After achieving the feat of being Freshly Pressed, a sort of fear can set in, along with negative thoughts like these: “I’m going to screw up!” “My next effort won’t be as good!” “I’ll disappoint all these new readers!” Happily, I’ve only had these feelings mildly, and they’re not sticking around. Instead of fear, I mostly feel hope. Rather than daunting me, the Freshly Pressed Status has buoyed my confidence as a writer (a writer whose work people want to read!), and it has encouraged me.
The Surface Answer
So, you want to know how to get Freshly Pressed? (Before last Tuesday, I wondered that, too.) The easy answer is that you just have to keep writing and hope one of your posts gets picked. On the day I produced my “pressed” post, I was just doing my regular thing. I was praying and reading the Bible like I do every morning, then I started scribbling about the issues my prayer time had revealed to me. I let the writing sit for a weekend, and then on a busy Tuesday when I almost didn’t think I’d post, I tweaked a bit, paired it with a picture, and posted. It was one of the easiest pieces I’ve published, in fact, because I didn’t expect much out of it—not like some past posts I’d edited into mincemeat (hoping to be “pressed”).
It was a complete and total surprise when, three hours later, my inbox greeted me with: “Congratulations! You’ve been Freshly Pressed!” For the next few days I soaked up the extra comments, likes, and follows—and thanked God for blessing me when I wasn’t even asking.
The Deep Answer
Maybe that’s a key to receiving blessings: to stop trying to force them.
I think back to the small string of writing successes I’ve had so far. (You can liken my writing to whatever dream you’ve carried for most of your life.) In all honesty, when I’ve succeeded in writing, I wasn’t much expecting it. Conversely, when I’ve most expected to succeed, often I’ve actually flopped.
I know I’ve talked to God a lot over the years about my dreams. Heck, he was aware of these goals even before my birth. But when I started chasing them in the beginning, it was like I wanted God on call, ready to answer at the moment I asked. I was selfish (not that I’m a saint today, but I’m slowly learning patience). I wanted to be published, and I wanted it when I wanted it, in the way I wanted it.
Some Instructive “Flops”
In 2010 I prepared a manuscript based on my “oh-so-interesting” teenage journals and figured this just had to be my first book. After a pause in the project, during which time I encountered some pushback from one of the main “characters” in the memoir, I realized maybe this sensitive material wasn’t yet “book-ready.”
In 2011, when I was re-entering graduate school with the dual goals of professing and writing, I identified a PhD in Creative Writing program one hour away from me that I thought would be “so much better” than the bland rhetoric program I was currently in. So I fretted my way through months of manuscript and application preparation, then lay awake at night with knots, willing and wanting so badly for this to work out—only to be rejected a few months later.
In 2012 I tried again, this time a distance MFA program that specifically catered to writers of faith. This, I was sure, was the vehicle through which I would make my plans—my plans—happen. Only, I didn’t get in.
Today I’m not sorry I attempted that now-dead manuscript and those fruitless applications. I think it was good for me to try, especially since I felt God nudging me toward writing and I didn’t sense him expressly forbidding those things. Where I went wrong was becoming too bull-headed to recognize that God had other, better ways to make my dreams come true besides those few paths I could see.
Doing Our Part, Letting God Do His
So it is with any endeavor. Maybe we don’t exactly know if the thing we want is the same thing God wants, but we feel it might be. In that case, I believe our part is to work faithfully—do our homework, hone our craft, practice it, and perform it to the best of our ability (so we are not presuming on God)—but after we’ve done that, we should let go and let God.
When we live our lives like that, quietly and diligently doing those things that (to the best of our knowledge) God has appointed us to do, we might just be pleasantly surprised one day when our faithful efforts pay off. Since I’ve made writing a part of my daily routine (and dropped those arbitrary, self-imposed expectations, such as “the writing has to result in X”), I’ve had a few of those pleasant surprises, including three published (and paying!) magazine articles, a co-book project, and most recently a Freshly Pressed blog post.
It’s fun to get good news when you’re not expecting it. That’s not to say we shouldn’t expect good things from the hand of God. We should. But we shouldn’t try to dictate what those things will be. As I’ve learned, God has a vast storehouse of blessings for me that I’m not able to see—and it’s bigger and better than anything I could ever come up with.
Today my prayer is that I will faithfully do the task God has given me while letting God be God, trusting that he will reward me according to his promises and for the purpose of his glory. If you need to get re-centered on what really matters today, I recommend reading Psalm 119 in its entirety, as I did this morning.
Dear Lord, “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 119: 36-38)
Congratulations Lindsey. Your writing is definitely deserving of Freshly Pressed! Last friday was my good news day with a similar email and can identify with that great feeling. Thanks for this post and again Congrats!
Thanks Mike! I’m sure it’s only a matter of time for you, too. Glad you had some good news in the past week, too!
Wow, I love this. This applies to me in so many ways – writing #1, but so many other things. We are trying to have a baby, and I fall into the same temptation…trying to make things happen without factoring in what God’s will and purposes might be. Thanks so much for writing this today. God really used you to speak to me. And that – I think – is the best use of this great gift of words.
What a humbling comment! So glad this spoke to you today. I just have to remember this for myself…I do tend to forget some of the great lessons I’ve learned, and I’m sure I’ll need this one again, soon! I pray that the baby (or whatever God has for you) happens in his time and fulfills your desires. For myself, I never thought I wanted kids–not for the first seven years of my marriage. When I finally dealt with a lot of my other issues, God awakened the kids desire in me, and we got pregnant within three months of trying. Sometimes getting the mind off the big goal seems to bring a breakthrough. I don’t know how it works, or how God works, but he does. Blessings to you!
I really appreciate your sharing your journey, of persevering even when the original plan didn’t work. I tend to turn abruptly away from something when it doesn’t play out, when perhaps I should keep trying in a slightly different way.
Thank you for your honesty as well. It is easy to get discouraged, and I have many times. I find life goes better as I stay connected to God, though. He gives me wisdom I could never have otherwise.
I just had the long start of a long comment here and the computer spasmed or something. Yikes. Anyway, congrats on the Freshly Pressed AND the acceptances, Lindsey. You so deserve them. In a nutshell, what I was starting to say was that for me those blessings come to me as a sort of blindsiding–when I am least expecting them.
Thanks very much Luanne! (Or do you go by Lu?) Blindsiding is a good word–and it’s good for a person’s faith, too. Reminds us that things don’t have to happen on our timeline!
Thank you for your post! This has really inspired me.
Glad to have you reading!
Yes and Amen!