I know we are uniquely wired so what is burning for me today may not even cause a spark of recognition for you. But I can’t help myself; I have to talk about how amazing it is to capture life in a journal.
The other day I was going through bookshelves for donations in my never – ending effort to lighten the load of stuff; I picked up a journal of mine from two years ago. I began to thumb through some of the entries and I ended up sitting down on the floor amazed by the goodness of God. As I read, I revisited quotes I had captured from books I’d been reading at the time, snippets of Scripture, reflections on my days and prayers I had offered. It was in those prayers I was struck by the beauty of making time to journal; I was able to see the changes that God alone has wrought in me. Many of the struggles I was walking through then have been resolved; not all in the ways I had prayed but in God’s perfect way and timing.
My thoughts would have slipped away, the story of my life gone without notice, had I not practiced the discipline of journaling.
I call it a discipline because I really believe that anything we don’t do automatically, like breathe and have a heart beat, is up to us to form as habits. The time of day you eat, what you eat, when you sleep, how you practice self-care, whether or not you regularly do anything, are all up for grabs without habits.
The habit of jotting down thoughts or author’s quotes or passages of Scripture that speak to me has had the effect of slowing me down, pausing to reflect, deepening me in ways I would never have planned. Looking back on what I heard from God’s Word, capturing what I ask for in my life or for others has produced my personal Old Testament. I can read and remember what God has done and can tell others, testify, of the goodness of God.
I haven’t always been really pretty in my writing in these journals. I have given myself permission to write freely, authentically, so grammar, spelling and editing are out the window. But something else has emerged through my freedom of expression; I have been raw and transparent without editing too. Freeing myself from conventions has given my voice room to speak out my thoughts and heart hurts, giving voice to my prayers that I can say God has blessed.
I am not religious about journaling. I don’t journal every day. Some journals I haven’t filled. I started journaling in high school through the genre of poetry; I didn’t want what I was talking about to be translated by an uninvited reader! So my early journals really reflect my bondage even through expression. Over the years as God has freed me and I am continuing to learn to walk in that abundant freedom, my journals reflect those changes. It is glorious to see evidence of God at work!
What are your thoughts about journaling? If you’ve not developed this habit, “it’s never too late to be what you might have been” to quote George Eliot.
What’s keeping you?