What Do You Do: Embracing This Season
I don’t know if there was an exact moment when I decided it was time for me to return to working outside the home. I just know it was a decision I labored over for many months. My biggest fear about going back to work was who I believed I would be letting down in the process. My relationship with my husband and my children is my highest priority, but my creative work is also a priority. Would my children suffer from this decision? Would this be some turning point in their lives where we would look back and regret this decision? How would my marriage handle the pressure of us both working outside the home? Would we grow distant?
And the women … would the women I had been encouraging for five years through my blog, podcast, and speaking engagements give up hope that they could build a profitable business while raising their kids? For years I’ve observed women making a full-time income from home while raising their children. Because I hadn’t figured out my sweet spot for a financially profitable business, making the decision to go back to work felt like failure.
Letting God Handle the What Ifs
Nevertheless, following a three-week break from social media and time spent in prayer, I felt like I had my answer. I was going back to work outside of the home full time.
I inventoried the skills and the experience I had gained while self-employed. I emailed a friend who was employed in the field I believed would be a good fit. I let her know I was looking for an online marketing position and if anything came up in her present company to keep me in mind. She emailed back within a couple of hours. They were in the process of hiring and needed someone with my experience. I sent over my resume. The next week I went in for an interview. A week later I was hired as the company’s social media community manager! I was excited and fearful of what this new season would mean for my relationships and my business, but I allowed God’s leading to override my what ifs.
In hindsight, I’m sure I went through a bit of an identity crisis. I had never been employed longer than a year and a half; entrepreneur is part of my identity. My entrepreneurial endeavors had allowed me to be home for most of my kids’ lives. My husband and I have owned multiple businesses together over the years, including two different multi-level marketing businesses, a commercial cleaning business that employed a few people, and a baby equipment rental business that proved to be profitable but was next to impossible to insure. For five years after that, I worked from home as an online marketing consultant. I also had completed a two-year business program at my church. I love talking to and connecting with small business owners. I love learning business principles. My husband and I both have an undeniable passion for entrepreneurship.
From Entrepreneur to Employee
The rub is we haven’t been able to bring in the level of income as entrepreneurs that we’ve been able to make as employees (yet). No matter how many businesses we’ve owned and how little money we’ve made in them, the entrepreneur in me will not give up the belief that we will one day build a sustainable, profitable business that’s a blessing to our family and other families. Until then, we choose to be employed. But what happens when an entrepreneur becomes an employee? When people ask me, “What do you do?” what will I say?
This last year and half of working full time has brought greater clarity of my purpose. I want to encourage women to not grow tired and discouraged in their callings as wives, mothers, and businesswomen. My purpose is not to talk women out of working for themselves or others, but I want to help them look to God for their identity and to know Him as their source for strength.
I’ve also embraced the idea that my purpose is not hindered by my status as an employee or as an entrepreneur. In this season, like Paul, I am discovering the value of contentment in every situation and to not wish away this season but to glean all God is teaching me. I’m finding contentment in allowing God to shape my identity. My position has changed, but my life’s mission and purpose has not changed.
The Crossroads Moment
Every entrepreneur will come to a crossroads moment similar to the one I had. Some will remain on the entrepreneurial track without a weekly supplement of a paycheck from an employer. Bravo! Then there are those like me who live in what my friend Hajj Fleming calls the grustle. “Grustle is the combination of a daily Grind (job) and a Hustle (your passion).”
Someday I will grustle my way back to full time entrepreneurship. For now, though, if someone asks what I do, I tell them how I still encourage professional women through speaking and writing to fully embrace their callings as businesswomen and keepers of the home. But I also tell them how I get to use my strengths to help my employer develop their business, too.
What Do You Do?
If you sit with someone long enough, included in the initial small talk (“Where do you live?” “How do you know so-and-so?”) someone in the conversation will inevitably ask, “What do you do?” What are we looking for when we ask that question? And what do we hear when we’re on the receiving end of that question?
What we do is important stuff in this world, and God desires greatly to be invited into what it is we find ourselves doing every day. God takes delight in the work of our hands. But do we sometimes confuse what we and others “do” with who we are and, especially, who we are in Christ? Would our question change if we thought about it more deeply? And what about our answer? How about you? What Do You Do?