I don't know about you, but somehow I've completely confused what I was taught about having a strong work ethic with the idea of constant hustle. Do you find yourself going and going, non-stop? Your hustling might be related to a different area of your life, but I hope that in sharing this journey of how God is showing me that having a strong work ethic doesn't mean that I have to hustle non-stop will help you find freedom too.
I worked so hard last year. When I started loved+blessed I was still working full-time. For about 3 years, I worked literally 20 hours a day, juggling the responsibilities of my job with running a business on the side. I still can't believe I made it so long operating on about 4 hours of sleep a night.
When I finally stepped out in faith and left my job in 2017 to focus on loved+blessed full-time, my work schedule didn't change. I was so determined to live out this new dream and vision that God gave me that I continued to burn the candle at both ends and probably worked even more because now my commute was shortened to the distance between my laptop and our bed. The only breaks I took were to cook dinner for my husband and I and the occasional walk around the neighborhood he'd encourage me to accompany him on. Those walks are actually some of my favorite memories of last year. Simple 45-minute breaks, walking alongside the man God sent me to love. But I digress...
The point is that I had developed a lifestyle where I didn't rest. I worked 7 days a week. Hustle had become my first, middle and last name. I realized that this wasn't just the normal hustle of a small business owner because I've done this my whole life. Even before starting loved+blessed, I worked ridiculous hours, not always because I enjoy it, but because deep down I fear that if I don't work hard, everything might fall apart. Somehow I convinced myself that, if I don't work hard, we won't be able to pay our bills. If I don't work hard, someone, everyone will think I'm lazy. If I don't work hard, no one will love me. Now that last one is deep and I can't fully explain or understand it all yet myself, but I have learned that hard work shouldn't be about getting people to love me, but instead pointing their attention to the God who loves them.
I had high hopes for last year. Like any entrepreneur, I had a financial goal I wanted to accomplish. And guess what...I didn't. I worked tirelessly, but I didn't meet the goal I had set. I accomplished other goals that I'm very grateful for and proud of. They were the goals that ultimately mean the most, because of their eternal value. But that one goal that I have the most fear around and the least control over is, of course, the one that keeps me up at night. It's the one I have to distract myself from thinking about so I can go to bed.
So after burning myself out working full-time and starting a business; after leaving my full-time job and working more instead of fewer hours every day; at the start of this year, God revealed to me that my working harder won't make the future He has planned for me happen any faster. It will all still unfold in His timing. He still wants me to put in the work, but I am not the one in control, He is.
It's crazy how I seem to have to keep re-learning that lesson, but I'm reminded that He has been so faithful to my husband and me in this journey. He has taken care of our needs and continues to bless us with some of our "wants" too. As I write this, I'm still struggling to fully let go of my fears and anxiety around rest. I don't want to waste a minute of the time I've been given and I don't want to end this year the same way I ended the year before, without meeting all my goals. But I also know in my heart that I am making progress towards my goals, even if it's slower than I would like. I know He is in control and me working myself to the point of exhaustion is not going to make His plan happen any faster.
So I want to encourage you as I encourage myself. Everything will not fall apart because you get 8 hours of sleep. Everything will not fall apart because you take a break to eat lunch. Everything will not fall apart because you take the weekend to rest and do something you enjoy. Everything will not fall apart because you take a day off from checking your email or social media feed.
If you've fallen into that anxious hustle too, let's humble ourselves before the Lord, knowing and trusting that His timing, His plans are perfect and for our good. That if we keep pressing forward, He will be faithful, but in the meantime, He wants us to cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us. So tonight, let's give it to God and get some rest.
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Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed. On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.