Here’s a warning, you know how people talk about having a love-hate relationship with things? Like Marmite, work, exercise or [[something humorous], well that’s not the case for me with Journaling (apparently a new verb to the English language!).. No, Journaling has had a love-like relationship with me for many years.
I started when I was a kid, pretty much as soon as I had my first encounter with God at a Christian summer camp. I started writing down things, like the day’s events, and prayers, and any “prophecies” I’d received that day. My summer camps were cool like that. I try not to take my “charismatic” upbringing for granted – but that’s another story for another post – don’t hold your breath.
My youth leader said, a journal, didn’t have to be anything fancy or the like – just a place where I could record what God might be saying to me. Click, I was hooked. Add to that my nerdish obsession with notebooks and… Worrlah!
Over the years my approach to Journaling has changed, (at one point, I had 3 different note books for 3 different purposes!) but for the last few years I’ve had a model which seems to have stuck.
But why? Why Journal? If Simon Sinek says ‘Start with Why’ , then why do I journal?
I don’t think I could put together a comprehensive list of my reasons. Firstly, because that’d require a lot more thinking and remembering than I’m prepared to give to a mid-week post. And secondly, it’d be quite a long list! And we all know, how important punchyness as a virtue to this site.
So instead, I want to mention the reason that it’s been on my mind lately. The one that caused a bit of a revival in my love-to-like-to-love relationship with Journaling.
Reason why I journal: It slows me down.
I am a fast pace kinda guy, at least that’s what I tell myself. I like getting through to the end of activities. More of a cross the finish line, than appreciate the flowers along the way. Results > process, in my mind. (Not that the process is bad, or useless, it’s not.) But I like moving onto the next thing. I like ticking boxes. Point made?
Well, fortunately I serve a God who has been able to use this trait of mine to build up His church, encourage His people and as a tool in discipling others. Huzzah! (as a side note, there’s a “wise-sounding” way of thinking that says “results don’t matter, all the matters is the process”. That’s nonsense too, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t talk about judging by fruit!) Nevertheless, there are still areas where this trait negatively works itself out. And one of which is in my personal devotional life, my quiet times, my walk with God in the mornings.
If I go about my quiet times without Journaling, I often simply focus on getting through my readings, and presenting my prayers. But Journaling slows me down. I won’t belabour the importance of slowing down. (I’m running out of time – ironically!)
But it is important to enjoy God’s presence, and savour it. Not just to tick it off a morning activity. This is not how I approach marriage or any meaningful friendship. Why would I subject the greatest relationship, the most character forming communion, the spiritually maturing, fruit producing, life exploding moment of my day to that!
When I simply gaze upon Jesus – I trust that I am being transformed. Journaling helps me to do this. It helps me to slow down.
I would encourage you to try it for a week, see how it affects your walk with God.