Buckle up. This is going to be a long ride.
For weeks, I have been wrestling with these words, trying to figure out what pieces to share and how to say them.
Because the truth is, I don’t owe anyone this story.
Yet, the words of a trusted friend and mentor keep ringing through my head, “Jessy, your strength is your vulnerability.”
And my core values – authenticity and curiosity – keep beating on my chest, begging to be let out. So here we go… here is my story in this season.
A week and a half ago, I left my day job at Purpose + Grit and I went back the banking career that I had worked for over a decade prior to 2020.
Before you start the “Oh what a shame” sappy dialogue, please hear me out. This is not a woe-is-me post. This is an honest open conversation about the struggles of entrepreneurship and trusting the next right thing.
Over the last two and a half years, I have openly shared many bits of my story. You’ve seen how the death of my sister changed me, how I decided to launch Gritty Faith Magazine to hold space for hard stories, and how I stepped into the creative life of an artist and writer bit by bit, to slowly claim what God had put on my heart.
When I left my job in the banking world in February of 2020, I had big dreams of growing Gritty Faith Magazine into a massive subscriber list, speaking on stages, and hosting workshops. I thought I had it all planned out as I arranged contract work as a side gig to get me through until everything was in place.
Then less than a month after I began this journey, COVID hit. The pandemic thwarted my plans as I lost every speaking gig, every workshop opportunity, and the contract work disappeared.
I was devastated and uncertain where to go next. As I fumbled through homeschooling my kids the rest of that school year, I leaned into art, painting my prayers when I could not find the words. Even though I had been teaching this technique for well over a year by this point and had been using art as a form of prayer for all my life, that time felt exceptionally vulnerable with God. I silently prayed “why now?” with each brushstroke as my dreams were being ripped out from underneath me before they even had a chance to grow.
From that place of vulnerability, I began sharing the stories behind my artwork with all of you… and through those conversations, I decided to offer my original artwork for sale for the first time in May 2020. I was blown away as my work resonated with you all, giving me the confidence to finally claim the title, Artist, and just enough hope to keep on going.
Later in that summer of 2020, my family experienced several significant events as we moved the storefront from Norway Center into Alcester, moved into a new home ourselves, cared for my in-laws as they fought difficult battles with COVID, and ultimately said goodbye to my father-in-law as he passed away from it.
By the end of 2020, I was battle-weary. I had no idea how to keep my dream alive. Out of pure curiosity one day, I created the first Prayer Art jewelry collection when I stumbled across a bin of jewelry supplies and a segment of a painting in a drawer. Those 4 chance necklaces I created out of curiosity were scooped up by a customer 15 minutes after they were placed on the shelf. From that little nudge of inspiration, an entire line was created—the jhp, Prayer Art line. Over the course of the next year, I created hundreds of pieces of unique jewelry from artwork and the prayer cards, prints, blankets, pillows, and greeting cards that spun off from the original designs.
To put it simply, in 2021, I worked my butt off. Some weeks I handmade over 100 pieces of jewelry on top of handling everything from website development, marketing, bookwork, shipping, product design, and photography. For a year, I was on a high, easily working 60-70+ hours a week. I was focused on one thing—bringing my dream to life. Everything else fell by the wayside.
By January, I was running on steam. I had pushed myself too far in every way possible—physically, creatively, financially, emotionally, mentally. I had hit my max and sure I had built myself a business with revenue well over six figures that year, but I had nothing to show for it. The expenses were through the roof in every way possible—costing me my mental and physical health, my relationships, my savings, and my general wellbeing.
I entered 2022 knowing something had to change. I deeply loved the work I was doing, but I knew it was not sustainable in its current form. I began experimenting, desperately seeking what would hold, what would give me the balance I needed as a solo-entrepreneur who was striving to support both her busy family and her young business.
With every failed attempt at finding the next right thing, my mental health started tanking further. As inflation rose and sales dropped, I sunk into a deep place. I have never been in as dark of a hole as I found myself in the last few months. Something had to change.
I was spending too much time measuring numbers – because numbers equal success in so many ways, at least to the outside world. Numbers prove we are surviving and thriving. Numbers give us the basis to stand on, evidence that what we are doing is worthwhile.
And my numbers—at least in my mind—were showing complete failure as I wasn’t measuring up to the goals I had set. As I wallowed in the pit of despair and shame, God began shining in little rays of sunlight through the muck to show me the truth.
Truth through book excerpts, as my favorite lines showed up in my newsfeeds and dog-eared pages.
Truth in songs, as lyrics from my past whispered in my ears once again.
Truth in testimony as women showed up in my inbox to share stories of how my work was resonating in their own trials.
Truth in tear-stained hugs at the close of workshops as women pulled me in close to share connection.
Truth by truth, God kept tallying up the ways this work mattered… teaching me new math with an equation that didn’t involve numbers, just authentic connection. Proof that this work is worthwhile even when the spreadsheet doesn’t add up.
After much wrestling with things I still do not understand, I decided there was only one choice to make:
Give up this dream or keep leaning in.
Knowing that I was still tapped out on every level, I began seeking a different job opportunity. As sad as I was to make that decision, I knew I was losing myself in the current struggle.
That decision, brought me to a conversation and an offer…
To work a job that I already know how to do well, with people that I genuinely care about, just blocks from my house, with the ability to get my kids off to school in the morning and eat lunch at my own kitchen table. The job I left 2 1/2 years ago.
And the kicker… with the full support to continue to do the work that I love within Purpose + Grit… at a more manageable pace of course.
The next right thing was exactly where I left it. Full circle.
This is what gritty faith looks like for me in this season.
And then dusting myself off to do it all over again and again.
The thing is, we all have to be reminded from time to time that the best things in life are the hardest things. They are the things worth fighting for.
Not a single good thing comes to us without wrestling, without fighting, without boldly claiming it as ours.
So, I will rest, not quit. I will harness new strength from a new source so I can keep on doing the creative work I love.
I will keep on pouring art and words from my soul into yours. I will keep on holding space for hard stories of faith in action.
Because it is worth fighting for. This work matters so dang much.
It is said that you make time for the things that are important to you. This work is important to me. It is life-giving in more ways than I can describe. Because it is meaningful to me, I will reserve bandwidth for it… so it exists.
Here is what you can expect from me and Purpose + Grit going forward:
Gritty Faith Magazine will continue to be published quarterly. It will be supported through story sponsorships, advertisements, and subscriptions. We will continue to offer a free digital version so it reaches as far as it can as well as the paid physical version. (Subscribers will continue to have access to The Evidence Journey as well and content will be added to it quarterly.)
If you believe Gritty Faith needs to exist, I invite you to support it in one of these ways.
jhp, Prayer Art Collections will release throughout the year with no set schedule. I’m letting my creativity lead. You can find available collections in the online shop and you will be notified of new collections in your email and in the Insiders Facebook Group.
Golden Thread Club will continue with its monthly happy mail. To sign up go here.
Workshops, retreats, and events will be few and far between as I refocus. If you have questions, hit reply to email me.
If you also believe that the work happening within Purpose + Grit is worth fighting for, then I am asking you to create bandwidth for it too.
Your support matters.
Keep seeking the next right thing, it's there. (I promise.)
P.S. Want to know just how awesome God is... clear back last fall He named the August issue of Gritty Faith, Leaning In. (Yep, I have goosebumps too.) Reserve your copy here.
P.P. S. Even though these last couple years were filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows, I have learned so much about who I am that I will never look back with regret. Every moment was worth the wrestling. Take risks. Fail forward. Reach out. Again, and again. You are not alone. I'm cheering for you and your big dreams too. There is still more to come.