There are always going to be hard seasons in your life. It's just part of life, no matter how much money you make, how many followers you have or where you were born. It's how we choose to respond during those times, and who we choose to trust during those seasons, that will determine a lot about our lives.
I am going to be honest about the current season we are in: which we like to call "the entire year of 2018 thus far". We started the year off with Brooke taking some time away from work for maternity leave, which meant that I had a lot more on my plate. But we felt like the Lord was putting the 6-month maternity leave on our minds and hearts, and so we wanted to be obedient. It wasn't easy, because the temptations to have her work again definitely came up multiples times while she was on leave! We had two of three team members put in their two weeks notice on the same day, which meant even more on my plate. We had a new business in SUPPLY, which meant even more on my plate. Sales were down at walk in love., and I had more work to do than ever before, by myself. (Not a complaint, just the way it was for a season.) And at every turn, Brooke offered to come back and help, and I declined because I wanted to stay true to the six-month commitment we had made.
And this is the part of the story where you expect me to say, "...and then because we were obedient, God opened up the floodgates, and we started selling more t-shirts, and everything was great!" Or, ".. the moment Brooke came back to work, everything started making money again."
Well in this story, the opposite happened. We've had our hardest year in business thus far, selling fewer t-shirts than we did the previous year. It could be a lot of things, or just one thing, or just the way it is after 13 years of doing this, but that's not the point of these thoughts.
The point is that often in life we expect something after obedience. We expect growth or blessing, or victory, when what I think what God is looking for is just obedience. Not because of what happens at the end of it, but because of what happens during it.
People close to me have been asking me how life is and I usually say, "My life is great. My business is not, but my life is great."
This year Brooke and I have fallen more in love, we've enjoyed more time with our kids, and we've been happier than ever before because we genuinely believe joy is a choice. If Paul the Apostle can choose joy in prison, over and over again, we can choose joy anytime, any place, anywhere... because the love of Christ is greater than...well, everything.
It's during these hard seasons that you pray and ask others to pray. "If you could pray for our business that would be great." And then you close your eyes and peek at your sales and think...."Hmm.. that didn't work" It's sad, but it's true.
And while sometimes God does do something big and extravagant, His usual method is to have a bush burning in a random desert, where there is no fanfare or cameras.
And so today, after two long weeks (within a long year) of working hard on a PDF about our Instagram Strategy, which is a definite shift in our company's products, we had our very quiet, very still burning bush moment.
Moments after sharing on Instagram that the PDF was complete and ready for purchase, I refreshed our sales page to see if anyone had placed an order, hoping, praying, that someone would.
And someone did.
And when I looked at the name, I saw it -- our quietly burning bush in the middle of a desert season --- it was the same person, the first person, whoever purchased a t-shirt from me, online, 13 years ago.
We sometimes look for or expect the extravagant, but God is in the subtle and the quiet, gently wowing us with things that we could have never planned or expected.
So, if you are in a hard season or a difficult time in life, be obedient with no expectations. And be on the lookout for that burning bush or that gentle whisper as God does something absolutely magical in your life. - T.J.
This post was shared as the final thoughts on our IGTV episode last week. See that episode here: