The idea of journaling conjures up a few images in our minds. You can see Doogie Howser type on the 1980’s blue computer screen. Some remember the journal they never quite continued from 2001. Others see this act of writing only for a particular group of people, but not for them.
I began journaling at a young age. The habit has evolved over the years. It started with simple reflections from Scripture and prayers, then moved to sharing the motivations and emotions of my heart.
One season of journaling stands out in particular. I started seeing a counselor after coming to grips with a painful event of my life. Each session, we would unpack the raw feelings. He journeyed with me by listening and helping me identify the lies. Our time ended with a writing assignment for me. These assignments included writing letters to those who hurt me, listing my anxieties and finding God’s grace to heal.
Journaling clued me into God’s work in my life during this terrible season. It brought me into a deeper understanding of maturity and growth.
You might think journaling as too touchy-feely or meant for others. All of us need space to record what’s happening inside of us. We can find ourselves running the treadmill of our minds without making any progress. Writing begins the steps of ordering our inner life. It tangibly uncovers words that we might not have freely spoken.
Gordon MacDonald in Ordering Your Private World says this about his experience in journaling:
No longer could fears and struggles remain inside without definition. They were surfaced and named. And I became aware, little by little, that God’s Holy Spirit was directing many of the thoughts I wrote. On paper, I felt that God and I were carrying on a personal communion. He was helping me, in the words of David, to “search my heart.” He was prodding me to put words to my fears, shape to my doubts. And when I was candid about it, then there would often come out of Scripture or from the meditations of my own heart the reassurances, the rebukes, and the admonishments that I so badly needed. But this began to happen only when the journal was employed (pg. 156)
Here are four reasons to start or restart journaling on a regular basis in your life:
1. Become aware of the activity of your inner life.
Like Gordon MacDonald or anyone else with experience in journaling, this practice brings clarity to the deepest part of ourselves. We learn to order our thoughts and translates the deepest motivations of our hearts. In doing so, God in his grace brings to light where we can grow.
2. Speak uninhibitedly without any interruption.
When we have time alone in our thoughts, we can vent and process without stopping. Journaling organizes our thoughts, so that when we share in authenticity with others we can help them understand us. Rather than going in circles or having to re-explain ourselves.
3. Practice remembering.
Writing helps us remember. We need the reminders of not just the dark seasons, but the beauty of life. November started yesterday which means a season of gratitude. Remembering reveals growth and helps us through each season.
4. Provide a space for silence and solitude.
Often, silence and solitude can seem passive. You might have this picture of sitting and doing nothing. Though the act of doing nothing has importance, sometimes we can move in silence. Journaling invites us to hear to God without the noise.
How has journaling benefited you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Photo credit by Thomas Martinsen.