Isn’t journaling just for those who are good with words and writing? Actually, journaling is for anyone who can write anything, even a couple words.
Journaling slows us down. Like building a dam across a rapidly flowing stream, journaling stops the cascade of our experiences long enough for us to see and examine them.
Journaling helps us be honest with ourselves–to truthfully and carefully observe and question ourselves.
Journaling helps us recognize our emotions. In order to describe our emotions, we need to first identify them.
Expressing our helpful emotions (compassion, awe, gratitude) to God can augment and expand them. Expressing our unhelpful emotions (resentment, jealousy, hurt) to God may dampen or drain their energy and expose them to the Spirit’s healing.
Emotions are very, very valuable. First, emotions are indicators (barometers) of what is happening inside us. Second, passions and emotions are the powerhouse of our actions. Without passion and emotion, we are depressed, apathetic, dull, unmoving and unmotivated. God is the source of all our godly desires and passions, such as our desire to know God and our passion to serve the poor or defend the oppressed.
Awareness of emotions, desires and passions helps us harness and channel them for God.If we are unaware of our emotions, they are likely to rule us in hidden, undesirable ways. Why not look at our emotions with God and allow Him both to shape them and to tap into that power within us?
Journaling helps us problem-solve and live more intentionally. We want to live examined lives, to act instead of reacting. Journaling gives us an opportunity to live thoughtfully instead of accidentally.
Journaling helps us to better see, hear, and understand God. God speaks through Scripture; through others; through art, music and poetry; through Creation; and through all that is happening in our lives. No part of our lives is irrelevant for journaling. Journaling about God’s activities in our lives develops a clearer picture of God.
Journaling records history. By noticing and recalling God’s actions in our lives, gratefulness may increase. By reviewing our journals periodically, we can see trends or patterns and we can better remember what we have learned from God and about God. Scripture is a journal of God’s actions in history and an interpretation of those actions.
Journaling savors God’s work. Remembering and savoring can be an act of worship, which is one reason God established annual festivals for His people.
How do I journal? There is no “right” way!
Freely express yourself. Forget correct grammar. Try to consciously notice and record both your feelings and thoughts.
Use words, phrases or sentences; poetry or prose; photos, doodles, drawings or magazine cut-outs. Copy down Scripture verses, quotes, or stories. Record your prayers and conversations with God.
Review your entries periodically. Mine them for spiritual gold. Look for trends and patterns. Be grateful for what God has done in your life.
If you’re not sure what to “talk about” in your journal, you may want to consider one or more of the following questions:
- What is your image of God? Has it changed over time? If so, how?
- To Whom do you pray (which Person of the Trinity)? Has that changed?
- How are you aware of God during the day? Where did you notice God today?Yesterday?
- Have you had any dreams lately that seem to have spiritual significance? If so, record them and pray with them. What does God seem to be saying to you?
- How do you make decisions? What have been the results of past decisions? How did/do you sense God’s leading?
- What is your calling in life? Has your understanding of your calling changed over time? If so, how?
- What is your prayer life like? What do you want for your prayer life?
- How might you be stuck or holding back from God?
- What scripture passages or quotes have been particularly meaningful to you and why?
- What questions do you have for God?
- What do you want from God?
- What does God want to heal in you and your life?
- What has God been showing you? Teaching you?
- How is God inviting you to grow?
Journaling daily will help you both process and remember. We have an enemy who will attempt to snatch away what God is trying to do for our sake. Jotting down what was noticed or heard from God, especially right after spiritual direction sessions, helps safeguard and “keep” what God is doing in our hearts, minds, and lives.