Have you ever been in a situation where everything was going great, and then out of nowhere, you get thrown a curveball? Work going well, relationship wonderful, and house in order…then BOOM…your boss writes you up for what feels like nothing, your significant other walks out and your house needs more repairs in one week than it needed in 1 year. Instead of screaming, “Lord, why me?! What did I do wrong?” think, “Lord what are You trying to tell me?” Sometimes God uses these difficult situations to shake us out of our complacency. Maybe you know the relationship you’re in isn’t the healthiest, but you don’t know how to leave; or you feel the urge to move from your current location but are scared because of the economy. You could even be like me: feeling stuck and praying for a breakthrough only to get frustrated when it happens. Let me step back a bit to help you understand…
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. From the ages of 6 to 13 my friends and I had several side businesses. From selling candy to greeting cards to friendship bracelets to even bags of sugared Kool-Aid, we did it all. I wasn’t always about the business though. When I wasn’t selling, I made a point to tutor my friends, volunteer around the neighborhood and be of service where needed. This trend continued through high school and college. I tried working for a small business directly after college where the boss was a micromanager. It DID NOT work at all. I ended up quitting and went off to technical school. Yes, I already had a BA, but this place was teaching me web and graphic design skills. I also kept volunteering. Though I’d walked away from small business in college, I started back up again after the technical school program flopped. I went straight into technology consulting. I also kept my ties with the nonprofit community by writing grants and programming ideas. I loved it all, well everything except the unsteady paycheck and minimal health benefits. 🙂 Still, my business was gaining clients and I felt things were right.
Then I got an inkling. Actually it was more so God helping me with my next move. His message of “Go back to school” was heard loud and clear. I saw everything fall into place: money, apartment, GMAT test prep, counseling, etc. I listened, and God made it happen. I know you may be thinking, “Why get an MBA? Isn’t that for the corporate finance type folks?” Well, that’s true, but it can also be for people who realize that it’s best to learn how to run a business from people who have done it. I learned a lot, but I’ll admit I lost focus. It started as I was preparing for business school and learning where many MBA graduates went to work after graduation. No one pressured me to join corporate America, but I was exposed. J Then came the internship process between 1st and 2nd year of school. Instead of focusing on my own business, I decided to interview for a corporation. I thought, “Hmmm…why not? It can’t hurt.” Little did I know? 🙂 I had a great summer and fell in love with the corporation’s message, people and ideals. I thought it was unlike any of the crazy stories I’d heard of places that would suck you dry and work you to death. No, this would be different. I got invited to come back full-time and accepted the offer. Life was good: new house, new car, suburban neighborhood, good at work, good schools for the kids…heck, we even got a dog! In the midst of this “good life,” I forgot who I was. God told me to go to school so I could learn as much as I could. Then I’d take that knowledge and apply it to my own business that would help others and bring them closer to Him. That’s also why I came to corporate America. As I said, what better way to learn about running a business than by working for a million dollar one? I came in with that objective. I was even encouraged to take trainings, try new things on projects and become a better person. I still worked on my technology consulting business in the background.
Then a shift happened. People at work transitioned, and then I transitioned, too – but in a different way. I spent most of my waking hours worried about work – how could I do more, how could I show that I was smarter, how could I stay longer to convince people that my purpose was there? That I was a corporate-focused person just like them. I believe it was in that moment when God stepped in. He’d always been there, but I think stopped listening when the conversation turned toward work. He tried to throw hints of my true purpose at me – with no formal advertising I’d get technology consulting requests regularly. I’d either ignore them completely or pass the leads on to my friends. I saw a few folks leave to start businesses and didn’t even get a twinge of “Oh yeah, I should do that, too.” Instead, my mind focused on being a better employee. God tried so hard to be subtle, but I was just NOT hearing Him. Yes, I was feeling stuck and uneasy about my corporate life. Yes, I was praying for a breakthrough, but my limited focus was making me ask for ways to be a better employee, not a better employer/business owner as He revealed to me early on.
So what do you think happened next?
Remember where we are in the story: Girl finds purpose. Girl loses purpose. God whispers; girl ignores. God raises His voice slightly; girl still doesn’t get the hint. I’m pretty sure you know the next step God took: He SHOUTED! I mean really let loose. He completely knocked me out of my comfort zone by using the one thing I’d gotten so comfortable with…my corporate life. In a matter of months, I went from being a growing rock star to someone who couldn’t do anything right in her boss’ eyes. I was going above and beyond, even in the minds of my coworkers, but still got no credit. I could have 10 examples of how my work was being undermined and was still told to fix it on my own. WTH(eck)! Still…I didn’t fully listen. I worked harder and longer – 10+ hour days. It got to where I was so tired, I barely had enough energy to play with the kids or cook a good meal. Did it help at work? No. I got credit for nothing. In fact, performance review time rolled around, and I was told that I wasn’t making the cut.
As much as it hurt my ego to be constantly told I wasn’t performing at work (which didn’t feel entirely true), I realized that it was God’s way of getting my attention. I thought I was on the right path, but every day I was moving further and further away from my purpose. Lord, I am finally listening. You have jarred me out of my complacency in terms of Your purpose for me. The obvious next question is: so what are you going to do about it? God has spoken again. Will you listen, or go back to doing what made you feel stuck, unhappy and unfulfilled? Are you going to let the devil trick you into thinking that your plans are better than God’s plans? I know I’m not. God has already shouted. I surely don’t want an earthquake next time.
Like I said, I’m in the middle of my story. I am choosing to listen to God. Now, does that mean I walked out of my corporate gig immediately or put my house up for sale with no regard for my family’s wellbeing? No, not at all. God revealed my purpose to me (or rather re-revealed) it to give me a better life. There are still a million questions running through my head like:
– How long can I stay here before I need to leave?
– What about work? A roadblock has been removed. How do I use that to God’s advantage?
– Is small business/nonprofit (enter your idea here) really my purpose?
– What about bills, family, moving?
– What will others think?
– Will it be hard?
In my life, the phrase, “1 year” keeps sticking in my mind. My kids start school next week, so moving now isn’t ideal. We also need to save money, clean the house and plan out the true next steps. I trust God to direct my path. I’m sure the next year won’t be easy, especially on my ego, but I know I’ll be better for it in the end. I can’t worry about what other people think because it won’t help. It can even make a person backtrack. I still have to guard my thoughts when it comes to my coworkers. I can’t dwell on jealous thoughts of “why not me?” because I already know the answer. It’s not me because this isn’t my purpose. Thank God for the wise counselors He put in my life to make this clearer.
Ok…the lesson has been learned. There will still be some bumps in the road, but God will help me work through them. I am ready to have balance in my life again. I am ready to have true passion for my work. I am ready for a change. Most important, I am ready to fulfill His purpose for my life. Are you? Let’s step out on faith and start the journey together!