After closing for the day, I was halfway through cleaning the shop when the vacuum cleaner broke. I stood still, paralyzed by fear. I was terrified my boss would interpret a broken vacuum cleaner as proof of my imperfection.
Instead, that lovely Christian woman looked confused. She tilted her head and asked why I was crying over an old appliance. I tried to explain but my words were illogical. More questions. More blubbering. Her eyes softened as the questions changed.
“Nicole, do you think you can be perfect?”
“But only one Person was ever perfect.”
“Do you think you can be perfect, completely sinless, like Jesus?”
I wanted desperately to be less of an unlovable sinner and more like Jesus. I thought trying to be perfect would get me closer. It never occurred to me that it was impossible to be perfect and that God loved me in my imperfection. Young Nicole needed a stern reprimand that perfectionism isn’t a godly goal.
God used my boss to reveal a love that overwhelmed me and began destroying my inner perfectionist. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). God knows we are imperfect and still He loves us. He doesn’t wait for a magical day in the future when we are less sinful and more lovable to shower His love and grace over us. He loves us just as we are today.
As a recovering perfectionist, a rich understanding of God’s grace has been freeing. It has taught me that Jesus would smile if dirty dishes were left on the counter but the kids got an extra snuggle before bed. He would laugh if I left all the lights on because a friend texted for help pronto and I left in a hurry to get to her. And I think He would rejoice if I ignored my email inbox because a verse caused me to see Him differently, and I wanted to sit in wonder awhile.
Sometimes, adult Nicole needs a stern reminder of God’s love just as much as young Nicole did. And, perhaps, you do too.