I feel like the words “the most” are always associated with family. They are the people you love the most and also the people who drive you the most crazy. Family usually signifies the most meaningful relationships in a person’s life and also represent the most opportunities for racking up sin points.

Living at home for the past month has been an educational experience in the above. I’ve never been more grateful for time with my family after spending a few months on the road. But after two years of living alone in Rochester and 10 weeks solo on the highways and byways of America, I’ve found that I’m a little rusty when it comes to Living at Home 101. In fact, nothing points a big flashing neon sign toward my true nature quite like living in community. It’s such an annoying litmus test.

I start each day with the best of intentions. Intentions that tend to pop up on stitched pillows or rectangular Hallmark cards: I’m going to be loving, kind, generous, compassionate, and any other pre-coffee adjectives I can conjure up. And then BAM. Buttons get pushed. Frustrations arise. Someone who shall remain nameless goes for the world record in consecutive hours spent humming. And I turn into a she-beast.

No matter how hard I try, I’m always going to fail at perfection. I’m going to snap at my parents. Tell a white lie. Swear like a sailor on leave during the 4th quarter of Packers games. Covet everything contained within the four walls of Anthropologie. Basically, I’m going to be human. Because humans are sinners. And sinners needs saviors.

To some, this may seem extreme. Lots of people would say I’m in the clear because everybody’s human and I’m a good person. But it really is a problem. Because the fact is that my innate, imperfect humanness, no matter how trivial, is the very thing that separates me from a perfect God. Irreconcilable differences of an eternal sort.

And then BAM. Jesus.

Jesus shows up in the manger on Christmas morning, lives a life of love on earth, dies a death that I deserve, overcomes death by rising again, and becomes the bridge to reconciliation with God. Jesus is the lens through which God sees me. Through him, I’m not the punk who contemplates Grand Theft Fashion in Anthropologie. I’m not even the nice person who tries really hard to do the right thing 99% of the time (because 1% of the time, I’m road-raging on purpose). Through Jesus I’m the redeemed soul, the one able to have a permanent relationship with God because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

This message often gets forgotten in packed parking lots and mile long checkout lines. It’s hidden in Christmas carols that are sandwiched between Feliz Navidad and used car commercials. Sometimes it even gets lost behind layers of well-meaning theology. But it’s really as simple as it seems. It’s so accessible that it can be summed up in one sentence:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

(John 3:16)

To anyone who may be reading this – lifelong friends and other blogaholics and complete strangers – I really hope you experience that love today. It’s the best Christmas present imaginable: you’ll always need it, you’ll never deplete it, and all you have to do is receive it.

I hope you do.