One of my most common conversations with God. He has a habit of leading me in a direction before I feel qualified. You know what I mean, right? That pit in your stomach when you know you have to do something the Lord is calling you to do, and you’re just not ready. At 42, you would think I’d recognize this feeling and be comforted by God’s everlasting grace. Yet, I still question him and protest the slightest change in direction in my entrepreneurial journey.
I am a natural planner; one of those organized and ambitious women who can’t sit still. Friends say to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!” I confess, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing it all very gracefully. In fact, I work hard at creating habits and implementing systems that help me avoid that feeling of overwhelm and keep me on the right path. Which is why it’s so frustrating when God changes direction on me. When he lovingly (yet sometimes abruptly) puts an obstacle in my path that steers me down a very different road.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3: 5-6).”
I am a recovering control freak. Ask my family and they will gladly recount the details of my militant behavior in my twenties. I excelled at planning my life (and everyone else’s), accomplishing a zillion things at once (without really knowing why) and blowing up when the world didn’t conform to my will.
The year I got engaged, I spent half my time planning my wedding and half my time desperately trying to find my fiancé a job in Washington, DC, where I was living at the time. I had no intention of moving and I was absolutely certain that we were meant to start our married life together in DC. But my husband (and God) had other plans, which included me resigning from my job, moving further away from my family and starting a life in a strange town. I had waited six years to marry my best friend and despite my lack of enthusiasm for the move, I was not about to enter a commuter marriage. So I packed my belongings, and followed God’s plan, moving to Virginia as a conflicted, unemployed bride. In retrospect, I can’t imagine raising our children any other place.
At the age of 26, I discovered the world of entrepreneur-ship in much the same way – under protest. My intention was to find a job and work my way up the corporate ladder until we started a family. Then I would leverage my skills and connections to begin my business as a freelance writer and corporate communications consultant. Well, the Lord didn’t want me to wait until then. He opened very few doors to employment, but sent me so much freelance work that I was quickly working full time and even turning clients away. My early success gave me the opportunity to further develop my independent thinking, courage, creativity and obsession with organization. These skills were perfected in my thirties as I entered the journey of motherhood and I naturally assumed I would take on my new responsibilities with ease. I remember planning all my client interviews during naptime when my son was a baby. I honestly thought I could control his schedule as I controlled my own. I had no idea how my little gifts from God would transform my thinking.
Ten years and three babies later, I have finally accepted that I don’t have all the answers and I can’t control the universe. (OK, so maybe it doesn’t take everyone that long to reach the same conclusion, but I was REALLY, REALLY good at being a control freak, so it was a tough habit to break.) But I had to pass through a rocky passage first — within a three-year time span I experienced the grief of losing a loved one, finally acknowledged and sought therapy for a lifetime of classic eating disorder beliefs and behaviors, and found myself in a financial crisis when I lost my one and only client during a recession.
Anxiety and depression were familiar companions. I was tempted more than once to take the safe and practical road by joining the ranks of the corporate cubicle dwellers after 16 years of self-employed freedom and flexibility. But that’s not a life suited for me. I longed for personal growth, independence and the kind of creative living that can only be found as an entrepreneur. I can’t help it; the entrepreneurial spirit is in my blood. The gentle whisper in my heart guided me back on the path I was meant to follow. The path that led to joy, fulfillment and peace. I credit my slow but deliberate transformation to my spiritual journey with Christ.
Today, I walk with Christ on my path as a mother, wife, writer and business owner. I am confident that he is leading me to serve others using the gifts I am blessed with and the experiences that have shaped my life. He opened the door for me to create a purpose-filled life in which I am able to work from home and help other mom entrepreneurs grow their businesses in a way that supports family and faith. You see, after running my own business for 16 years and working from home while raising three children, I am familiar with the challenges and obstacles my clients experience: like overwhelm, guilt and lack of support to name a few. It can be difficult to commit to a business and take it seriously when there are so many conflicting demands, distractions and expectations. But, despite all these challenges, I’ve managed to balance and enjoy the life of a mom entrepreneur. I am incredibly blessed to realize what many women don’t allow themselves to dream: that it is possible to run a successful, profitable business that fuels my mind while allowing room in my life for the things that nurtures my soul.
My faith is the foundation for decisions I make in my life as a wife, mother, writer and business owner. It’s actually taken a lot of courage for me to call myself “The Christian Mompreneur.” I felt uncomfortable wearing a label like that but I find that it accurately describes my priorities of faith, family and business. And I’ve also realized that there is something very powerful about working with others who share your values, which is why I was so drawn to the fellowship of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs.
Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. She empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace through the Christian Mompreneur Mastermind program and her professional Marketing services, which include copywriting, marketing and strategy consulting and private coaching.