This season. Whoa. This first year of full-time entrepreneurship has been full of blessings. I've met and exceeded goals, supported myself financially, built beautiful relationships, attended workshops, and opened a full-time studio and workspace. Somewhere in the midst of all the striving, however, this season managed to illuminate some of my biggest fears and insecurities. I've run on an empty tank, faced near depletion, hustled (in the negative sense of the word) and tried to squeeze too much into too little time. And then there's the guilt. Who am I to complain about my own emotions and feelings, and really anything, when I've experienced so many blessings? How dare I be anything but joyful as I've been permitted to make a living doing something I love?
If I'm perfectly honest, however, I feel like I have made sacrifices. Like all small business owners (or anyone who cares deeply about his or her work), I have made time and material sacrifices. But here, I'm talking about mental sacrifices. Sometimes my mind is so fixated on a certain project--an email I didn't return, a mistake that I made, a deadline that's a day behind, a bill that I need to pay--that I can't fall asleep. I wake up and I'm still thinking about that thing, whatever it is. It's the first thing on my mind when I wake up and start the day. These things that inhabit mental space are not the "wins" that I've experienced; I never seem to lose sleep or mental energy over the joys, of which there have been many. My mind's propensity to feel shame and insecurity, to dwell on mistakes, to overanalyze the things I say and do--this is what captures my attention.
At times, I feel God opening doors and creating a path before me to run wildly forward in pursuit of my aspirations. At other times, I feel God urging me to take a step back, to take on less, to do less, to work less, to strive less, to pursue less. I hear God pushing me to define myself differently.
It's hard to even write these words now. It's hard to admit the darkest parts of ourselves when we want to project the "highlight reel" image of ourselves, particularly to those we don't know.
But I'm in the midst of Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect, and the Lord is using it to open my eyes to just how much time I devote to speaking negatively to myself. It’s a powerful book, friends, and I strongly recommend that you get your hands on it if you can relate in any way to what I’m sharing.
I am certain of very few things, but this is one of them: God wrote my story so that I could share it. Most of my closest friends are among the only people to know that I didn’t become a Christian until I was 26 years old and in a deep, deep valley. My business emerged at the exact same time as my faith, and I believe my story is meant to be shared and used more widely than I’ve made it available.
For that reason, I am committed to using my blog to share parts of my own testimony more frequently, along with practical business-related knowledge that will hopefully support others in the pursuit of dreams similar to mine.
For now, I want to leave you with encouragement, regardless of whether or not you are a believer, because the word of God is healing. Even before I was a Christian, I would look to a select few verses in the Bible, remind myself of them, and find comfort—without really knowing why.
I pray if you are in a valley, in a season of “not enough,” in a season of mental sacrifice, of struggle, or any other challenge, that you replace your negative thoughts with these words. Say them aloud, write them in a notebook and surround them with flowers, sing them, say them to a friend—whatever it takes to internalize them to the point where they begin to change your thoughts, which can in turn, change your feelings. Whether or not you've ever fully believed it, you are deeply loved and you have never been alone.
1) Isaiah 43:1-2
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
2) Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
3) Zechariah 13:9
I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’
4) Psalm 139
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
5) Exodus 14:13
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”