"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
Lord, thank you for dying for me and saving me. Thank you for showing your love through your death and resurrection. Thank you for not asking me to be perfect before having a relationship with you. Help me to love and forgive myself, yet give me the grace to desire holiness. I trust in your mercy, that you will make me a saint because you know my weakness and you love me. I am little and sinful, and I need you to lift me up to the heights of holiness! Amen.
We come full circle from the first post on gratitude to talk once more about perfection. And for good reason.
As we cultivate gratitude in our hearts, it becomes easier to see the beauty of imperfection. In a way, that's the whole point. Gratitude is hard specifically because we encounter uncertainty and imperfection every day, and we don't like it. It's hard to be thankful for it.
But the point of God's love is that he died for us while we were still sinners. He wants to be with us while we're still figuring out life. He wants a relationship with us while we're still learning how to pray. The amazing thing about the Christian God is that His love is so great for us, He doesn't demand anything in return but our hearts. He humbly became man, entered our humanity, and came face-to-face with our imperfection simply because He loves us in our weakness, just as we are. He desires perfect union with us, but he doesn't desire that we be anything we're not. We are gardens with gorgeous flowers, and there are also weeds. But He doesn't want us to use the weed wacker before feeling worthy of His presence - He'd rather enter into our hearts and take care of those pesky weeds Himself. What a God.
In fact, our imperfection is what moved His heart so much that He became the Word incarnate. And therefore it is precisely this imperfection for which we should be thankful. As the saints proclaim and as we repeat at the Easter Vigil Mass, oh happy fault which gained for us so great a redeemer! The sin of Adam and Eve brought more good for humanity through Jesus Christ than ever would have come had they stayed innocent. Let us learn to be grateful for our imperfection because, like St. Therese said, if we weren't so small and little in our ability to love, Jesus wouldn't need to come down and pick us up, bringing us to his Sacred Heart.
Scripture is sometimes confusing with this whole perfection thing though. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, "You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." How is that possible? The original word for "perfect" is actually teleios, which means something slightly different than how we usually interpret "perfect" in English. Its meaning is more similar to fulfilling the function for which it was made, such as a hammer being used to drive nails and build things or a lamp being used to provide light. In other words, we are called to fulfill who God made us to be so that we may enjoy eternal life with Him!
So let us express gratitude in spite of our imperfections and pray that one day we can learn how to be grateful for our imperfection. After all, "where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more" (Romans 5:20). By this grace of God, any garden can be made beautiful.