I come from a long line of women who worked and worked hard. From teachers to farmers, from receptionists to business owners, my ancestors passed down a legacy of work.
I grew up with a single mama who worked to provide the best possible life for my sister and me. Mom worked right down the road as the administrative professional for a local construction company, a job she still has even though the location has changed.
I always assumed I would have a full-time career because that’s the life I knew. We women work, we provide, and we contribute to the support of our families financially.
Do you want to know what happened?
I did it.
I earned those degrees from Villanova University. I married my high school sweetheart. We even had a gorgeous daughter after God softened our hearts toward parenthood in an unexpected and drastic way. I took the first job available to me after college, as a bank teller at a local community bank. After a year, I moved on to their marketing department as an assistant, and then when the marketing director changed, my role changed as well.
For the next several years I worked hard. I had my sights set on that title, that business card, that bit of proof that I was worth something to the world. I helped ring the closing bell at NASDAQ, joined the ranks of bank officers, and was invited to attend and run fancy meetings. I became an assistant vice president before I turned 30, and worked on important projects. From the outside it looked like all I was missing was the white picket fence.
But I was miserable. I struggled to maintain a positive attitude and found myself always striving for more. I alienated friends, spent far more time at work than with my family, and it was never enough.
And so in 2013, God began to close doors and prepare my heart to receive a blessing I never knew I wanted. I was fired from the only career I’d ever known. Suddenly life was chaotic and fearful. I didn’t know why I was being asked to walk this road.
But God had a better plan.
Over the last few years, every idol I’ve had related to my work has been stripped away. When I first became a mother, I deeply grieved the transition from my old life to the new. I tried desperately to keep one foot in the life we had before and one foot in this new motherhood territory, and it was exhausting and impossible. For the first time in my life, I was doing something I wasn’t any good at—and I was learning that, in the trial and error of motherhood, I was more likely to end up on the side of “error.” The identity I had wrapped up in my career was the final piece that needed to be stripped away to push me into embracing life as the mother of a child.
When God called me to continue working full-time, but from home, I questioned Him about the challenges and emotions that came with having our little girl in day care. But He gave our hearts peace, a Christian day care we love, and a vision that this—this working from 8 to 5 and sharing in the provision for our family—is what God has called me to in this season of our family, and that He would redeem it.
My little girl would learn how to work hard by watching her mama, like I did by watching mine. I could release the guilt I felt. I wasn’t selfish; I was obeying God. Now I’ve joined the ranks of my entrepreneurial ancestors and own a freelance company. I work from home while my husband works full-time as a third-grade teacher and our daughter attends school. That’s what life looks like for us in this season. God is still working on my heart to find a healthy work/rest balance. I struggle to stop working when my family comes home, and I’ve developed a bit of a territorial issue with my home office.
But in doing a job I love, I pray my daughter will learn to chase her dreams, work hard, and obey God, wherever He calls her. I pray she’ll learn from me that holy hustle means embracing the work we’ve been given, but finding our worth in the One who created us to do it. I believe our work has worth and that what we do to serve God, our neighbors, and our families is important—but that’s not what defines us. I believe the work we do in every season has a reason far beyond what we can see. God doesn’t make mistakes about where He places us, and He has a plan for us to do work for His kingdom, right where we are.
The work we do has worth when we do it to the glory of God and with a joyful heart. The time we spend doing our work isn’t wasted time. God will redeem all that we fear we’ll miss out on because He wastes nothing. When He calls us to work, wherever it is and whatever it looks like, it’s because it’s part of His plan for us, part of how He created us to serve Him and love our neighbors. But we need to be willing to say goodbye to striving.
Crystal Stine encourages women to pursue holy hustle—a work-hard, rest-well lifestyle that chases faith instead of fame. Along with being a popular speaker, she is the author of Holy Hustle. Quieting the Shout of Should, and her most recent book, Holy Hustle Planner. Crystal lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. www.crystalstine.me