My husband and I came home from church last Sunday waxed slick with the Spirit. We sank into our couch deeply satisfied and curled up on each other. Oliver remarked how great it was to see one of our friends that radiates light.
“I don’t get it,” I mused. “He is earnest about the Gospel, but he’s earnest in a way that leaves people wanting more. I’m earnest, but I’m earnest in a way that has people sprinting for the nearest exit. I frighten and overwhelm people.”
After a thoughtful pause Oliver said, “That’s because he’s focused on the joy of the Gospel. You’re more focused on details.”
My brain worked this over like a cow with a particularly large cud. He’s right. Oliver isn’t a member of my church so I don’t often hear these insightful religious nuggets from him.
As soon as I processed the implications my first thought was: that’s not fair. I sat upright and extricated myself from Oliver’s arms. “But the Gospel makes me happy, too. Why can’t I be filled with the joy of the Gospel?”
He smiled softly because this situation is new to neither of us: me wishing I were different. Or perfect. Or closer to perfect. Or at least a different flavor of imperfect. It’s like variations on a theme; composers may come out with different arrangements, but the tune remains familiar.
I prayed (read: agonized) about this for the rest of the week and lost sleep while very earnestly wishing to be different than I am. I learned this:
When we have children, we do not get to pick and choose the aspects of their personalities, like rims or seat warmers on a new car. All we can do is perform the act of conception and love whatever comes out nine months later. In the same way, our Heavenly Father does not custom design our spirits. He simply creates us, and by some law of the universe, every being must have some good mixed with bad.
Every being except one: Christ. For some reason it is necessary for there to be one perfectly unblemished child so that the rest of us can enjoy this mixture of good and bad.
I’ve always thought of this backwards, feeling sorry for myself every time I measure how far away I am from perfect. But this is the gift of Christ: my opportunity to be human. Fallible. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed making a mistake while I’m making it, but I love learning from them. Jesus never had that opportunity because he was never able to make a mistake. He was never even able to WANT to make a mistake. He was only allowed righteous desires. He did not get to binge-watch Battlestar Galactica. He would never quote an obscure episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in ordinary conversation.
But I get to. And these are experiences and aspects of me that I treasure.
Because Jesus is perfect, He has to be universally accessible. It is a fantastic thing that we can all access Christ’s atonement, but it also means that He does not get to be particularly special to anyone. That is the birthright of God’s imperfect children. I will never have any inside jokes with Jesus. I will never have any Instagram pictures of Jesus trying to lift a weeks worth of trash — which I do have of my husband, and particularly endears him to me.
I am done wanting to be different. Thank you, Jesus, for being perfect so that I don’t have to be. I am going to enjoy my strengths, my eccentricities, my weaknesses and my mistakes. I will learn and I will grow and I will probably always be mired in details.