If you had told me that last night would be when I'd have this chance, I wouldn't have wanted to believe it. For want of a better description, I imagined if this particular blessing ever came to me, it would be when I was spiritually strong and healthy, not when I was struggling and recovering from quite a bit of personal failure in my life.
Geez Paradox, isn't that weird to you?
No, not really. It's nothing compared to what it'll be like to be judged by Christ. As far as I'm concerned, I'm just practicing.
But this experience has weighed upon my mind. What are the odds that my roommate would be unable to give away her voucher to anyone except me, and the night I go is when he happens to be there? What are the odds that I receive one of the blessings I want most during one of the times I am in spiritual recovery and don't really deserve it?
What are the odds that I receive that blessing not because I "deserve" it, not because I want it, but because I need it?
Truth be told, I believe that my meeting Elder Holland that night under those circumstances was no accident, no random chance. Heavenly Father knows exactly what it means to me, and why I wanted to thank Elder Holland for what I could never put into words--especially not in that setting.
The more I see of God's hand in my life, the more I see that it's impossible for me to deserve in mortality anything He gives me. Sure, I may be obedient to the best of my ability, but I am never going to deserve the greatest blessing He can bestow, the blessing He desires to give me, and will give me if He has His way. And if I ever do receive the immortality and eternal life that are Christ's goals with my life, how could I ever thank Him, or my Heavenly Father?
How do you thank someone who looks at you, day after day, as weak as you are, as much as you fail, as much as you struggle to learn, and the only commandment He asks for you never to break is the one where He tells you to "Try again." And even when He doesn't say it with a smile, He never yells or loses His patience with me. Even when I deserve it. Even when I yelled at Him first.
The words of King Benjamin in Mosiah 2 resound again in my soul:
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
My efforts and my gratitude may never compare to what my Savior has given me. That's OK. When He told me to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" in Matthew 5: 48, He wasn't demanding for me deliver on my eternal potential in mortality. He doesn't even expect me to deliver on my current potential consistently.
We need to understand what Christ was really saying there. If we can't, literally CAN'T be perfect in an instant, Christ wouldn't command us to do it. Obviously He intends for us to be perfected over time. And if we're to be perfected over time, and we're to be perfect like our Father in Heaven, obviously He was perfected over time too.
If both the Father of our spirits and the Redeemer of our souls had need to grow, obviously we will too.
Some people look upon that as one the most blasphemous thoughts in my religion. Personally, I find it to be the greatest comfort imaginable. Suddenly, God isn't someone waiting to beat me or bless me after my one lifetime of stumbling and struggling with the fact that I'm human. He's a patient Father who knows the way because He's lived it before. He's a testimony to me of my possibility for perfection.
In essence, He gives me hope I don't deserve right now because deserving it was never the point. If I deserved it, it wouldn't be hope.