[She] was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted [her] request. – 1 Chronicles 4:10
So listen, I had the prayer of Jabez in my spirit like crazy for the past 4 months, easy. And I thought it was a cute little prayer. I mean, I did really want God to enlarge my territory. I wanted more. But I didn’t listen to the advice that I give others when I tell them “be careful what you pray for because God’s answers don’t always come packaged in cute boxes with pretty bows on them”. Little did I know that the answer to my prayer came through a process of decrease instead of increase, pain and travail instead of sunshine and rainbows. I knew that there was more inside me. The way that I knew is that I just could not be satisfied with where I was and what I was doing. I lost my passion for my business, my life was upended with a breakup, one of the biggest clients I had acquired folded, my car started breaking down. My life this past few months has been a Marty Huggins mess (see Will Farrell’s The Campaign). All summer I had been praying, reading, growing deeper in my relationship with God. My life was changing and fruit was growing. But where fruit grows, there must also be pruning. The act of pruning is nothing more than cutting things off so that more can grow. It never feels good to have things cut off. Money – cut off. Love life – cut off. Excitement and positive outlook – cut off. I was depressed! I didn’t see what was happening as a good thing. AT. ALL.
I went through this from September until now without realizing what was even going on. I was so deep in my feelings and the emotional distress of it all that I couldn’t see clearly. Yet in my despair I kept crying out to God to “enlarge my territory and keep me from trouble and pain”. It seemed the more I prayed this prayer the worse things got. I started feeling like I was on Punk’d and at any moment Ashton Kutcher and a gang of my friends were going to pop out of the bushes and yell, “PSYYYYYCH”! But no. All hell kept breaking loose to the point that I very literally was bracing myself for worse. I avoided phone calls and emails from people because I was afraid of the worst. Even though the bottom had fallen out, I knew it wasn’t rock bottom so I was waiting for another fall.
It wasn’t until this past weekend when I attended my friend Sway Buckley’s Sm(ART) Artist Intensive that it hit me. God was answering my prayers all along. I was there to help her facilitate a portion of her seminar, so I wasn’t really in the mindset of listening, taking notes and applying what she was teaching. Remember, I had all but given up on my business as it stood anyway so in my mind I was just there to help her and press on. But God knew I needed to be there as she dropped nuggets – better yet, boulders of wisdom on me. She started talking about diversifying and adding streams of income to what you do. How we are here to serve people but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be used up. She told us to write down what our “thing” was that we offered the world, and then map out ways we could monetize it. It was then that it hit me. I had aimed too small and was giving away too much. The reason I was in such angst all summer, the reason my business no longer excited or served me, the reason the answer to my prayer was a bulldozer instead of a crane, is that I was doing this all in my own strength and I wasn’t dreaming as big as I thought I was. I was unsuccessful because even though being an entrepreneur is a major faith walk (and it is) I had my faith in what I was trained to do, not what I was called to do.
Did you catch that? I was trained to be a communicator. I was called to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t go to school for business. I went to school for journalism and communications. Who was I to tout my business acumen when my business wasn’t as successful as other folks? Yet, a day does not go by that a person doesn’t come to me asking something about starting and managing a business. People who are more financially successful and have larger followings come to me for business advice.
What do people come to you for? That’s your “thing”. You may think your gift is in one area but other people reflect back to you something else. Whatever you are in demand for is what you are called for. Once I stood in the truth that Sway shared, I realized there is so much more inside me than media and communications. My territory was already expansive, I just didn’t see it that way. By the time she finished I had 7 streams of income written down – not including 2 businesses for which I have already laid some of the groundwork. I began brainstorming ways to incorporate all of them so that they “made sense”. But as soon as I did that, she dropped yet another nugget:
What you are called to do will not look like anything anyone else has ever done.
That gave me so much freedom.
I pray that sharing this encouraged you in some way. There is more in you. Once you cut away the busyness and distractions and move away from mourning the pruning process things begin to clarify. The things that I was holding on to serve no purpose in my enlarged territory. The same goes for you. What do you need to surrender today so that you can press forward into your enlarged territory? What are you really called to do? Does it scare you? I’d be a bold-faced liar if I told you that I wasn’t somewhat afraid of all of the ideas I have. But they propel me and challenge me with renewed focus to get up and do them. Don’t let a huge vision paralyze you. Press forward each day, one step at a time, until your vision matches your reality. Enlarge your territory, girl!