I’ll admit that there was a time when I hated writing (despite the fact that it has become my passion). There was nothing more repulsive to me than writing for pleasure – it seemed crude, archaic, stale, and pointless.
Thus, as I received encouragement to journal from a number of spiritual mentors, I naturally declined the possibility of acting upon such a preposterous suggestion. In my eyes, there would be not benefit to writing my thoughts down on paper; after all, no one would read my spiritual-pseudo-diary in 50 years, and consider it a masterpiece.
However, the day came when I was forced to journal as an assignment for a High School bible class – and, since I suffer from severe perfectionism, I refused to blow off the assignment. I decided to suck it up, and give journaling a shot (no matter how painful it might become). Ironically, I quickly learned that written reflection was beginning sharpen my mind, and I even started to love the routine of journaling my thoughts and prayers!
As a matter of fact, I use this blog as a means of journaling my own thoughts; many of the articles published on this website are a result of time spent in Scripture and prayerful reflection. I would even say that All Nicked Up has boosted my routine of journaling because of the accountability that accompanies its maintenance (as it ensures that I write at least 3 times a week).
Perhaps you have been urged to begin a habit of journaling, but don’t think it to be effective. Maybe you have been inspired to write daily reflections on God’s work and word in your life, but do not know where to begin. Allow me to provide you with a few helpful tips:
1. Don’t Overcomplicate Journaling
You have to realize that, when you begin journaling, your writings will look nothing like that of Lewis, Spurgeon, Chambers, Tozer, and Chesterton. That’s okay! Don’t allow yourself to be ashamed of the simplicity of your reflections; depth and wisdom come as a result of the long journey that is spiritual maturation. I would often find myself discouraged by the lack of understanding in my initial years of journaling; however, I was encouraged by others to cherish my grasp of “simple truths” and observe as God began to cultivate deeper understanding within me. Sure enough, my journal entries started getting deeper as the months passed – for God was building on the foundation of “simple truth” that he planted within my mind. I am still no Lewis, Spurgeon, Chambers, Tozer, or Chesterton (and may never be so), but I see that God has allowed me to make tremendous progress.
2. Write at Your Best
This is a simple principle that people often ignore! Journal when you are at your best. If you aren’t a morning person, don’t wake up at sunrise to read scripture and respond in writing; if you hit-the-hay pretty early, don’t journal at 10 o’clock as you fall asleep on the paper. Are you too busy to journal every single day? Then don’t journal every single day – just do so during the 3 days each week that have more spare time! Do you see my point? If you try journaling during the times that you are at your worst (whether that be sleep-deprived, busy, or hungry), you will naturally be conditioned to despise the practice of written reflection. Don’t set yourself up for failure!
3. Be Honest
Don’t sugarcoat you writings by pretending to understand all Biblical passages or praising God because of every single excerpt (unless, of course, that is the case). Be honest in your journal entries – allow them to be an authentic expression of your thoughts and emotions. If you are confused, say so. If you don’t see how or why God did something, then write about it. If something just doesn’t seem right, jot it down and do more research! You will never grow if you cannot be genuine.
4. Don’t Write A Novel
It’s okay if your journal entry is only one paragraph. Believe me, you will not have a 5-page epiphany every single day (that just isn’t the way it works). Some days will inspire a short note, others will lead to a lengthy reflection – such is the ebb and flow of life.
5. Have Fun With It
You don’t want a boring journaling experience; so make it as exciting as possible! Reflect in a manner that inspires you and evokes more passion. I know many people that journal in completely different manners than myself. Some write out prayers word for word, while others create meaningful fiction and parables. Others utilize charts and templates, as still others turn to poetry and lyrical expression. Each approach is valid and beneficial! Find the journaling style that comes naturally to you, and is immensely enjoyable on a regular basis. You may even find that changing approaches on a regular basis is best for your reflection; again, that is perfectly fine. Just have fun with it!
Trust me, your faith will greatly benefit from regular, intentional reflection. It may not be easy to start (or continue), but it is always worth it. Best of luck with you endeavors in journaling!
Any tips or tricks that you would include in this list? Add your thoughts on journaling by commenting in the section below (just click on Comments, and start typing in the text box)!
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