I began my first journal when I was ten years old. The idea of keeping a journal had always appealed to me, as I loved to write and notebooks, paper, and pens were a few of my favorite things.
I opened up a purple shimmery spiral-bound notebook from the dollar store, sharpened a pencil, and began to write. Once I started, I didn’t stop filling the pages with random happenings of the day, ways my siblings annoyed me, and stories, plans, and dreams covered the pages, transcribed in chunky, printed pencil letters.
I journal to remember
For years I kept my journals on and off, always filling them with girlish secrets and thoughts that filled my head, begging to be let out on the paper.
Over time my journal entries began to change. I filled the pages with less of my silly disappointments and secrets (life as a 13-15-year-old felt very tumultuous), and more with memories, I wanted to remember, prayers I prayed in my heart, and truths I was learning.
Although I cringe to read what I wrote in the earliest notebooks I filled, I am thankful for what they contain. I am grateful to see how I have grown and matured and what God has done in my life.
I especially love to go back and read my thoughts from my first semester of college, when I had so much uncertainty and fear. The entries are filled with doubts and worries, but they are also underlined with admiration and excitement. After I met Sam the first couple weeks of school, my journal began to be filled with everything he did and said, and prayers asking God what it all meant.
Now I look at my life and see the amazing way He answered those prayers!
I journal to think more clearly.
While it has gotten better as I’ve gotten older, I often find myself struggling to speak words when they would simply flow out on the page. Something seemed to click in my mind when I put pen to paper and my thoughts were unlocked.
I noticed this especially as Sam and I dated. He would ask me questions and opinions, and I felt I simply couldn’t answer. That night I would write all my thoughts and feelings on whatever subject about which we had spoken. Sometimes I would ask Sam to read whatever I had written.
Now, thankfully, I am much more able and comfortable to speak about certain things, but I still find that writing my thoughts provides much more clarity.
I journal as a discipline.
A few years ago (2011? 2012? I can’t remember) I had the goal of writing in my journal every single day. Some days I wrote only one sentence. Some days I wrote three pages. But I wrote every day, and it helped me form a habit.
Journaling is not beneficial to me every day that I do it, but overall it has been a helpful practice, sometimes the help just being the habit itself.
The reason this habit that I’ve had for nearly 12 years made it to my list of 20 goals for 2020 is that after Mae was born in 2018, I have not consistently journaled. My goal for this year is to journal all 366 days!
I will continue to journal for these reasons. I will continue to record what is happening in my life, from truths God is teaching me in His Word, to prayers and requests, to sweet memories of my family I never want to forget.
Do you keep a journal? How has it helped you?