I forget how young I was when I first heard someone say that everyone should keep a journal. Somehow I got my hands on a pretty new journal notebook, and I made a solemn decision to write it in daily for the rest of my life.
So I started writing in it. I wrote whatever seemed to be the most noteworthy things in my young mind at the moment. And I kept it up daily… for a week or two, if it was even that long.
I repeated the whole process a number of times growing up, until the whole thing almost disgusted me. Oh… and I also added throwing out the ones that I started because I was embarrassed by what I had written. (Now, of course, I would love to get my hands on those so I could laugh at what I thought as a girl.)
It wasn’t until I was well into my 20’s that I realized that a journal doesn’t have to be regularly written in to be worth while. It also occurred to me that I could keep my Bible notes from church or Bible study in the same journal. And when I realized those two things, not only did my journal writing take off, but so also did my revelations of God. I found that when I wrote my thoughts and questions down on paper, it slowed me down enough that I was able to also start hearing God’s voice. See… I tend to be one of those people whose brain is constantly going a million miles an hour. On the rare occasions that it slows to a crawl, my husband usually asks me if I’m all right because I act like I’m in a daze compared to my usual self! LOL
Realistically… saying I think a million miles an hour is exaggerating… it’s probably a lot more accurate to say that it goes at about 800 words a minute. I once timed myself reading at about 500 words a minute, and I’ve found myself thinking things in-between lines of a book, so that should be about right. Sooo… even though I type at “only” 100 words per minute, it still forces my brain to slow down. When I kept my journal with pen and paper, instead of on the computer like I do now, it slowed me down even more. (I got tired of how long it took to hand write things out when typing is so much faster, so I switched two years ago. Plus, now it’s searchable. And when I pour my heart out in an email to someone, I can copy and paste that into my journal as well! I’m a child of the digital age, all right! *smile*)
So what I found was that when I forced my brain to slow down by writing/typing out my thoughts and feelings and questions, I gave God a chance to get a word in edgewise! That’s putting it bluntly, but I think it also puts it accurately.
Now I fire up the computer to write in my journal whenever I’ve got something majorly on my mind. Sometimes it helps so much, just to “get it out.” And I write in it when God shows me something fantastic… and when I’m going ‘round and ‘round in my head about something and I’m not getting any closer to a solution.
And when I don’t feel like I have anything to write about… when I feel empty… like God is a million miles away… I can open it up even then. Because if I ask God to show me a little something special, and then open my Bible… all I have to do is read until a verse makes me pause for some reason. Sometimes I pause with a “wow” and sometimes with a question, but if I start writing those thoughts in my journal, then I find myself writing things that I’m only just then realizing for the first time… and by the time I’m done with my journal entry, I realize that God has spoken to me again. Then I go write that date in the margin of my Bible… so any time I come across that verse and want to be reminded of what God showed me about it, all I have to do is open my journal to that date, and there it is.
My journal is not constant at all… I’ll go for months without writing much of anything, and then I’ll write pages every day for weeks on end. But that’s okay, too. Now I can go back through four years of journals and I see the value in them. Even the entries that seem young and childish to me now, are still valuable because I can learn from them. It is also a wonderful way to really see how far God has brought you.
So I’ll add my name to the list of those who recommend journal keeping. If you’ve tried in the past, or thought about it, but never gotten into it, then give it another shot. Just let go of any pre-conceived ideas of what it should be like. If you’re not someone who puts your ideas down on paper easily, then just stick them down there like a list… whatever works for you. I’ve heard of artists whose journals are filled with sketches of images that meant something to them, along with a few words explain what it meant. Even a bulleted list of verses that mean something to you, along with whatever God showed you in them will be valuable to you.
Just write from your heart…