Last December, during a busy, bustling day, I was cooking a tripled batch of chili to go in my freezer to feed the pleasant droves of family members who would be visiting in the weeks ahead. One of my favorite Christmas songs took its’ turn on my playlist and for the first time, a line of lyrics struck me into breathless wonder.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
It was the last line that etched itself across my mind. I had spent the season stringing fairy lights and freezing mint chocolate cookies. I searched for and bought the nearly, sold-out Max Tow Trucks that would thrill my boys and paid too much for a doll that looked just like Lydia. I had been productive and hardworking and on the outside everything looked ready for Instapproval.
But had my soul felt its worth?
In a season made to honor my Savior who was born to make my life worth living, was I seeing my worth through the lens of the world? It’s so easy to be distracted from the spiritual in a culture where gift-wrapping can look like an abstract art exhibit and exterior lighting is literally a competition. Of course none of these Christmas traditions are innately bad but when my spirit was starving to feel its’ true worth at the expense of temporal satiation, I longed to re-connect to the source of eternal nourishment.
While so many people are pining for the truth of their purpose on earth, I feel so blessed to know of our Savior’s mission and Atonement and the unconditional worth it brings to our souls. That worth stands complete and infinite in the face of failed fondant, uncoordinated pajamas, and musical numbers that fall flat. It’s a concept that frees us from the lie of “The Perfect Christmas,” and inspires us to become perfected in Christ.
If we set aside some earthly excess, we give ourselves time for the eternal. With that time we can pray, read Truest Words, stop and listen, then write. In these soft moments we can receive personal truth and motivation. Our hearts can be softened and our wills changed so we want what He wants for us. We can catch glimpses of ourselves through God’s eyes, allowing our souls to feel a portion of their price.
By refusing to act out of the need to please or compete and move forward with the purpose of God in our hearts we can be empowered to create far greater change with everlasting impact. Instead of mourning over the party we didn’t get invited to, we can seek out lonely friends and remind them how important they are. Rather than throwing away a less-than-perfect batch of cookies, we can keep them for ourselves and give the very best ones to those who hunger the most. And perhaps, instead of spending the night scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush before the company comes, we can head out with our kids in the snow and record the sound of their young laughter on our hearts. Finding out about our true worth doesn’t mean we don’t continue to do the things we love, but it does mean our underlying motivation to do them comes from the right source.
When we understand our real value, we can bake away for the hungry, decorate our homes with symbols of The First Christmas and buy gifts that show our children how much we know and love them. But it won’t be in an attempt to fill a black hole of self-doubt or buffer feelings of inadequacy because we’ll understand that Christ already repaired every last empty space. Instead, we’ll act out of kindness and charity because we enjoy the closeness it brings us to our Savior. And that is exactly how we feel the true worth of our souls.