HI, IMAGINARY FRIENDS!!!
I could try to come up with an excuse for where I have been over the past… oh, I don’t know… forever, but the truth is not really very interesting. I’ve been working! And working! And worrying about working! And working some more! Turns out that starting your own business ain’t easy. There have been some really great highs, but we’ve had our shares of struggles and challenges along the way. In fact, we are in our biggest valley right now. Right before Christmas, I stopped taking a paycheck from ClassMax.
Yeah. It’s as scary as it sounds, let me tell you.
But when you own your own company, if you don’t make the sacrifice for the company to grow, who will? So, we stopped paying me in an effort to conserve money so that we could prepare for our next phase of growth, which is selling to entire districts. We are still productive and thriving as a company and I am busier than ever. But it just made more sense to put money back into the company for a while. And it’s stressful, y’all! Super, super stressful! Not only trying to grow a company, but to keep our family afloat, too.
This past Wednesday started the Lenten season for Christians around the world. Like millions of others, my family went to church to get the ashes swiped on the ol’ foreheads, but I was moved by the sermon that night more than the ashes. Our church is focusing on a sermon series about growing in God’s garden and to kick off this season, they had big barrels of soil in the front of the church. Each barrel had a sign sticking in it that described areas of our lives where we don’t let God have complete control or maybe a reason why we don’t let God have complete control. One barrel said busy-ness. One said vulnerability. One said arrogance. One said shame.
After you had the ashes put on your forehead, you were invited to visit the barrel that spoke most directly to you, pick up a handful of soil and then drop your soil into big planters that our church will plant flowers in to grow over the next few months. I surprised myself when I was sitting there in the pews deciding while barrel best fit me.
Busy-ness is a state of being in my life right now, but, honestly, I’m doing a good job of managing that. I’m learning to ask for help and to receive help when it is offered. It’s been an intentional growth for me and doesn’t come naturally, but I’m moving in the right direction.
Vulnerability isn’t really my struggle. I’m pretty much a you-get-what-you-see kind of person who tends to overshare to a fault. I don’t mind being vulnerable and I don’t usually have too many pretenses around it. If I’m struggling, I’m struggling. If I’m winning, I’m winning. And when it feels like I’ve had an excessive amount of either, I have found that life has a way of balancing itself out.
Arrogance ebbs and flows for me. I certainly have had times in my life when arrogance ranked supreme. Usually when things are going really well. I tend to take the credit for that myself if I go unchecked. But I really try to make a conscious effort to remember that I serve a much bigger God than me and that I stand on the shoulders of some incredible people in my life. Plus, right now, I don’t have much to feel arrogant about. So, that’s not really my issue at this moment.
Ahh… but shame. That was the one that was screaming to me in the pew, which is so surprising to me because I’ve never in my life struggled with shame. I’m a big believer in learning from mistakes, not dwelling on them or regretting them and so shame never really rears it’s head for me. But our minister talked about shame being closely connected to pride sometimes and I had never thought about it that way before. When we are prideful about something, we can be ashamed when it doesn’t go as planned. And that speaks to me deeply right now. Uncomfortably deeply.
Do you know how many people thought I was insane for quitting my cushy teaching job and starting my own company? I have zero experience. I have very little business experience. I have almost no technical background. What did I know about any of it? And yet, I did it. Against the advice of some very important, smart people…. and even myself some days. So to stomach this low season of a growing company is hard on the pride. And it’s embarrassing. And it’s shameful.
(You have no idea how hard it was to write that last sentence.)
Which is maybe why I wanted to blog about it. Maybe if I put it out there, I’ll take that monster under my bed out into the light of day and realize that this is just part of business. It’s just what has to be done right now. Chris has reminded me over and over again when I have broken down out of frustration and anger and exhaustion and stress that it isn’t a failure unless you stop. So, I keep going. I sit down in my office every day and I work my ass off, knowing that every business owner in the world has gone through slumps and what separates the successes from the failures are the ones who just keep going. Even when they are doubtful and uncertain and ashamed.
So, this Lent, God is helping me turn that shame inside out, taking it from a weakness to a strength. I don’t know how it’s going to happen yet, but maybe this blog post is a start.
Gosh, I’ve missed you all and our time here in this imaginary corner of the internets. Will I keep blogging? Who knows! We’ll just have to wait and see…
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