For most of this year, I've been planning, praying, and working on something near and dear to my heart -- writing a blog. It took me a few months to identify a topic, choose a name, develop a brand, and start writing. I finally launched my blog on my birthday last month, which was a huge celebration for me. I was so excited and so ready to share my project with everyone. After my birthday, I wrote another post a few days later and promoted my blog on social media a few times......and then abandoned it for 3 weeks.
Today, I'm getting really vulnerable to share with you exactly what happened and how I finally realized God's purpose for Cultivate Grace.
I lost all confidence in my blogging skills.
It didn't take long after those first posts went live for me to begin questioning myself. It was amazing to see the initial reaction to my blog. I had so many social media comments & likes in the first few days. It was really exciting! I downloaded the Squarespace Analytics app to my phone, checking my page views hourly. And when those initial page views dropped off, I started to wonder what I was doing wrong. Self-doubt began to creep in slowly, but surely. I started to wonder what people thought of my blog and if anyone would even keep reading in the first place...
I began doubting my mission, my purpose, and my path for Cultivate Grace. Somehow, I began to feel scattered and without purpose. Almost as if my original plan for my blog didn't even make sense anymore. I wondered if I needed to completely revise my mission statement and purpose. I knew I wanted to write about simplicity and grace; yet, here I was making everything complicated and feeling anxious about it all. I started questioning whether I even have anything to contribute. My self-confidence came to a screeching halt, barely a week after launching my blog.
I started playing the comparison game.
That led me to look for inspiration on social media. I follow some really incredible women, with really incredible businesses. There's so many successful women to look to for inspiration. I was finding plenty of advice on Pinterest about blogging, finding your niche, attracting your ideal audience, and much more. It was a bit overwhelming, to say the least. I realized I have a long way to go as a blogger! Everywhere I looked, on Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook, I could see women I admired running successful blogs and businesses. How do they do it, I wondered...
As I claimed to be seeking inspiration, I was actually sinking deeper into despair and feeling like I had been dealt a losing hand in the comparison game. In playing this game, I began to believe that I needed to be more like the women I follow on social media. I should have a bright, crisp, stock-photo-filled Instagram feed. I should be writing engaging & inspiring blog posts weekly, or better yet, daily. Beyond that, I should be keeping up with multiple social media accounts, posting unique content daily to engage my audience. I need to be fresh, funny, and showing off my unique personality, always. When in reality, I had forgotten that I actually need to be more like me. I need to be the woman God intends for me to be.
I listened to the Prince instead of the King.
Getting caught up in what I thought I was supposed to become as a blogger made me vulnerable to the one who is always waiting in the wings. Worry, fear, and anxiety -- these are all tools the enemy uses against us. And boy, did he use them against me! I was overcome by anxiety every time I even thought about writing a blog post. I don't know how to describe it, except to say that anxious thoughts would just flood my mind. I wanted to present the best version of myself online, and I constantly worried that I didn't know how to do that. I spent those 3 weeks listening to the Prince of this world, rather than the One True King.
Slowly, I began to realize what was happening. I finally opened my eyes to see that I shouldn't feel the way I did about something I love so much. I recognized that God needed to be my priority above blogging. So I began a new routine, waking up earlier each morning to spend quiet time with God (something I highly recommend! It's wonderful and peaceful, even if it does take some time to adjust). A verse He presented to me very quickly and I spent an entire day meditating on was Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Oh, how comforting! My anxiety could be transformed into peace! All I needed to do was take my worries to God and focus on giving thanks instead. Another story I began to read during this time was in John 15:1-8, where Jesus is talking to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
This passage speaks so deeply to my heart! Pruning can be a painful process, but the result is beautiful. God is making something greater in us, something more fruitful. I believe that's what He's doing in my life and with Cultivate Grace. Maybe He's working that way in your life, too.
I rediscovered my purpose.
Sisters, God doesn't make mistakes. A new friend recently encouraged me that everything we go through, no matter how seemingly small, has a purpose. We may not always see it right away, and maybe not ever, but it's there. God is shaping us to become the women He's always intended us to be. He is molding us to fulfill our purpose in His kingdom.
So even though I spent most of the past 3 weeks worrying, I've spent the past few days praying over the direction of Cultivate Grace, seeking God's guidance and purpose.
And I ultimately realized that nothing has changed. I still want to encourage you to allow grace in all areas of your life; to live simply and authentically for Jesus, for yourself, and for your family; and to instill healthy lifestyle values in your every day routines. I also want to help you simplify your business. For those of you running successful blogs, creative businesses, or online shops, I have exciting news coming soon to Cultivate Grace. Stay tuned for more on what God's been stirring in my heart to allow me to better serve you. <3
God has shown me that the last three weeks were intentionally planned by Him, helping me find clarity in my journey to grace and simplicity. I also believe God intended for me to write this post tonight to encourage those of you feeling the same way I have these past few weeks. I want you to know that God does have a purpose for you, and He is continually at work in your life. Never forget Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Our calling is the way God intends us to serve His kingdom. He is continually shaping us for the role He has planned. When you begin to feel that anxiety rush in, be reminded of God's peace that surpasses all understanding. Instead of letting the Prince of this world rule in your heart and allow your fear to take over, fix your eyes on the one true King, who is waiting for you with arms wide open.
I would love to hear your story, sisters! Comment below or send me a note sharing how God has been working in your life. Who knows, it may be just what someone else needs to hear. Praying for you, always. Have a wonderful, social media free weekend!