I had just spent three years in graduate school while working full time as a nonprofit executive director. I was burned out, worn out, and stressed out. With my thesis defended and diploma in hand, I couldn't help but wonder why I was filled with such dread. The residue of the anti-climatic gravitational pull on my emotions, perhaps? I shrugged it off and continued with my postgraduate plan-world domination. (Juuuust kidding!) So I hit the proverbial pavement, uploaded my resume with my shiny new degree (and even shinier student loan payment), and landed interview after interview.
One thing I learned about myself during my years running a nonprofit while attending graduate school was that my ambivert personality was well suited to work remotely. With each interview, follow up, second interview, (wash, rinse, repeat) a feeling of uneasiness began to well up in me. The more I thought about giving up freedom and flexibility, time with my new husband, building the behind the scenes systems and processes in his (our) business, and being available to serve in church ministries, I began to pray. "God, I want to contribute emotionally, spiritually and financially to my home, but I'm just not sure it's going to come through me working a full time nine to five." Gulp. Did I just pray that?
I've always been one to root for the underdog. I'm a sucker for a success story. You too? See, I knew we had something in common. I believe that we can live an abundant life, a life of virtue while experiencing joy, peace, and wealth, Lord willing. Like many of you, I've spent the majority of my life working for others, and since I'm being transparent here, to please others. Can you relate? Initially, I took great pride in making others successful. It was a testament to my hard work and loyalty. Yet even after a job well done, at times I found myself walking away in frustration, thinking that success is for everyone else and not me.
No matter how hard I worked, I still couldn't break the glass ceiling, even those that were self-imposed. Honestly, I was sick and tired of working 50-70 hours a week and barely getting by. I wanted the freedom to go after the life that God had for me. To serve God in a way that would please Him, and to have the freedom, finances, and courage to show up fully present. Although I was always willing (most of the time), I was just so stressed out. I eventually realized my frustrations were not rooted in what was happening to me. My frustrations were rooted in how I was responding to what was happening to me. (That's worth reading again-just FYI). I thank God for those sweet moments of quiet time, journaling and much reflection that unveiled the root of my frustration. I wasn't pursuing what I was meant to be and have: a virtuous woman leading a virtuous life. I was more like a scattered, frustrated, overly stressed out, anxious woman leading an oh so messy life.
From the outside looking in, I had it together but I was like a walking time bomb. I wanted the freedom to go after the experiences, dreams, and life that God had for me. Have you ever tried walking up the down escalator? If I stand still, I'm going down. If I take extra steps or faster steps, I'm going up yes, but still going down. Well, that's how I felt. And then it hit me. I was going in circles, repeating the same mistakes over and over, self-sabotaging because secretly, I wasn't brave enough to just go for it. I was so inundated with the present circumstances that I just couldn't fit in one more thing. Literally. I can't believe I'm saying this out loud but it's the truth. So through much prayer, journaling, and more journaling, I spent months and months working on my mindest. If I wanted what God wanted for my life, then I knew that putting together a plan and strategy to get unstuck would put me on the path to lead my most virtuous life ever. Can I tell you how freeing it is to walk upright before God, going confidently in the direction of His purpose? I want that for you too sweet friend.
It's no wonder scripture informs us to renew our minds. Are you frustrated, worried or overwhelmed with your life, career, family, marriage, money, kids, aging parents or any combination of the above? Romans 12: 2 tells us to, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will". Remember what I said earlier? "I eventually realized my frustrations were not rooted in what was happening to me. My frustrations were rooted in how I was responding to what was happening to me." See, I did say it was worth repeating, right?
On my journey to becoming an accidental entrepreneur, I discovered three important things that I want to share with you:
I've been inspired by many entrepreneurs, particularly women, who have a desire to connect faith and business. Maybe you're a stay at home mom with littles, and snapping photos of your adorably cute kids has renewed your passion in photography. You're thinking, "maybe just maybe I could turn this into a side hustle". Or you're a soon to be empty nester, you've amassed a ton of work experience, a healthy little nest egg and now the only calendar you keep is yours. It's open for you to fill in whatever you can dream. Way to level up and redefine the retirement game! Or maybe you were like me, burning the candle at both ends and the middle. A one parent-one income household, working full time, in school part to full time, serving in church, and taking care of aging parents, putting each and everything first not having the energy to take care of yourself, yet still raising your hand to be on the committee. Can I get an amen? (Or more like a "shaking my head back and forth" emoji).
My aha moment of clarity was my Holy Spirit confirmation that character development is not just for our personal lives but for our business lives too! As entrepreneurs (and I know you're out there), we represent our business. We are the face of our business. How would you feel if you found out that the founder of a company didn't use the products that they sell others? You'd probably think, "You're selling me something that you wouldn't use yourself. I'm outta here" I wouldn't blame you one bit sis. Moving on.
If I could sow this seed into every woman, fly auntie, mother, mom-mom, sister, daughter, cousin, grandmother, or even great-grandmother, it would be this: our identity is in "I AM", not our education, social status, designer bags, shoes, or cars, social media likes, hashtags, insta-stories, followers, our job status or security clearance, etc. I could go on and on. Come on, we've all been there. I'm raising my hand right now because I've fallen many times into the comparison trap thinking I'm not good enough or better than. Both are unhealthy mindsets. You know what worked for me? I had to show myself compassion. I had to ask myself, "Hmmm. how is that thought serving you right now?" Then I chose to forgive myself and forgive others. If you are striving to live a virtuous life, allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit. He's a true leader and a truth leader.
Did I not say that today it's from the heart? I'm so glad you allowed me to share a really vulnerable part of my story. Trust me, I've got a few more stories in me, and I'm thinking you have a few yourself. Well, I'd love to hear from you. This is a safe place where we can show up, ask questions, get answers, drop in comments, connect, grow, and encourage one another to lead our most virtuous life.
PS: Grab your free Inspirational Phone Wallpaper above. I created these just for you. I know how hard you're doing all the things. Breeeeaathe. Enjoy these beautifully designs to get you through those challenging moments, and to remind us that God is with us.