When I left my job in events to go to work for the church I chose it in large part for how it would impact my personal life. After 4 years ‘on the road’ feeling like I couldn’t commit to a bible study, missing weekends with my friends, flying in late and out early from family vacation, and having to flake out on plans last minute because there was just so much to be done for our next event – I sensed that I needed a shift that would allow me to be there for my family and friends over the next few years.
Hindsight being 20/20 I know that was the Lord’s perfect timing because in my years at Grace my sister went from 1 to 4 kids, my Dad changed jobs, my parents moved, my younger sister went from Clemson to Calfornia to Chicago to Dallas, and for the first time in my adult life I think I might have had the least chaotic of the lives in the Christensen crew. I got to be part of it. I’ve spent so much time with nieces and nephews, I fixed up my house, I took the architectural boat tour and saw a Cubs game in Chicago, I’ve seen almost all of my Dad’s home games since he came to Miami, I flew literally around the world to visit a friend on her year long adventure in Australia, and I even got to return the moving favor by helping my Mom move my parents from one apartment to another.
I never could have done this if I had taken any of the other available career options I had when I left events. Grace gave me the freedom to excel at my job but also to be really wholly present and available for the people I love in what was a really intense season for us. It makes me weepy with gratitude to think about it.
What I haven’t spoken about much is that at the same time I had this incredible other opportunity that I turned down because while it seemed to be a dream come true for me, it didn’t feel like the right season to be that selfish with my time. I remember telling myself as I turned that job down to serve as an assistant for the 2nd time in my career that someday it would be my turn to chase my dreams and all the people I was putting it off for, they’d be there to cheer me on.
I was right.
This week I finished my first week at a new job. A job with so much opportunity it makes my head spin with delight. I’m having to study harder and work longer than I have in years and just like I knew I would: I am loving it. See the truth is, I love the grind. I thrive on challenge. I want to win and excel. But I learned a really valuable lesson by being willing to wait. I learned balance.
When I look back at the early years of my career I shake my head at the girl who didn’t know how to make a single boundary. Who barely slept, consumed way too much caffeine, and lived on sheer will and ambition while working 2-3 jobs to pay off debt and get ahead ‘quickly’. I don’t regret those choices and I sure as heck am thankful I did it before 30 because I’m not sure I could work 3am-6am and 9-5 everyday to do it now. (This is 30). But what I lacked was the ability to balance what I wanted with who I wanted to be and I paid a price for that. A price with my health and a price in my relationships.
The 4.5 years that followed, working at Grace, I found ways to fix my former shortcomings in relationships and ‘have it all’ even if it meant a little less of some things to make room for a little more of others. I know that is invaluable as I finally take that big leap back to the ‘for profit’ world in a bigger, more demanding role.
This week I felt like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses when at the end of the movie everyone she worked so hard to be there for showed up for her when she needed it. This week I took this big, scary leap into a demanding (and rewarding) new career and the people I love most all cheered me on. With presents, meals, phone calls, texts, and visits they overwhelmed me with encouragement. The time finally feels right. But more importantly, I have the ability and the desire to balance it. I’m ready to pursue my career dreams with the support of my tribe but not at their expense. It is truly the best feeling.