One thing I always hated about having a corporate job was performance evaluations. Not that I didn’t appreciate the feedback, or the subsequent raise, but the whole process was nerve-wracking, and also served to remind me that I was valued for what I did (and how well I did it), not for who I was.
Since I’ve been my own boss for the last seven years, regular performance evaluations are a distant unpleasant memory, nearly all but forgotten about, especially this year as God’s been working to remind me that He values me not for what I do, but for who I am, and that I don’t have to work to earn my place or strive for advancement in this life He’s given me.
So it may seem odd that, here at the half-year mark, I felt compelled to pause and look back over my progress so far this year and carefully plan my agenda for the next six months. Not so much to evaluate my performance, whether as a writer, a freelancer, a wife or just a person, but to make sure I’m on track with seeking first His will and leaning into what He’s doing in my life (in case you forgot, my One Word for this year back in January was “lean“).
The first half of the year was pretty full. It was certainly productive — I wrote most of a whole novel, revised two more of my own novels and a novella, released two of those into the wilds of the Amazon, edited a novel for a client, and wrote more freelance articles than I can keep track of.
But more importantly, I’ve had some pretty major spiritual breakthroughs as God’s been helping me release my iron grip on the steering wheel of my life, surrender more and more control to Him, and embrace the person He made me to be. I think the biggest breakthrough was the realization that I had bought into some lies about myself that the enemy has been speaking to me my entire life, and coming to a place of deep healing over my past, rejecting those lies and embracing God’s truth about me (I wrote in more detail about those breakthroughs here and here).
Another major theme of this year so far has been growing more fully into who God created me to be and understanding that I was made this way, with this personality and these specific talents, giftings AND limitations, for a purpose. Understanding that I was made on purpose to be a dreamer and a thinker and an introvert and a slow processor, and that by embracing these things about myself and honoring them I honor Him.
So what will the next six months hold?
I can’t say for certain. I expect these themes to continue. I know there are specific things that need to be done, including finishing my current novel and getting it revised in time for the August deadline, and gearing up for the launch of my debut novel in October. There are things I want to do–other writing projects I want to work on, and personal and household projects–and things I hope to do, including a steady stream of freelance work.
But one thing the last six months have taught me is that it’s best to hold my plans loosely and look to Him to direct my steps and establish my work. During my break the last two weeks, I spent a lot of time praying for direction for the next six months, but rather than a specific agenda, I was given some guidelines for going forward:
- Stay surrendered. Keep leaning into what God’s doing. Build altars, not stages. Build benches, not cities.
- Don’t fear the future. Remember it’s in His hands. Focus on each day as it comes.
- Don’t focus too much on making money. Trust God to provide as you do the work He directs you into (this is a big deal. As a freelancer with an unsteady income, money has always been the driving factor in choosing what I work on, but that hasn’t really gotten me anywhere good, so I’m ready to try it God’s way).
- Forget “should.” Figure out what works for us and do that. No comparing.
- Do only what you can do (this is a principle I picked up from Loving My Actual Life — similar to my philosophy of “just do what you can do and leave the rest to God”).
- Just keep writing and leave the results to Him.
It will be interesting to see what the next six months will hold. To be honest, I’d hoped back in January that this would be the year our lives finally turned a major corner for the better, and six months in, with circumstances much the same now as they were then (albeit attitudes and perspectives have changed), I’ve been a bit disheartened. But I’ve been receiving a lot of encouragement lately that things will get better, it’s just going to take more time–time in which we need to be yielding to the work He’s doing in us to prepare us for what’s next. Because I think that what’s in store for us is going to blow our minds.
Have you paused for a mid-year evaluation? Do you have the rest of the year mapped out? Any big breakthroughs or accomplishments this year so far that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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