A friend of mine shared an experience his wife had with their daughter a few Christmases ago. She sat down with the young child to help her write a letter to Santa. The mother began writing: “Dear Santa, this year I have been…”
She paused and turned to the little girl to ask whether she had been naughty or nice. At first, the child wasn’t sure how to respond. After thinking for a moment, she insightfully replied, “Just say that I was happy!”
The lesson this wise little one expressed through her response to a tough question is one that we learn in Healing Through Christ. Step Five reminds us that “even though we have made mistakes, we are still precious children of a loving Heavenly Father.”1 Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, through repentance, we can overcome the sorrow of our errors, and we can feel happy.
Our failures in life are part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us. He sent us here to grow, and mistakes teach us powerful lessons. He doesn’t shame us when we make a wrong choice, and we don’t need to do that to ourselves. We are not bad people. Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “You are a child of God. He is the Father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!”2
Although Santa Claus might deny gifts to those who have been naughty, our Heavenly Father wants to give us many gifts. We only have to be willing to receive them. He does not require perfection. His gifts come when we choose to turn to Jesus Christ and invite His healing grace into our lives. His gifts bring joy and peace.
Instead of thinking about yourself in terms of “naughty or nice,” consider whether or not you are feeling the joy that comes from placing Christ at the center of your life. If not, you can ask Heavenly Father for help. He wants you to be happy, and He will lead you there if you put your trust in Him and faithfully follow His guidance. If you make more mistakes along the way, just keep trying. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminded us, “God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are, and with His help, where you are willing to go…every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith and repentance and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”3
1 Healing Through Christ – Help, Hope, and Healing for those who have a loved one in addiction, 51
2 Boyd K. Packer, “To Young Women and Men,” Ensign, May 1989
3 Jeffrey R. Holland, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” BYU Devotional, Jan 2009