When most people think of a journal their mind goes to little girls with books kept under lock and key. While this is one view of a journal, it’s not the most accurate view.
Journaling is not a new discipline. It’s been around for thousands of years. Some of the greatest leaders and minds of this world have kept a journal. King David took the time to pen hundreds of Psalms in which he recorded his encounters with God. As Christians we get the benefit of reading his journal and being witnesses to his personal relationship with God.
I appreciate the book of Psalms because it’s a real account of a man’s feelings and relationship with God. David is very expressive towards God and he lays it all out there for everyone to read.
He doesn’t mind asking God the hard questions or expressing his heartfelt emotions. I like the fact that David was a “man’s man” and had a very real relationship with God. (Any man who kills a giant with a slingshot and a borrowed sword is a man’s man!)
David’s relationship with God has inspired me in my own spiritual journey. I’ve been journaling off and on since my college days. It has served me well the past few years. I’ve been able to look back and see my own life progression. I feel like I’ve taken some major strides forward, while in other situations, I feel like I’ve been treading water. In either case, I can review my progress.
I’ve come to the conclusion there are six benefits for the Christian who journals:
It helps you reflect on where you’ve been.
It’s been said that “hindsight has 20/20 vision”. I would disagree with this statement. Hindsight doesn’t have perfect vision, it has perspective. When you take the time to journal an experience you are able to see things from a distance, rather than up close and being caught up in the moment.
It helps you reflect on where you’re headed.
As I’ve taken the time to write down my experiences I can see the fingerprints of God in my life. I can see where he’s been leading me to new areas of ministry, such as in writing and training leaders. If I had not taken the time to write these down it would have been much harder to see this progression in my life.
It helps you clarify your thoughts and feelings.
There’s something about getting the information from your head, to your heart to the end of your pen (or keyboard). I’ve been able to identify the roots of many of my emotions and to work through things quicker. I tend to move on quicker from situations where I’ve been hurt or frustrated. It’s hard to find healing in your life when your emotions are still fresh and raw.
It helps you remember where God has spoken to you in the past.
I easily forget things that people have told me. It’s hard to remember what God has spoken to you during the heat of the battle. Journaling helps you to go back and encourage yourself when times are difficult. I often remind myself that my circumstances aren’t based on my emotions or how I feel, but on what God declares in his Word.
It helps you remember where God has come through in your life.
I try to record every significant life moment in my journal. Every time God has come through in my life with something I have written it down. During times of difficulty I have read these journals and encouraged myself to keep going.
It helps you to see where you’ve grown.
Things you thought were a big deal a few years ago are minor things compared to today’s issues. You’ve seen parents measure their child’s growth by marking their height on the door post. Journaling is a great way to measure your growth.
Many of my blog posts have come as a result of one of my journals. Journaling has helped me to process many situations and I hope my readers have benefited from my discipline as well.