The Joy of Journaling

Journaling Photo

Journaling is a great way to slow down, recalibrate, and insert a refreshing “pause” in your hectic life. And to journal, you don’t have to be a writer. And you don’t have to write every day. A journal is not a daily diary. Its flexible. A journal is not intended to catalog your life, it’s designed to capture your thoughts when you decide to record them. So, write about what you’re thinking about. You make the rules. Someday you may want to know what you were thinking about during this unprecedented time in our history with this unbridled virus.
How You Benefit When You Write
When I survey the completed journals on my bookshelf, I discover that I’ve written on a vast array of topics:  How I made the decision to leave corporate America and start my own business, my son’s multiple surgeries, my wife’s severe car accident, thoughts on worry, when my sons learned to ride a two-wheeler, turning forty, handling job pressure, facing disappointments, overcoming rejection from literary agents, 100 things I love most in this world, and God’s faithfulness throughout my life.
Why did I write about these things? Simply because these were the things I was experiencing and thinking about. My journal is a catharsis. A place to pause and review my life in slow motion. My journal lets me observe my life again with the clarity of a snapshot, not the blur of live action. Jessamyn West said it best: “People who keep journals have life twice.”
Writing in a journal temporarily slows the pace of life, sharpens our focus, and relaxes us. It’s like slowly drinking a hot cup of coffee. For a moment, our engine is idle as we savor its rich aroma.
How the Reader Benefits
In most cases, the reader of your journal is only you—unless you elect to share it with others. You benefit from rereading your thoughts and capturing deep insights, observations and interpretations of your life laid bare on the parchment. As for me, I hope to share my journals with my kids because I find comfort in the notion of them unearthing a nugget of truth that will bring them encouragement or wisdom when they encounter a similar crossroad. I hope, in some cases, my journal will answer the question, “I wonder what Dad would do?”
How to Outlive Your Life
My mother died of cancer at age 45, leaving behind six children ranging in age from four to fourteen. I was eleven. I used to imagine how I would feel if, by some miracle, my older brother, Chris, or sister, Kathii, found a lost journal written by my mother in a dusty old chest in the attic of our family home. What treasures would I find between the covers? Even her casual everyday entries would, in some way, speak to me. Her handwriting alone may, if only for a moment, bring her back to life again.
Regardless of the thoughts scrawled across those now sacred pages, I may catch a glimpse of her personality hidden in her word choices, her unique phases, or the way she expressed herself. And maybe, just maybe, there would be an entry about me. And what if the journal’s now musty pages carried an ever so faint scent of her perfume? And, as long as I’m dreaming, perhaps captured on those pages I would hear in the distance, the unmistakable sound of her laughter again.

Journaling. You never know when the power of your words, scrawled across a once blank page will allow you, in some small way, to outlive your life.


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