An Unanswered Prayer
After graduating from Marquette University in 2007, the job market was obsolete. I remember sending my portfolio, resume, and cover letter to over 100 businesses upon graduation, with no avail. As I drove to my first promising interview at a marketing company, my nerves were in control. I turned up the music and sang along to ensure my energy exuded confidence. Apparently I missed that the speed limit had just dropped. I was pulled over and issued my very first speeding ticket. The eyes of this young perfectionist welled with tears I couldn’t hold back, and my eye makeup was destroyed. I dried my face, and turned the radio back up.
Thanks to God, despite interference, I arrived with time to spare.
Despite my preparation and prayers, I did not get that job. However, the experience gained in the interview may have been what aided in my first real opportunity. Not too long after a stint of rejections, I was hired as marketing director for a 2-location dental practice. Sure, it was a bit unconventional, but it was work and it was marketing, and I was thrilled. I had no idea it would be the start of an amazing career and passion. In 2009, about 2 years after accepting this amazing opportunity, I was hungry for a new challenge. With a conviction to do more for dentistry, I launched my little business, Identity Dental Marketing.
To outsiders, first year in business would have appeared to be a joke. I worked well over 40 hours per week and earned all of $12,900 before taxes. (That’s not a typo. I’m not missing a zero.) Most would have considered this a massive failure, however I did not. I was grateful for a few steady, loyal clients. I was taking care of myself, my dog, and my clients and I was learning rapidly. Despite many ramen noodle dinners, I truly enjoyed each challenge and each new lesson.
Despite the financial woes of my first couple years, it was always evident that my business was a gift from God. His plans for my life were so much better than my own. As the years continued, the business continued to grow, and I have been continually blessed with the ability to serve many wonderful clients and employees.
The Key to Financial Health – Work Harder & Smarter
Before marriage and children, I often worked nights, weekends, and holidays. According to the many business gurus and authors, success comes to those who work for it. My own personal mantra was “work smarter and harder.”
In March of 2014, I was sitting in the delivery room, unknowingly about to encounter an unplanned C-section after many hours of unsuccessful labor. I decided it was a good time to open the laptop and get ahead on some emails. After all, I didn’t want to lose all that I had worked so hard to gain. I only had a couple employees at the time and they were not yet ready to hold down the fort.
In hindsight it’s clear that for many years I didn’t fully own the business. In many ways, it owned me. No matter what I was doing, my thoughts would drift back to what I could do better, how I could grow, or how I’d handle the next big challenge at hand.
The slick talking, jet flying, elitists are constantly encouraging us to live the dream. They teach that financial success is within your reach and once you have it, you’ll have it all. There’s an unspoken promise that fulfillment will be found in your next, bigger paycheck. I believed them.
Each year, I’d plan exactly how I’d grow bigger and stronger. New Year’s Day was always my favorite holiday. It represented a fresh start and the ability to do better next year. I had attained the American dream. I had a wonderful family that I love. What could possibly be missing? I knew there was something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
The Key to Emotional & Physical Health – Me Time
Once money was no longer a stressor or even a challenge for that matter, I decided to lighten my work load and spend some time with myself. If I got a free afternoon, I’d get a massage or take a walk. I’d go through phases of regular exercise and healthy eating. After all, the supplement-selling moms on social media seemed pretty happy after lifting weights and eating salads. The world of mompreneurs seems to have one collective message: put yourself first and you’ll be fulfilled. So, that’s what I tried to do.
Those breaks weren’t enough. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be working. I stumbled upon machine gambling, and thought that it would be a good solution for me. After all, I finally was able to turn off my mind. I was able to escape the endless emails, the chaos at home, and most importantly to fill the small void that I didn’t even recognize, let alone understand.
I justified the activity with these thoughts:
“Well, I earned the money and I can spend it how I want.”
“I work hard and this is as cheap a break as therapy.”
“Finally, I have a clear mind and a break from my own thoughts. I deserve this.”
“I’m not addicted to it at all, so there’s no harm done.”
“My kids are asleep anyways, I’m not missing time with them.”
“My husband knows I’m gambling. I’m not lying about it.”
After all, in a world where #MeTime and #SelfCare reinforced the same resounding promise: “Put yourself first and you’ll be fulfilled.” How could giving myself more time for fun, NOT be the way to fulfillment?
Despite buying a Peloton, getting massages, reading more, splurging on overpriced coffee, lengthy family vacations, I still think back to my past life and remember the indescribable feeling of absence. It wasn’t depression or anxiety. It was just a feeling of normal nothingness that I believed accompanied everyone’s earthly existence. I had been blessed with the business of my dreams, a loving family, plenty of time for myself. I had the things that I thought would always bring fulfillment: people to love, something to do, and something fun to await, yet I still felt a desire for more.
I had achieved the financial, emotional, and physical health I desired, but my soul was unsettled.
A New Lens
During the challenging year of 2020, God came to me in an unexpected way. For the first time in many years, I deeply pondered life and death. I asked God to give me clarity in my faith.
He soon put people and circumstances in front of me that allowed me to become keenly aware of the evil in this world. The depth of darkness in this world is inconceivable to most. There were days when I had wished I didn’t know what I had discovered. There were days when leaving my bed was not an option. This enlightenment process led me to abruptly have a deep need and desire for truth and unshakeable faith.
He answered my prayers. In a series of unbelievable events, God revealed truth to me. He worked miracles. My faith began to grow rapidly. The more I seek clarity, the clearer things become. The lens through which I saw the world was replaced with a new, clearer lens. I started to question my life, no longer by the standards set by this world, but this time by the standards set by God.
It all became clear. Financial health, physical health, and emotional health are all temporal gifts that are wasted when not founded in spiritual health.
It became clear that these gifts are not ours to keep, but given to us by God to share.
It became clear that the highest level of self-care is care of others.
It became clear that good behavior doesn’t require justification.
Gambling was replaced with charitable giving. Wasteful “me time” was replaced with prayer and study. A work addiction was healed and in its place a more present mind was given to me. He replaced the void in my heart with His love.
Thanks to God, despite interference, I arrived at my new life with time to spare.