I remembered recently that when I was a teenager, my dad told me that another translation of the Hebrew word from whence that term "perfect" comes is "whole" or "complete". As I pondered Christmas this year, that thought kept coming back to me over and over again: whole. I think we've had a lot of feelings of inadequacy, incompleteness at our house this year, trying to figure out how to patch all the holes.
The promise of Christmas is a promise of perfection, of wholeness. The first Christmas was anything but "perfect" as most new mothers would define it--giving birth in a barn, days from home, with little support. The first Christmas was painful, bloody and exhausting. But from that discomfort came a perfect, new little life. The bookend to that life was filled with anguish, blood and exhaustion. But from that blood and anguish came a path to perfection for the rest of us, as incomplete as we now are.
What does a promise of wholeness mean to you? As I talked this evening with my 83-year-old diabetic grandmother who has leukemia and congestive heart failure, I pondered what the promise of wholeness means to her. I thought of a very dear, far away friend, facing the huge daily challenges of raising a profoundly autistic daughter, and pondered what the promise of wholeness must mean to her. I thought of other loved ones who suffer from difficult, and sometimes debilitating, chemical or structural imbalances and pondered what the promise of perfection means to them.
The imperfections in body, mind and spirit are not so obvious with everyone. Some people are good enough at hiding the thin patches that few besides the Savior even know that they're there. But he does know. He knows the fatigue of the supermom who is more tired than she dare tell anyone. He knows the hidden sorrow of the parent who watches their child drift through life, directionless and unfulfilled. He knows the loneliness of the widowed grandparent who isn't sure whether they want to stay or go.
He knows you. He loves you. He can patch the holes. That was the promise given to the world that first Christmas: a Savior who will love you no matter what, who knows you through and through and will bring you comfort and joy, even or especially when you don't know where to find it yourself. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He'll fill in the holes as we work our way through this life--helping us to carry the burdens we cannot carry ourselves, giving us that encompassing, eternal comfort that does not exist apart from him--and someday, through the power of the Atonement, making us completely whole and perfect in ourselves, so that through Him we can gain all that He hath and be His joint heirs in our Father's kingdom.
We have a Father who loves us, who offered His one perfect son as a ransom for our sins and transgressions that we might be made whole and return to Him. How could we refuse such a gift? All he asks in return is a broken heart and contrite spirit--a humble willingness to forsake our sins and follow him. A small price to pay for eternal joy.
His law is love and His gospel is peace. In knowing that, sleep in heavenly peace. Much love and a very merry Christmas.