—the people, the miracles, my daily doses of failure. I am grateful every day for the opportunities I had to wake up and do hard things even when I was terrified or exhausted. I'm grateful for the ridiculous stories and unbelievable experiences. And I'm grateful for the beautiful people that God put in my path, because they changed me.
In the past year, I've learned about my relationship with the Savior and what he has done for me. But today I wanted to share two experiences that really touched me. The first happened at girls camp this summer; I went to help out mom as a camp leader (although a lot of the girls just thought I was another camper; turns out I look 16 years old). During one activity, we had sentences written out, and they filled in the blanks with their answers. One sentence was, "Because of Jesus Christ, I am _______." These young girls' answers revealed incredible spiritual depth: brave, alive, whole, talented, saved, loved. One girl's answer has stuck with me ever since:
"Because of Jesus Christ, I am needed."
One of my greatest fears is the feeling of helplessness: when someone I care about is struggling, and I can't do anything about it; when my skill set is just not enough; or when I'm too tired or weak to make a difference. Since being home, I've struggled with those feelings. But that 14-year-old girl had it right. Because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins and shortcomings, he made salvation possible. He could help each one of us on his own; he could perform miracles and do it all himself. But he knows that, by using us to fulfill his purposes, we can learn charity and become strong. And so he chooses to need us. He gives us opportunities to make a difference, to help others. Isn't that the best kind of person? The kind who makes those around them feel needed, useful, essential?
"And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."
And soon I saw those worshipers in each person at the exhibit—there was the widow, the fatherless, the sinner, the tired, the lonely, the skeptic. All were seeking Christ, and all had burdens to lay at his feet. I reflected on my tendency to judge, to think unkind things, and I realized that everyone at some point is suffering, alone, and heavy-laden. They are all at various stages in their journey toward healing, toward their Savior.
Even those who have hurt me or my loved ones need healing, and I must seek to forgive them and allow them to move forward. If I hold on to their past mistakes, I am denying them the opportunity to change—I am dismissing the Savior's ability to help them. As I looked back at the painting, I saw the Savior looking back at me, with his arms outstretched. He seemed to be saying, "Will you let them come?" And then, "Will you come?"
During this Christmas season, I've thought a lot about healing. Heaven knows I need it! I've made some real dumb mistakes in the past 365 days, and based on current trends, it's safe to say I'll be making a bunch more in the foreseeable future. And so we celebrate his birth and his life, because he came to save "with healing in his wings."