I was having lunch with a member of the church a while back and we got to talking about journaling. Tell me about it he said – so I began to talk philosophically about journaling, reciting quotes I’d memorized by Dallas Willard and Richard Foster for such a time as this. I was on a role until I was interrupted. Puzzled I look him in the eye – and he said I get it. Break it down for me how do I actually do it? He didn’t need convincing he needed practicalities. So the following is a bear bones tool on the practicalities of journaling. If you haven’t done it before why not give it a try this summer? For many it has become a powerful tool…
‘An unreflected life is not worth living.’ Socrates
An Introduction to Journaling
Throughout the centuries many Christians have used notebooks, diaries and journals as a way of reflecting on their walk with God. Many would say that such reflective writing or ‘journaling’ actually helps them to grow in their relationship with God. Unlike a diary, a journal doesn’t focus on events and incidents. It’s for reflection, mulling, questioning, pondering. It’s a flexible form – each journal will be totally unique to its writer. And you can write in it daily, weekly, monthly – whenever. It’s your call.
How to Get Started?
The best way is simply to plunge in, realizing that there is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. Some people write formal, connected sentences and paragraphs. Others jot down notes, draw ‘mind maps’, doodle pictures, use a variety of colored pens, cut out and paste in pictures, newspaper cuttings, prayers – and so on. Tidy or messy; formal or informal. It’s up to you to find the
approach that you enjoy. Don’t let too many people know – keeping a journal can be a very pleasurable activity.
What to Include
Here are some suggestions of what to cover in a journal:
• Meditation on the Scriptures – what is God saying to me and what am I going to do about it?
• Reflection on your moods, attitudes, feelings, health, stress, dreams, – what I’ve thought and felt, the highs and lows of the day, ways I’ve experienced change in myself.
• A record of spiritual experiences – ways I’ve been aware of God’s presence, what this might mean.
• Working through relationships – relationships that cause joy, why I struggle in particular relationships, coming to terms with a bereavement.
• Talking to God – hopes, longings, dreams, worries, fears.
• Pondering problems – decisions I’m concerned about, discerning God’s perspective on life and seeking his will for the future.
The following questions may be helpful:
• What is the next step in my relationship with God?
• What is the next step in the development of my character?
• What is the next step in my family life?
• What is the next step in my work?
With Every Blessing,
Rev David Larlee