Several years ago when I was ward choir director I was walking around my house, singing as I practiced conducting the songs for our next Christmas program. It was only October but I wanted to be well-prepared when I introduced the musical numbers to the choir the following week. One of the numbers I had selected for the program was, “Were You There?” It’s a touching song, full of questions which inspire reflection on the Savior’s birth and His mission of love.
As I began practicing this song I wandered into my office waving my arms to the music. Just as I sang the words, “Were you there to behold when the wonder foretold came to earth,” I happened to glance up at a picture on my wall which depicts Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane. At that moment the Spirit clearly whispered, “This is the wonder foretold—Christ fulfilling His divine mission of the atonement!” Tears sprang to my eyes and a feeling of overwhelming gratitude swelled within me.
I gazed at the picture, immersed in His love, awed by His ability to perform the requirements of His atoning sacrifice. “But how could He ever do it?” I queried softly, my mind struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible.
Suddenly my thoughts ran to another question—a question surely born of my tendency toward perfectionism. “And why am I so pathetically weak?”
The sense of awe instantly vanished and I sank to my knees feeling hopelessly inadequate. A longing to be like Christ surged within me, but I was keenly aware of my desire to avoid any serious pain. How could I ever match His amazing example?
Despair and self-doubt beckoned, but before they had a chance to carry my thoughts down their dark path the Spirit invited me to consider a truer perspective. “You don’t have to fulfill Christ’s mission. You have your own mission to fulfill. Be patient with yourself and focus on the divine mission God has designed for you.”
My heart again swelled with love and gratitude as I pondered this new insight. Remaining on my knees, I offered a joyous prayer, expressing my thanks to God for this beautiful early Christmas present. I knew it would serve me well.
Many Christmases have come and gone since that day, and many Christmas gifts have long been forgotten, but this precious gift remains in my heart. Though it didn’t come wrapped in festive paper, it continues to remind me that each of us has our own unique gifts to offer, and that we can follow Christ’s example by freely sharing our gifts with each other just as He shares His atoning gift with all mankind.