“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”
― Christina Baldwin
One of the things encouraged in the My One Word book is to engage in daily journaling. That, too, is a good writing discipline for each of us. We need the practice of writing daily. It is a private writing exercise and one about which I am sorely conflicted.
I have burned and/or deleted more journals than I can remember. I write for a while, re-read and decide it is all drivel and boom – it’s gone. And any chance for insight and growth is gone with it. So far, my FOCUS journal is doing okay. It has been a record of the word selection process, the examination of the word meanings and synonyms and the Bible verses I’ve found that have spoken to my heart.
Hopefully this journal will also include the times when focus escapes me and how God’s word clears a path back. Frankly, I can’t even imagine where God will take me with this word this year. I’m beginning with my focus being steadfastly on Him. More than writing, this is going to take steadfast prayer.
In order to focus on Him, I’ll need to pray TO Him. I’ll need to lean on, rely on and cling to Him only. I need focus in so many areas of my life.
Just last night I was talking to a friend about journaling and she said that the problem she has with it is writing down personal and very private thoughts. “What if somebody reads them after I have died?” Or they just put their nosey nose into them without permission. I understand what she means.
My BFF, Mary, has made a promise to me. Actually I coerced it out of her. Her ONE JOB – One. Job. If I should drop dead or suddenly die, she is to go to my house, turn on my computer, find my journal and without reading even a single word, she is to delete it. It is my responsibility to have it all in one spot. Her responsibility is to delete it.
Here’s the thing: it is unlikely that ANYONE cares about my journal or my thoughts or my struggles. They just don’t care. I’m good with that. But I’m freer to write when I know Mary will show up and delete the journal if I can’t.
In college, my Composition 1 professor, Barbara Smith, said “Your written words are the only words you can actually change.” That has stuck with me for years. I can edit them, delete them, share them or keep them private. Once words are spoken, you can’t unspeak them. The best we can do is explain or expand or apologize or ignore them.
I have come across many forgotten pages of journal entries that I’m trying to put in my computer copy in chronological order. (Yet another task not completed. I keep finding more things on envelopes, backs of grocery store receipts and even in other journal attemps… good grief, don’t I ever carry any paper?) They have been tucked away in a book I was carrying at the time, in an old folder of other writing or in a box of stuff from mom’s cedar chest. I have notes from when my mom was in the hospital in ICU. A running account of her erratic blood pressure and rapid respiration. I have some writing about a time my brother, Larry, called. In the throes of hallucinations he was convinced my son was sitting there talking to him. He wasn’t. I chronicled the conversation. It makes me very sad, still. Obviously, writing this much about these two events triggers strong emotions in me. My mom and Larry have gone home to be with the Lord. It is good to see how I responded to them and to the situation at the time. It is good to acknowledge the healing that has taken place as well.
It is a huge gift to be able to look back at a season of my own life and gain some wisdom. When and how prayers were answered. When the answer was no, how did I respond? What was important to me then? How is that reflected in what I wrote about?
It is also my hope that you will begin journaling just to chart your own way. Just an inexpensive spiral bound notebook and a pen. It is an opportunity to practice writing and document your own path.
- My One Word
- Winter’s bite