MY LIFE DIDN’T GO ACCORDING TO MY PLAN—AND IT’S MORE LIFE-GIVING AND FULFILLING THAN I COULD HAVE IMAGINED.
BY ERIN STEELE
According to a 2013 study published in The Atlantic, the average age to marry in the U.S. is 27 for women and 29 for men. The correlated article noted that college-educated women marrying later are likely to have a higher annual income than those who marry earlier. In 2013, studies like this one stuck to me as fact, being a new graduate with big plans for herself—moving to a big city, delving into a marketing career, and making enough money to live independently while still enjoying life’s little luxuries.
Looking back, I would love to see the look on my 22-year-old face if I told her that she would meet the man of her dreams at a brewery, reject a dream job with a big L.A. marketing firm, be married within a couple years while still in San Diego with an engineering-based job, and be haphazardly fired from that job another three years after that … yet still be happier than she could ever be because it was exactly where God had placed her.
Now, coming up on the one-year anniversary of being married to an amazing man who has grown alongside me in our walk with the Lord, I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have but to also do everything I do with purpose, and in the name of Jesus.
Colossians 3:17 reads, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Admittedly, three and a half years ago, I translated this as, “I will be the career woman I’ve always imagined myself being. In the name of the Lord.”
It wasn’t until recently I realized doing “whatever [I] do, whether in word or deed,” didn’t necessarily mean doing whatever it was I had planned for myself in the name of Jesus. Being as stubborn as a mule, it took God’s will of pulling me away from a busy work life to what seemed like a dead halt. Putting so much of my personal value into my work and title, this loss felt devastating. Immediately I began searching for positions, reaching out to contacts and, one after another, I was turned down—even from positions that I knew I had in the bag. It was the strangest thing, and with every rejection I felt my confidence being scraped away because my personal value was tied so much in my work when it shouldn’t have been.
So I started busying myself with little hobbies throughout the week and between job searches. Sometimes I thought they were a little useless when it came to finding me a job, and, in all reality, they were. But I needed something to pass the time and rest my eyes from a pixelated computer screen. I studied new recipes (I learned how to fluff an egg, made a meringue, perfected a recipe for chocolate chip cookies), studied some helpful home economic lessons, created a spreadsheet to manage our household budgets, started catching up with old friends and family, and picked up painting again. I felt like I was becoming a person that I didn’t know; no work-related traveling, no meetings, no negotiations or team projects. I felt like I was becoming a house wife—and I was—but it wasn’t until a couple weeks in that I realized that wasn’t a bad thing at all. I knew I had to start things myself and if anything, this time off allowed me to build discipline and personal growth to find out what I was good at—what mattered to me. Knowing how to care for of our tiny apartment to make it a home wasn’t something I was used to doing, but it was such a refreshing, rewarding objective that I enjoyed doing. Looking at a clean apartment with a happy husband at the end of the day gave me something to be proud of.
A few weeks later, my recipes had improved, I started a small art collection that became part of a small art business, and started working alongside my husband as a marketing director for his family company.
At first, the idea of working with Brandon worried me because working side by side with your husband isn’t for everyone, and I’ve been one for categorizing my life—my husband is my husband at home, my co-worker is my co-worker at work. It’s been about two and a half months now, and I can’t complain! In working together, we’ve both learned to lean on each other so well in providing the support and pushing each other in day-to-day activities.
With an understanding of this new intuition—listening to the Lord and doing things that are life-giving in His name—the two of us are entering a new chapter of our life with a new perspective.
With every day that passes, I remind myself that sometimes trivial-looking things mean so much more than they do at first glance. If they calm your heart, give you happiness and allow God to speak to you, they’re valuable experiences.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin L. Steele spent her childhood traveling the world as the Air Force allowed her family to explore exciting new places. After graduating from San Diego State University with a B.S. in marketing, she took on a dueling position as a product manager and marketing specialist in the gaming industry. Today, she is a marketing director for her family’s company by day, an artist/outdoor enthusiast by night (and weekends), and a wife to her beloved husband of almost a year 24/7. To see some of her most recent artwork, click here.