I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas music. I love to fill my home with festive music of all kinds (pop, gospel, classical, oldies—especially “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey—you HAVE to have a dance party whenever that song comes on). It’s merry and cheery and creates a nostalgic atmosphere. But every once in a while, Christmas music strikes a bad note with me. It can be gaudy and pretentious and insincere. Other times though, I find it wonderfully apt. For example this line, “Heaven only knows that packages and bows can never heal a hurting human soul.” I like the comparison it gives between the material traditions of Christmastime and the true spirit of Christ.
Something that I believe about the Savior is that He is the only one who can heal our souls.
When everything else fails, He will not fail us.
I believe that. I believe in Christ.
When I was in high school, I took religion classes early in the morning before school. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a Seminary curriculum for high school aged kids and I attended my Seminary classes at 6AM. During the course of that study I decided to prayerfully read the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the intention of gaining a stronger belief in the Savior. I wanted my own spiritual confirmation in His life and works. I prayed about my objective. I prayed that God would fill my heart with a testimony of the Savior.
As I read about the life of the Savior, I gradually felt understanding settle on my heart. Some days I was moved to tears by the scriptural account of His life. The selfless, loving service that the Savior gave was awe-inspiring. I gained a sense of His goodness, His sincerity, His love for all men. I felt that I came to know Him through those pages. I came to know that He shows compassion and love at every turn. Also, I felt something more. I felt a warmth in my heart and a promise of things greater than myself, greater than what can be seen with our eyes. I knew that God had answered my prayer for a testimony of the Savior.
Since that first experience, I have prayed with faith in Christ. My faith has led me to other testimony strengthening experiences. In my early twenties, I learned that Christ gives us forgiveness freely when we show Him that we are willing to keep the commandments. Before, I had thought that we needed to sort of earn forgiveness through our actions before Christ would be willing to grant us forgiveness. However, I came to know that we can never qualify for God’s blessings through our obedience alone, who of us deserves all the blessings we receive from the Lord? We can’t earn salvation, even though we need do all that we can do to be worthy. Ultimately, it is the Savior’s crowning joy that He can stand in for us and freely give us that which He has bought with a price. I learned that Christ will forgive us because He CAN forgive us. It is His gift to give. I had to adjust my thinking to understand His higher way and allow myself to receive that gift.
He doesn’t forgive us because we deserve it. He forgives us because He knows we’re trying and He loves us so dearly.
Listen to the words of the Savior as He described the forgiveness that comes through Him: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
“Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:13–14).
This is my testimony; The Savior is willing to forgive all who come unto Him, not because we merit it, but because He knows when our hearts are true and He has perfect compassion for us. As another Christmas song states, “Sweet are these strains of redeeming love, Message of mercy from heav’n above. Glory to God in the highest; Peace on earth, goodwill to men!”