“Mom, can we open the presents yet?”
It may have be the 28th time my 6-year-old son asked me, but it felt more like the millionth.
He was beyond excited to open his Christmas gifts. He couldn’t believe how amazing Christmas is — getting gifts and the amazing spirit of the holiday season. Could you imagine if we just left the presents under the tree and never opened them? Or maybe just opened one and walked away?
Receiving our gifts is an important part of gift giving. The giver of the gifts has the joy of knowing you have received the gifts they have acquired for you and are making use of and enjoying them. This holiday season, let us reflect upon the gifts the savior has given us.
Prophet and President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently highlighted four gifts which we have been given by our savior to all that choose to receive them.
First, he gave you and me an unlimited capacity to love. That includes the capacity to love the unlovable and those who not only do not love you but presently persecute and despitefully use — most certainly a softening of our hearts — as we are tutored by the savior on how to really take care of each other. Ask for the lord’s help to love those he needs you to love, including those for whom it is not always easy to feel affection. You may even want to ask God for his angels to walk with you where you presently do not want to tread.
A second gift the savior offers you is the ability to forgive. Through his infinite atonement, you can forgive those who have hurt you and who may never accept responsibility for their cruelty to you. It is usually easy to forgive one who sincerely and humbly seeks your forgiveness. But the savior will grant you the ability to forgive anyone who has mistreated you in any way. Then their hurtful acts can no longer canker your soul.
A third gift from the savior is that of repentance. This gift is not always well misunderstood. It comes from the Greek word metanoeo, the prefix meta which means “change” and the suffix noeo relates to a Greek word that means “mind.” It also relates to other Greek words that mean knowledge, spirit and breath.
Can we begin to see the breadth and depth of what the lord is giving to us when he offers us the gift to repent? He invites us to change our minds, our knowledge, our spirit, even our breathing. For example, when we repent, we breathe with gratitude to God, who lends us breath from day to day. Then we desire to us that breath in serving him and his children. Repentance is a resplendent gift. It is a process never to be feared. It is a gift for us to receive with joy and to use — even embrace — day after day as we seek to become more like our savior.
A fourth gift from our savior is actually a promise — a promise of life everlasting. This does not mean simply living for a really, really long time. Everyone will live forever after death and will be resurrected and experience immortality. But eternal life is so much more than a designation of time. When the father offers us everlasting life, he is saying in essence, “If you choose to follow my son — if your desire is really to become more like him — then in time you will inherit all that the father has.”
These four unique gifts will bring us more and more joy as we accept them. Let us not leave them unused like unopened presents under a Christmas tree. We need to receive these gifts offered to us so unwillingly by Jesus Christ so we can love as he love, forgive as he forgives, repent to become more like him and ultimately live with him and our heavenly father. It is the way to true joy in this life and eternal life beyond.
• Jacqueline Tupou is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.