Monday, June 23, 2014

Perfection


 "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect."- 2 Nephi 12:48


I reflected on that statement once in a personal study during my mission. Be ye perfect. My mind began to swirl with questions and thoughts- PERFECTION- what exactly does it mean?

We live in a world that appears to be racing to find perfection. We see magazines that are photoshopped to an eyelash curve, athletes that explode in the media for one dropped ball, elaborate plans to insure a student's 4.0  GPA, and movie heroes with unaffected emotions despite intensified affliction.
But is perfection really about an apparent flawlessness? 

We are told to look to the Savior in the quest for perfection, so I began to reflect upon His perfection. Two major aspects of his life stood out to me during this process: one in regards to his emotional perfection and another in regards to his physical perfection:

Emotional Perfection 
Christ's atonement was infinite and eternal and I think it's safe to assume- Perfect. It had to be. However, as I thought about this perfect moment in the Garden of Gethsemane when He suffered for all mankind, I remembered an angel.
Luke 22:
 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.


Yes, Christ technically had to accomplish the atonement alone. Another could not do it. Yet, in this time of incomprehensible pain, in this perfect moment, He still accepted the comfort and strength of an angel.
Not only that, but he also asked for support from others. "Could ye not stay with me one hour?" he asks Peter.
I, myself, struggle with this. I often feel like in order to do things right, I have to do it alone. I sometimes feel that I'm lacking something if I have to accept or ask the help of another. 
Perfection has nothing to do with a rejection of help. In fact, it involves quite the opposite. The Savior, perfect as He was, was not just a perfect gift giver, but also a perfect gift receiver. To be perfect, does not mean we need to turn away assistance to face the world alone. Rather, to be perfect, we know perfectly when to accept the comfort and even at times to ask for the comfort of another.

Garden of Gethsemane
“An Angel Comforting Jesus 
Before his Arrest in 
the Garden of Gethsemane” 
by Carl Heinrich Bloch, circa 1870s
public domain

Physical Perfection

We are often taught that after the resurrection, our bodies will be perfect. Not even a hair on our heads will be lost. When thinking about this, people often imagine a magazine-worthy body. They imagine smooth skin, frizz-less hair and Vitruvian Man proportions. Sounds pretty great to me.
But then why, when Christ was resurrected, did the scars in his hands, feet and side, remain?
The more I thought about this, the more clear it seemed (at least to me) that Christ was perfect through those scars. Those scars were a result of the sacrifice He made for mankind. Through his life, including those final moments, He was perfect.

I thought about my far-from-perfect life. I have a v-shaped scar on my knee from when I went to Fiji to build septic tanks for a village. I have another scar on the top of my foot from the time I flew out to help my uncle with my cousin who struggles with Autism. In the right lighting, I can sometimes see the outline of a hoof on my arm from being stepped on by a cow in Iceland while milking in the early hours of the morning so that the dad of the family could sleep in. Unlike Christ, these scars are not representations of a perfected life, but I do appreciate the reminders of the amazing opportunities God has given me to serve His children.

One of my mission companions now has a scar on her thumb from when she was bit by a dog while preaching the gospel. She was told that this scar would forever remind her of the time she voluntarily sacrificed a year and a half of her life in the service of God.

I wonder if we too will keep these scars eternally.




The root of the word used for "perfect" in the scriptures is actually Telios.This could also be translated to mean "complete". Our lives are completed through the giving and receiving of comfort and service.

It is not in the glamour of magazines that we find perfection, nor is it found in intense emotional persistence. Rather, perfection is found in lives lived with love and in a humble realization that we need comfort and assistance in this life.
It is Christ-like charity and sweet submission that will scar our lives to perfection.
So be ye therefore perfect.
Love Always,
Michelle

1 comment:

  1. Thank You, Michelle for sharing you insights. You are an inspiration and I feel blessed to claim you as my granddaughter. Love You. I have learned something important today.

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