Of Silver Linings and Renewed Purpose

Natalie Martin

Silver Linings

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” ~Proverbs 19.21

I’m a believer in silver linings. You see, as a perfectionist, it can be awful hard to accept when things just don’t turn-out the way I think they should. I mentally and physically prepare (read: over-prepare) for dang-near everything. It has served me well most of my life. But sometimes, things just don’t go like they should. And then, like all perfectionists, I wonder if it was even worth the effort.  

But then somehow, I get a glimpse of the “silver lining”. Sometimes I wonder to myself if it’s just a coping mechanism. Just a clever way to deal with defeat and failure. And, maybe in some ways it starts-out that way. But, I’m a woman of faith. And, as such, I believe that in every circumstance, good or bad, God is hoping that we are open to the lesson.

And THAT is the real silver lining. Being open to receive His word. And consider for a moment, if you will, how powerful that word feels in moments of despair. How, when the passionate pursuit of something important in our lives meets defeat and frustration, we become far more open to those words. For me, the depth of that pain is what makes me more open. The basic realization that dealing with setbacks and heartache is almost impossible without God’s Grace. And sometimes, I think that’s exactly His plan. To use those things we feel most passionate about to build within us a reliance upon Him.

Recently I dealt with a major business set-back. It was a long, painful and drawn-out set-back. The kind that makes you question EVERYTHING. But the worst part was that my expectations had been so high. I so confidently walked into this new situation just knowing in my heart that I was going to knock it out of the park. And then, almost in the blink of an eye, I realized how wrong I had been. It was too late. I was committed and had to see it through, but the agony of facing the realization that my plan had totally failed felt enormous.

Like dealing with any loss, I went through the full range of emotions. First there was righteous indignation: “How could this POSSIBLY be happening?!”. Then there was denial: “It’s ok. It’s just temporary”. Then came anger (and too many bad words to repeat). Then sadness. And resignation. And then a bit of despair mixed with depression. And lastly: exhaustion.

I don’t care if you’re a business owner, a competitor or just an ambitious human out there striving for your goals, when one of those goals goes ka-boom right in front of you, it’s hard not to have huge feelings about it. And when the huge feelings pass, sometimes it’s hard to pick your damn head up off the pillow and move forward.

Enter prayer. Faithful, seeking, honest prayer. Not the monotone, “say grace at dinner”, kind of prayer. The kind where you talk with God like he’s sitting right next to you. With your head hung low you ask for Him to shine a little light on what’s going on. Help you understand how you thought you were doing the right thing and it just didn’t work the way it should have.

And then, while you sit there with your heart on your sleeve and your head in your hands, He does exactly that.

Only then did I realize that my major business set-back was full of greater purpose. You see, God knows my heart (and yours). And he knows that I listen really, really well in moments of defeat. He knows that he will never have my attention more fully than right at the peak of my agonizing loss or failure. And He takes His shot every single time. Sure is a smart fella, isn’t He?

God reminded me that this year was about change for my business. He reminded me that I had fully committed myself to that change mentally, but I was still holding on to old things because I was worried about “staying afloat”.

Dang it. I knew right then where I messed-up. For those of you who have been with me and my company on this long journey over the last 3 years, you’ve seen that we’ve made quite a few big changes this year. We’re not just a soap company anymore. We offer a big variety of apparel now, all designed with positive messages, encouragement and scripture. Because I woke-up last year and realized that for all the things I struggle with in this world, I’m damn-sure that others struggle with them too. Learning how to be confident and strong in things that don’t come naturally. Visualizing goals and using them to get us where we want to be. Treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, even when we screw-up. And most importantly, relying on God for guidance in everything we do.

And then I remembered that above all, it’s my job to share that message. God reminded me that He will always take care of the rest as long as I remember what my purpose is here. Stop clinging to old things and old ways, because that alone is trying to preserve the power and control to myself instead of having faith in Him. All I need to do is execute His purpose. The rest will take care of itself.

And how’s that for a silver lining?

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