It is early morning and the only sound I hear is the coffee pot clicking away and the black gold slowly dripping into the pot. It is still dark and as I wait for the morning light and my favorite drink, I review the summer’s writing in my journal. I laugh and I cry. One more summer added to the 15 recorded so far in my life. One more summer of God’s handiwork in my life. I wonder…will I ever figure this thing out? Life. Fifteen plus years of grappling, seeking, growing, turning, changing, transforming, answers to prayers and encouragement – recorded.
This was the summer of learning to draw on Him for every need out of total trust. This was the summer I learned to be real with God. The summer of early mornings filled with reading Psalms and crying out to God like David. The summer where the rubber hit the road. The summer I asked…”do I have a living active faith?” Today I was encouraged as I read over my summer entries to keep going on this journey of journaling and to encourage others to join me. I was reminded of how I come to understand my life as I write, that I remember better as I record these things, that I can be encouraged when I look at the recorded life and that I can pass all of this down to the next generation. I can pass God’s work in my life on to the next generation.
But how does one start a habit of writing down the days?
The most important rule to remember when journaling is this: BE REAL WITH THE REAL GOD. After that, there are no rules.
There is not a list of rules to worry about! Maybe this is the real reason I love to journal!
This is one of the most freeing activities that you and I can engage in! We can just be who we are, where we are, each day that we journal.
FREEDOM…to write in anything and anywhere. On a computer in the office. In a beautiful bound leather journal near a stream, river, lake or ocean. In a simple lined one dollar notebook on a living room couch. We are free to make this frugal or luxurious or both.
FREEDOM…from the public rules of writing. No grammar teacher or creative writing professor looking over our shoulder…with a red pen. Just me and God. I can write crazy, scribbled, half-written sentences!
FREEDOM…to speak to God from a real place – my true, current circumstances, emotions, feelings and mistakes. I often read a Psalm if possible before writing to familiarize myself with the Psalmists’ crying out to God in joy, anger and sadness. The pattern of the Psalms is the pattern I seek to have in my own writing. A crying out that ends in hope.
FREEDOM…to be me. My journal is a hodgepodge of recordings of events and feelings and also letters and prayers to God. I go back and forth amongst these things…sometimes within the same paragraph! It is truly my life, my feelings about it and my crying out to God about it. It is me in my most pure form. G. Lynn Nelson in Writing and Being says this, “A journal is ‘a room of one’s own,’ that private, quiet place we must have if we are to survive and grow. I do not receive guests in my journal, so I do not have to keep it neat and orderly and clean. I throw anything in it – in any form – never knowing what may turn out to be valuable. It is my place to let go of formal constraints, to be crazy and creative, to take off my masks, to be me, to find me.”
Many people journal just to record things about events and feelings. This is alright and some of my journaling is made up of that. My best writing, though is the writing that brings God into it. The overall theme of my journal is most definitely “What God is Doing in my Life.” The reason I propose the importance of journaling in life and encourage others to join me is this: so that the people of God may be able to say with confidence what He is doing in their lives. By looking back and being reminded of His faithfulness, we can be encouraged and emboldened to go forward each day in whatever circumstances lay before us.
REMEMBER THAT ONE RULE? To be REAL with the REAL God. What I mean by that is this–that many of us, including myself, may have grown up thinking of God inaccurately…perhaps even thinking of ourselves innacurately. It is imporant to discover or see (this usually happens during the journaling process) where we do that. Are we able to see God as a loving forgiving Father or do we see him as a harsh task-master? Do we see ourselves mostly as a challenged worm-like sinner or do we know that we are a new creation in Christ able now to say no to sin through the power of the Holy Spirit ? As important as it is to understand how we think of ourselves and of God, it is equally important to correct it (if need be) with Scripture. So in order to interact with the real God and to look at ourselves correctly, it is vitally important to include scripture in the journaling process. I try to start each journaling time with reading of scripture and prayer.
Freely writing while seeking to be real and seeking to know the real God is life transforming. When we do it, we are creating a work to be treasured for ourselves and the next generation.
The next part in this journaling series will go into some exercises to help you get going. I look forward to writing with you!
Photo taken from Google search. No artist named.
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