If you’re not in it you won’t quite understand. Maybe surface level you do but when your dreams and livelihood are on the line it hits differently.
Starting a business is an often overwhelming, frightening, and lonely experience. It doesn’t matter how many family members and friends you have supporting you. Or how many mentors from different areas of expertise to guide you. It’s a lot. So when people ask me how it’s going and are all excited to hear the progress it can be really hard to explain where I’m at and why it’s taking so long to get to the “next step”.
Yesterday I had a day off so I planned to devote a large amount of time working on pruning my business plan and continuing to get into the nitty-gritty of the financials. I started off fine and productive but slowly morphed into being completely unmotivated and annoyed with myself. Even with all the ways I was distracting myself, I was avoiding leaving the house and getting to Mass. Finally, I convinced myself to head to the mall to try and use a Bath & Body Works gift card I was given for Christmas. I figured if I could get myself to do that then I’d get myself to the 6:15 Mass too. Well, on my drive there my mind started spiraling down a rabbit hole of all the ways my various desires could never line up and how I was just going to be lonely, working all the time, and perpetually in a state of physical and mental exhaustion. As I pulled into a parking space there were tears streaming down my face. Annoyed with myself as this seems to be a more regular occurrence for me these days I let the song finish playing, wiped my tears, and walked into the mall.
As soon as I walked in I passed two women and the only thing I heard them exclaim was, “It’s God!” as one of them exited the store. I almost went up to the other woman to ask why she had said that because I wanted some confirmation of God working in people’s lives. But I didn’t and I kept walking.
Not sure where the store was, I took a right out of Macy’s to try and find it. About halfway down the hall out of the corner of my eye I see the word “Charismata” on a storefront. I do a double take and notice the dove paired with it. I immediately thought of the Holy Spirit but with a woman on my heels I just kept walking. As I reached the end I realized the Bath & Body Works wasn’t there so I turned around. This time I went into the Charismata store and quickly realized it was a Christian based clothing company.
A man emerged from the back and greeted me. I asked if he owned the store to which he replied that he did. With a smile on my face I praised him for it. He thanked me and began sharing a bit of his story and how they’d been there since July. Again, I praised him and acknowledged that it is not easy to follow the promptings of the Spirit and open a business like his. To this he asked if I was doing something similar which I responded by sharing the dream of the Catholic café. Now the tables turned and he began encouraging me. My eyes started to water a little as I received what he was saying. Then he went on to say that the devil is going to try to stop me and that I can’t let him get a foothold in my thinking. And now the waterworks just started free flowing. I explained to him that I had been having a really tough day with it all and was feeling so discouraged. His encouragement continued but then he paused and said I needed to focus on the Bible verse, “I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) At this my jaw dropped and my hand went up as I exclaimed that that’s my favorite Bible verse! (You can even see I have it listed on the About page of this blog)
I asked if we could hug and he said he was going to ask the same thing. So we hugged and I asked for his name. Carlos. Carlos then offered to pray over me. In the middle of a mall with tears streaming down my face, a complete stranger put his arm around me and prayed for my strength and that the Holy Spirit would come upon me with His wisdom and protection. That I may be armed with the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17) I wish I could share the peace with you that I felt after this encounter.
Carlos shared that he had almost closed the store early that day because it had been so slow but he decided against it. It hasn’t been the easiest road for him either but he knows that the Lord is guiding him and will provide. Last night the Lord did that for the both of us I think.
- After going to the mall for a distraction and some lotion I instead left with a smile on my face, happy tears in my eyes, a new t-shirt proclaiming God’s mercy for a 1000 generations, and the beautiful witness of Carlos’ trust in the movements of the Spirit fueling my soul.
I’ve known this journey wouldn’t be an easy one but to be honest when God told me to quit my job and go for this there really wasn’t any hesitation or doubt at all. I thought there was no way my fire for following His will would wane. I failed to consider my own shortcomings and the circumstances of life that we can’t control. Thankfully, I’m serving a God who understands me, foresees it all, and already has His fingerprint on every single detail including the many divine meetings like this one that He has and will continue to provide along the way.
So if you’re wondering how it’s going, know that it’s really challenging and draining to figure out this puzzle but that I’m not stopping. Whether it takes 6 months or 10 years, if God’s still asking me to journey down this path then I’m going to keep fighting for it and fighting off the lies of the devil until it comes to fruition. I’ve been made aware of the desires of my heart that the evil one has found it easier to manipulate and discourage me through. Those tactics are only going to ramp up the deeper I get into this which means I need to fortify myself even deeper in prayer. Carlos’ prayer reminded me of an Armor Prayer that a friend sent me back in 2020. I found it in the notes on my phone and will be praying this consistently now. I’ll share it below.
If you’re struggling to get out of the same cycle or find yourself making minimal progress, I encourage you to first, be kind and patient with yourself. God often makes us wait in order to show us areas in our lives where we need to depend on Him more than we depend on ourselves before we can fully receive that gift He is so desperately waiting to give us. Second, is to put on the armor of God which comes from investing in a relationship with Him. This armor is not out of fear but rather for strength. We are battling evil in this world and it is only prideful to think we can defeat it (him) by our own will and strength. God’s plan is much more thorough and successful than our own even if sometimes it looks like retreating, taking a “wrong” turn, or letting go of something good in order to have open hands for something better.
This is a long post so bless you if you’ve made it to the end but on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul I’m grateful for Paul’s witness of constant conversion and an openness to the Lord even when it goes against everything he thought he knew. May St. Paul and his letters (such as Ephesians) be a guiding force in your own life and give you the courage of the Spirit to follow whichever path your Father in Heaven is asking you to follow Him along each day.
“Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil…So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11, 14-17
P.S. Go follow Carlos’ business @charismata.apparel on Instagram for encouragement and all his awesome apparel or stop in the Auburn Mall to pick up something for yourself or someone you love!
This is me no makeup and puffy eyes from crying but full of joy because of how God spoke to me through Carlos!