I was recently reminded of how important it is to keep a journal. Writing your thoughts, feelings or aspirations is more powerful than we think. The same way we can speak things to life by the confession of our mouth, the same way speaking and declaring through writing makes things happen. In this short blog, I want to invite you to test what I am about to share below and if you are already doing it, to encourage you to keep up.
How far back can you trace what is happening in your life today?
Too many times I have been asked to tell the story of how I knew my husband was the one. This story, actually, starts 5 years before I met him. I was an undergraduate student and figured out wherever he was at the time, he would either be at university as well or at best be at the beginning of his career. So, I decided to pray for him in that context. In a way my prayers for him reflected my life too but basically every blessing I desired for myself I prayed for him too. I wanted him to be passionate for God, ambitious in life, lover of music, etc. I would write whatever came to mind of our life as a couple, even the little things like the names of my future children. Was I crazy? There are times I thought this was totally stupid. Except the things I wrote, the things I prayed for… God gave them to me and more!
‘If I have a son, I would name him Joshua or Caleb’, I wrote in my 2011 journal which is 3 years before I met my husband and 9 years before my first born. Funny enough when the time came, my husband gave me a list of names and it was a beautiful confirmation to find out that both names were on his wish list. All this to say that having that journal made certain decisions easier. In writing down my thoughts, I was not trying to create a blueprint of my life. I was not expecting things to work out exactly the way I wrote them but it set the tone to my prayer life and personal development in general.
Do you know how you got passed that tragic event?
As I look back, I realize that I should have started keeping a journal earlier in life and did it more consistently. For instance, I realize the most painful experiences of my life like failure or break-ups stopped hurting me from the moment they made it to my journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings has been therapeutical for me. Journaling helps with recovery. It gave me the means to close chapters and move on. This way, I was able to distance myself from whatever the situation was and reflect on what lessons I could take from it but really … most importantly, move on.
Writing down what hurt you, how it happened, who was involved, your responsibility in all that can be frightening. What if someone falls on that piece of paper? What if someone gets to know the conversations you have with yourself? Well, I found that writing is one exercise and archiving is a different one. You can get rid of your writing right after producing it or decide how long and where you will keep it. What I have found through my years of journaling is that writing down my thoughts and feelings forces me to take a forgiveness perspective to whatever it is I am processing in that moment. My choice of vocabulary is different and as I write, I am often reminded of my own short comings. In doing so, I begin to forgive, to take responsibility and finally to heal.
As a parent, I realize that I also have the responsibility to keep record for my children. Especially, in their early years when they are not capable of remembering their life’ story. This was pointed out to me by one of my good friends who produces books for and about her children and grandchildren. She made the point that children need to know the story of their lives to understand who they are, where they come from, their culture and more. To do it, she takes pictures of key moments and makes notes next to the pictures on her computer. These pictures are not just taken on big occasions like baby dedication or birthdays, they are about the littlest things of everyday life. In documenting how your kids are growing, you are contributing to the narrative of the life’ story.
Let me finish by saying what an opportunity it is to pray for them and speak into their lives. Of course, one must not pre-design their life, what they should study, who they should marry and what not. Still, this is an opportunity to communicate your values and culture. For instance, you could create them an email address and send them pictures as you try to find space in your phone. A few lines in an email saying what the occasion was or what you want them to remember through those photographs will contribute greatly to the story of their lives.
Overall, journaling taught me how to appreciate my different journeys as a wife, mother, woman of faith a professional and more.
If you are into journaling, let us know in the comments why you started, how you do it or what you learned from keeping a journal in general.