While searching for acceptance, I made a startling revelation about how Christ lived perfectly in the absence of love.
It was Jesus Christ’s perfection that I clung to as I studied the scriptures throughout my high school years. I wanted to know every detail of Christ’s life, to unravel how this being embodied something that so often seems so unattainable. I thought that just maybe—if I truly understood and mirrored every facet of the Savior’s perfection—I could gain the acceptance and love that I craved from all those around me.
In studying Christ’s life, this simple but clear thought came to me: Christ was perfect. But he was not loved by all.
In fact, Christ was far from receiving universal love, which is something The Living Christ makes clear. It proclaims how the Savior “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) yet was despised for it. He was spit upon, mocked, beaten, and eventually crucified.
This new perspective on the Savior suddenly freed me from so much of my inner torment about acceptance: if Christ didn’t need to be loved by everyone, I didn’t either. Of course, Christ loved others with completeness, a heavenly goal we should strive for each day, but I realized that the return of that love is not a prerequisite for perfection.
This realization means that I don’t need to let others’ opinions of me be the determining factor in how I live. Additionally, it means that even without every human being’s approval, I can still grow closer to becoming like Christ. I will never stop following Christ’s footsteps of service and selfless love, but I do not need to think that I am any less if that love is unreciprocated.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles beautifully sums up my realization in his address “None Were with Him.” He counsels, “May we stand by Jesus Christ ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,’ for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.” Christ showed perfection, even when he was completely alone. I, too, can stand by his side, even without receiving perfect love from others.
Source: April 2009 General Conference
FEATURE IMAGE BY BEN WHITE
—Sophia Szilagyi, Mormon Insights Contributor
Read The Living Christ for a moving reflection on the Savior’s life on earth.