It can be so hard to grapple with the fact that in our fallen, flawed state, we are still the representatives of the only man who ever walked out this messy, complicated life perfectly. For all of my shortcomings, I’m meant to be his disciple, a witness for him.

Um—HOW?!

There have been many times where I’ve felt unworthy to represent Christ in any way before I get my affairs in order. Thus began the long, grueling effort of trying to clean up my act so I could start serving him. The problem was that while I was trying to attain some level of inward and outward perfection to qualify for service to my Savior, I was neglecting every commission he gave me in the meantime.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been there: feeling like you heave to achieve a certain mark of “goodness” before you will be “good enough” to serve God and Christ.

But here’s the thing—and I love this quote: “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

Moses was slow of speech.

Paul had rap sheet that included murder.

So did David.

Thomas doubted.

Peter denied.

Jonah fled.

Esther feared.

And yet God worked with every single one of them. He helped them walk deeper into the light, away from whatever darkness held them back. They all continued to sin—in some cases, they made life-changing mess-ups even after they accepted God’s commission.

The point is not that we can only serve God once we are cleansed to perfection. It’s that in working closely with Him, as 1 Corinthians 3:9 says we must, we become cleaner. Our fallen state and shortcomings are not something that should prevent us from working for our Maker. We should run all the harder toward Him because of them, bringing those rough edges for filing—knowing that in doing His work, we are doing well, and that He wants us as we are.

The longing for perfection—something God does not demand from us in this life, but which we still seem to demand of ourselves—is one of the biggest enemies to achieving the true will of God. In the words of renowned photographer Ansel Adams, “To require perfection is to invite paralysis.” And similarly, from author Neil Gaiman: “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

I would add to that: keep moving toward God. Even broken, even hurting, even struggling, He wants to work with us now, and He wants us to attain greater and greater levels of understanding, healing, and wholeness as we bask in the light of His perfect love.

It starts with a step. It starts with accepting the call. It starts with surrendering our imperfect selves to God’s perfect will, so that the next step in our journey of growth can begin.