Boss daughter

Why leaving my career had the biggest payoff

I’m ending this year much differently than how I started it—and I realize that on paper, it doesn’t make much sense.

In fact, many could take a quick look at my past 12 months and conclude that 2014 was a professional failure.

I started the year at the peak of my career, after accepting the role of publisher of two trade magazines just mere weeks before. Admittedly, it was an uncommon move to make, coming from an editorial background with only four years on the brands and in B2B media period after my time in local news. And yes, it was a role full of challenges—but also excitement and aspirations. I could help drive change and see it to fruition, which is something I love to do. As a journalism student a decade ago, I honestly couldn’t have imagined I would be in this position.

But in August, I walked away from it all.

OK, you’re probably thinking, that sounds a little crazy. My aforementioned former-journalism-student-self would agree. For as long as I can remember, I was destined—and determined—to have a career in media. After all, I had started my first newspaper in the third grade (aptly named the “Old-Fashioned Press”), which I wrote, paginated (on a typewriter, with hand-drawn illustrations), and published myself—and circulated to the student body of my public elementary school. (Yeah, I can hear my husband snickering as he reads this … ) I fought hard for every internship and opportunity to gain more experience in the field, and I soaked it up. It was all I wanted to do.

What I didn’t realize then was that I was also destined to be something else: a mom.

It was no secret to our friends and family that David and I were never sure if we wanted to have children. But over time, God began to work in our hearts that in our case, our motivation behind not wanting to raise children was entirely selfish—we didn’t want kids to disrupt our comfortable lifestyle and routines. Plus, if you talked to parents our age, many sounded absolutely miserable. (So why would you knowingly subject yourself to a lifetime of misery??!!??) And we were scared … or at least, I was. I didn’t think I would be any good as a parent. I was good at my job, and I couldn’t imagine loving anything more. I know it sounds horrible to say that, both as a believer and now as a parent, but it’s true.

But God began to show me that my fears were because of a lack of trust in Him. I was so used to relying on my (God-given) talents and skills to do things in my own power; it freaked me out at the thought of turning control, and my life, totally over to Him to rely on for wisdom and guidance and strength like I never had before. Simultaneously, God was also working in David. We began to pray about it and felt peace that if a child was part of God’s plan for us, great … but if not, we were totally OK with that too.

Nine months later, our daughter Olivia was born.

And her birth—actually, the decision leading up to her birth to trust God wholly and fully—began to re-knit the very fabric that weaves the desires of my heart.

Still, I never gave a second thought that I would do anything other than work full-time, and when my 12 weeks of maternity leave was up, I happily returned and was offered the promotion to publisher. Olivia was in good care with my sister-in-law and mother, and I got to do what I loved. I thought it was the best of both worlds.

What I didn’t count on was that as the months progressed, I found that my loves—subtly at first, and then increasingly stronger—were shifting. Then we learned we would need to change our childcare arrangements … and as we sorted through the options, I didn’t know what to do. I longed to invest more time with Olivia, instead of in my career. Yet the fears of years past dug their claws deep into my mind. You won’t be any good at it. You will be bored. Stick with what you know. And the biggest, scariest one of all: You will fail.

As I wrestled with what to do, we sought counsel from our Pastor. He did not try to persuade us to make a decision either way, just lovingly probed our hearts with the truths of God’s Word. After patiently listening to our struggles with the extensive list of pros and cons for the various options for quite a while, he looked directly at me and carefully asked, “In which choice do you think you could love Christ more?”

And it all became crystal clear.

For me, I could learn to love Christ more if I trust Christ more. (Because so much of love is about trust, isn’t it?) Working full-time, albeit challenging, was the easy choice for me, because I knew I could do it (though foolishly) in my own strength. Caring for my daughter full-time—well, that was tough, because I could not do it without God’s help.

God was using the catalyst of parenthood in my life to teach me more about my walk with Him and making decisions that matter for eternity. Why wouldn’t I want to love and serve Christ more, after all He’d done for me through His death on the cross and the forgiveness of my sins so I could have a home in heaven? And if in order to love Christ more, I needed to trust Him more with His provision and plan for my life, then that was what I wanted to do.

So I traded spreadsheets for spit up, and stilettos for sweats. As for my fears, yes, I will (and do daily) fail. But God does not. When my weaknesses become ugly and apparent, He is teaching me that I can depend on Him to fill up my failures with His everlasting truths. And in turn, I can share those truths with Olivia. What a great reward!

Leaving behind my job—my first love—to pursue loving Christ more as a parent … as this year comes to an end, I can confidently say it’s the best career move I’ve ever made.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)