appeared to these researchers that waiting and learning to wait, or patience and perseverance are key elements to a successful and meaningful life.
As I learned about this study I was reminded of a few Bible verses:
Isaiah 40:30-31 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 40:1-2 I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
James 5:11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
It seems God knew long ago that waiting and learning to wait is a key to life, and patience and perseverance are important life lessons. We would do well to continue to practice them, for there are always ‘marshmallow’ type things before us that if we would just wait it would be better. For much of the time God is in the wait, it is part of the journey. Waiting builds strength, trust, perseverance, and peace. It can’t happen if we are not willing to wait.
Now the tough reality of patience and perseverance is that the best way to learn them is to practice them! So, push away from that marshmallow and wait! Something better is coming and it will last longer than the brief pleasure of not waiting. Read again Isaiah 40:30-31.
Who knew you could learn a life lesson from a marshmallow?!
Learning to Wait Alongside You,