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What happened in the “olden days” before we had cell phones? How could we have lived without the immediate exchange of phone numbers with our trusty iPhone address books? You might have had to rely on your short term memory until you could find a pen and paper to jot the number down. Your conversation and thought process might have gone something like this:
“My number is 555-1234”
“Okay got it, thanks!”
*searches frantically for a pen and paper*
*found scratch paper, “Where is a pen?!”*
*found pen, write down number, checks heart rate*
That feeling might be familiar to some of us; keeping something in our short term memory and feeling the pressure to not let it slip away. There’s a magical moment when the pen hits the paper and we are relieved of the intrusiveness of the hypothetical “555-1234” replaying over and over again in our head. What would happen when you needed to call the number once you had written it down? Would you remember the entire number off the top of your head? Probably not. Maybe a general idea of the numbers, but probably not the entire thing and all of its stress-inducing repetition. I personally would go back to where I had written it down and recall the number from there. I think that is the same light we can reframe the way we see journaling.
Journaling is therapeutic
As a clinician in the counseling field, I am an advocate for journaling. In the same fashion as my analogy above, writing our thoughts and feelings down has the power to free up some of the stress and intrusiveness of the strong thoughts and feelings that are clogging up our short-term memory. Humans are such emotionally-driven beings, hence why our strongest memories are the most emotional ones (whether the emotions be positive or negative). Writing things down may help us to get in a more logical state of mind in order to effectively process through our feelings.
Journaling provides spiritual growth
As a Christian woman, journaling is something that allows for past reflection, future insight, and present surrender. As we journal, we are able to reflect as we write on the rawness of our emotions, thoughts, and circumstances. When our words have a place to be stored, we are able to provide insight to ourselves in the future when we look back on past entries. Journaling provides us with tangible evidence of the growth that God has facilitated in our lives through the previous season. Finally, journaling can provide a safe place to surrender our fears and feelings to God. We can find peace in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (NIV). We may not always be able to control our situation, but when we are overwhelmed, Jesus promises peace and rest in Him.
Is journaling for you?
If you find difficulty in expressing yourself verbally, the first step might be to begin journaling in order to free your thoughts and process them. Effective communication with others first begins by being honest and vulnerable with ourselves. Vulnerability is an uncomfortable concept for most, but as we allow ourselves access to our true fears, desires, and thoughts through journaling, we can in turn form deeper connections with others. I would challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and begin to see what happens when you try to journal. Look specifically for the fruits of your journaling and the ways in which you are being changed.
How do I begin journaling?
A common misconception is that journaling must be on lined paper, sitting at a desk, in rigid, five paragraph format. That is absolutely not the case, and quite honestly would be completely ineffective for most journaling individuals. Some may need prompting, others may want to draw, and some may simply write for pages and pages. The point is, journaling is not about structure, it is about freedom. Here are some options for various journals that I have personally used in graduate school, with clients, and in my personal life.
The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself
Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration
His Grace is Sufficient Hardcover Wirebound Journal
Regardless of what method of journaling best suites you, I pray that journaling is something that you find beneficial as you begin to step out of your comfort zone and implement it into your life.
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What a great post! I found myself nodding all the way through…
I’m a huge advocate for journaling! It’s helped my process life, and I’ve also used it to pray. My husband and grown children know that when I die, those journal are to be burned! 🙂 There are many instances where I’ve complained and kvetched about life stuff in ways that I’d never talk out loud! I’ve been writing down my fears/thoughts/ideas/prayers since I was young.
As we packed up to travel fulltime and move stuff into storage, I spent time going through my journals – visiting that person I was when my kids were small, etc. One fun thing I found were letters and journal entries from before we were married about our (my husband and my) desire to travel with an RV. It only took 30 years… 🙂
Yes. Journalling is so helpful.February 17, 2017 at 6:40 am
Thank you so much for reading and sharing, Lori! Just like you said, journaling can be such a private, intimate thing that allows us to truly process things happening in our lives. I agree that its such a treat to go back and read old entries, it truly transports you back.March 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm
I couldn’t agree more with everything stated above. It’s very therapeutic but I especially agree with the spiritual growth. Honestly, when I’m not journaling I feel stuck, like I’ve stopped growing.February 17, 2017 at 7:08 am
Speaking from recent experience, I hadn’t been writing in my journal over the course of a few months due events and lack of time and desire to write. Sure enough though as soon as I start writing again I start coming back to life! I love journaling!
Wow what an awesome realization you had that journaling is a big source of growth for you! Blessings on your “journaling journey” 🙂 Thanks for reading!March 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm
Nice, nice job Berklee! I’ve never thought of the aspect of psychological relief when I get something down on paper. I’m not very artsy so most of the time I journal in my Bible or in my journal to record details from a passage or a story that happened in my day that somehow relates. I am hoping it will leave a legacy of faith for my daughter one day. Also, I have started to dedicate the last couple pages in my journal to things that I feel the Lord has specifically emphasized to me in His Word. I’m so quick to forget these things and I have an easy reference. Thanks for an incredible post!February 17, 2017 at 10:34 am
I love that you are leaving a legacy of faith for your daughter, that’s amazing! I pray that God continues to develop your “journaling skills” so that what He wants written may be. Thanks for reading, Karin!March 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm
Loved this!! I’m just getting into journaling and I feel kind of stuck so I loved the post and it he links you shared!February 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm
Diane, thanks so much for reading! When we think of journaling as only writing, it can be so limiting. God designed each of us so uniquely, so journaling is something that looks different for everyone. And the resources that I personally use that I linked, show all the differences!March 2, 2017 at 11:59 am
I try to journal every night, a couple sentences about my day and then I write down one thing I am grateful for, top 3 moments of the day as well as something that made me feel calm. It’s been incredibly therapeutic, a beautiful way to end the day, as well as helpful to continue to have a mindful mindset.April 8, 2017 at 9:49 am
I l love journals and have a few sitting around here and there. But this article really called to me. I am a teacher, on spring break, otherwise I might not have allowed myself the time to read, A Call to Journal. I am so grateful that I found your blog on Instagram! Even though I mentioned those journals sitting around, I just ordered one you recommended, the Start Where You Are journal. It is not only beautiful, but the prompts and graphic are very meaningful to me. I can’t wait to get it and start writing my story! Thank you for this inspiring post.April 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm
I absolutely agree, I have aJanuary 12, 2019 at 4:41 am
Journal at home but I also have an app in The fast paced world, that allows me to write my thoughts
At the time and keep up with them. Or questions I may have throughout the day. I find it awesome to have at your
Fingers tips for the small stuff and on the go. But my journals at home are for the deep, let it all out- cry a little bit- feel good writing and drawing takes place. It’s where I talk to God the most I think, where we have long conversations about life. I think once I write the down it’s like he’s saying I gotten now, flip the page. ♥️??God bless you !