A Personal Evaluation of 2011

With 2011 officially gone today, I wanted to take one last look back on the year that was. This time I’m focusing more on a few of the experiences I’ve had in this past year and what God’s been teaching me through a number of these events. The short version is that 2011 was without a doubt one of the most peculiar years of my life so far. A lot of amazing events, more than a few frustrations but… as far as I can tell, it’s all been worth it.

Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights):

1. We found out we were expecting our third child. And this time, it’s a boy, which is very exciting. However, we’ve had an unusual amount of interest from family and friends in deciding upon his name. My friend Adam is holding out for “Hurricane” but I don’t think that’s going to happen (although that could make for a pretty awesome nickname if he’s as crazy as his big sister Hannah). We’re still praying about the final decision, but have something in mind.

What’s God teaching? In this case, to be very polite and patient with our family as they offer suggestions for this child’s name, even when we may or may not prefer some of said suggestions because they’re just excited.

2. Pitching a book—and seeing it released in the same year. More experienced folks have informed me that this is extremely unusual (from what I understand, the process is normally between 14-18 months). The pitch went out in mid-April (I was even able to pitch in person a couple times, which was a neat experience), the process of writing began in earnest in May (I’d been doing research for months prior), and… the book was released October 1.

What’s God teaching me? While writing, I was maintaining my full-time job, the blog, selling my home and trying to be a reasonably involved parent and husband. Even the fact that I was able to write it at all seems absurd, given the amount of work I tend to do. If I had to guess, I think God was showing me that when He wants something done, it’s going to get done, when He wants it done. He also reminded me that without a very patient and understanding wife, I’d be in a lot of trouble. This is especially important as I start work on sample chapters for a couple of new possible projects.

3. Burnout and the death of “performance-ism”. I came dangerously close to burning out toward the end of September/beginning of October. My job at times can be very stressful which generally I can handle. However, I also have an unfortunate problem with my personality type—I can easily begin to focus on issues over which I have no control and no ability to influence (the details aren’t important). My inability to deal with my stress was leading me to become increasingly irritable, have trouble sleeping and gain weight at a very fast rate, among other things.

What’s God teaching me? In late October, I travelled Phoenix to live blog the Together for Adoption Conference. The content was terrific, the time hanging out with Kaleb Sharmahorn and Steve & Molly McCoy was awesome… and somewhere between listening to Tullian preach and getting home, my stresses were gone.

*Poof*

I can’t really explain what happened there or what God was doing, but I think what God was teaching me through this was that I’d been holding onto a sense of “performance-ism”. I’m a pretty sharp guy and I’m capable of doing a lot of things (as evidenced by number 2). However, this can also be something of a curse as it’s easy to start putting my sense of worth in my own abilities, rather than the One who has given them to me. I must rely on my performance for my sense of value. Doing so only robs God of His glory and me of my joy.

That, in a nutshell, seems to be much of what God was teaching me through 2011. Hopefully I’ve been paying attention.

What’s one thing that God was teaching you throughout 2011? What are you going to do with it?

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  • Daniel Lyle

    Thanks for sharing point three and for being so transparent.  When I read that brief paragraph I felt like I was looking in a mirror.  I’ve had a very successful but very stressful year.  I was encouraged.  Thanks!

  • http://nwbingham.com/ Nathan W. Bingham

    Really appreciated this post Aaron. Thanks for being reflective and sharing.

  • http://philippians314.squarespace.com/ Kim Shay

    Well, I am older and have older children.  Two of the three are away at school, and in September 2012, the last one will fly the coop.  I’ve learned so much over the past year how restless I am with things I want to do with this extra time.  It has caused me to often be distracted and wander in my head.  I’m learning (as I have been all along, of course) to be patient and listen to God carefully.  When you have lots of extra time, you can end up wasting it, and I don’t want to do that.

  • http://sightregained.com Louis Tullo

    It’s amazing to read about all that happened in your life this past year. 2011 was certainly a year of growing and learning for me as well. I think the thing that helped me deal with my own tendency to “performance-ism” was surrounding myself with other godly men who were able to ask probing questions that forced me to examine all the things I chose to take on in my life. My girlfriend also helped in showing me the importance of evaluating how I spend my time and striving to always be present when I’m with her and not have my head in a million different places. :)

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  • Matthew W

    On names: on BBC’s Doctor Who, the Doctor says that a baby called himself “Stormageddon, Lord of All”. The doctor speaks Baby, of course. ( yay for sci fi!)