The Journey of Journaling

Insight on personal journal writing and spiritual growth

By Tom Gilbert ©Copyright 2003

"Yesterday, I was gazing up at the starlit summer sky. It was just about time for bed and as I prepared for it I again marveled at the great expanse of the universe and how insignificant my life seems in the great scheme of it all. Yet, that is how the ego is, constantly seeking assurance or leaping to the other end of the spectrum and exaggerating my importance. Either way, it is self centeredness. I am still too much the taker, not enough the giver.

However, I cannot escape the sense of destiny as I stand in the darkness and lift my head to the Heavens. God exists and I can make a place for Him in my heart. This sense of destiny may simply mean accepting that simple truth. Maybe it is something more. My mind wants it to be so. Will I be a bit-player or am I to be inserted into more dramatic scenes?

The Sunday began in its usual fashion. I was up before the rest of the family, but not too early. As I opened my eyes and mentally mouthed ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad’, I rolled out of bed and to the bathroom. Morning devotionals are part of my ritual, so I read from a couple of books I keep in the bathroom for just such purpose. Afterwards a short prayer, on my knees, expressing gratitude for life and another day and praying that I be open to God’s instruction and guidance and be of service in some way. The posture is not crucial to sincere prayer, but it’s important to me. I need to take the time to get down on my knees and spend at least a few minutes out of self. It helps.

Life is made up of little moments. There is much of the ordinary in our days. The dramatic events are the exception, or so it has been for me. Each moment of every day can be significant. This is the test of willingness and the race of perseverance. It’s a long-distance run."

The above is a recent entry in my personal journal. The actual writing is part of gaining perspective and clarity for me. I’ve kept a journal for years. I’m not faithful to daily writing like I once was. Instead I do it when I sense the need or the inner prompting. It still is frequent enough to remain a habit and not a hindrance.


Consider the Implications

Journaling is truly a great tool. In our journey through life we need to spend time reflecting on our days and considering the implications of the events in our lives. I can still be very self-centered, even in my writing. Nevertheless, the more I journal the more I find the need to express the truth that has been revealed to me. I live not for myself. Life is a gift and discovering/revealing the insight through the written word is part of how I grow. There is such simple clarity in seeing the words, even as I type them.

There are many practical reasons for keeping a journal. As a spiritual tool it yields benefit upon benefit. At times I will read a previous entry. Usually I’ll pull up the entry as close to a year ago as I can and read it. How interesting to discover that some of the things that were so pressing at the time have melted away with nary a current concern. Sometimes, though, I’ll discover that a "big" deal was happening. Financial worries, problems with family members, a spiritual crisis or a major news event. Always lessons are learned. If I didn’t take the time to record these moments in life I ’d likely not fully benefit from the lessons.


Just Do It

One of the keys to successful journaling is to set aside some time to just do it. Make it an appointment with your computer or notebook. If you like to write long-hand consider investing in a nice blank book. You can find these easily enough in most any office store, or go online. There are a surprising number of sites to choose from.

As you go through your day think about what is happening. If you hear something valuable in a conversation or read something that moves you, make a mental or written note. It makes it easier to have something to write at the end of a tiring day.

You don’t have to write at day’s end either. Pick the time that works best for you. Morning is often a better time for writing while you are fresh and you can write about your plans for the day as well as recall prior events.

Don’t worry about the length of your entry. Even just one or two insightful sentences will bear fruit. Or you may write for a few pages. My typical entries are a couple of paragraphs. Over time you’ll find what works best for you.

Your journal can be the place to record emotions, cares, concerns, hopes, desires, dreams and prayers. You can keep more than one journal, too. Many people have found the benefit of specializing. You can keep journals for travel, work, family, ideas, prayer or any other reason you can think of. These records can be terrific resources for an eventual memoir or life story.

The important thing is to keep some sort of chronicle. Life truly is a journey and those we meet on our travels have a purpose for you and them. Write about it, read it later and consider even sharing some of it, all in the spirit of encouragement.


Find out more about Journaling here

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