Journaling to Remember
We humans are a forgetful people. Our God is faithful and true to His word, and oftentimes we say we believe this, but as the hymn “Come Thou Fount” states, we are “prone to wander.” A life of happenstance is much easier to us than one of intentionality and purpose. And yet our loving Father calls us to something so much higher—and not just something, but Someone. He calls us to Himself.
God can use the discipline of journaling to call us to Him and to an obedient and purposeful life. But how do we start? And why is it important? Why should we devote time to putting our thoughts, prayers, questions, and longings on paper?
What Is journaling?
Journaling is the act of remembering and preserving. When we journal, we write down the good, the bad, the ugly. You may think that journaling is a waste of time. Why write down all of your thoughts and feelings when they are all swirling around in your head anyways? But the practice of journaling can be a form of self-care and a spiritual discipline that allows you to share the deepest parts of who you are with your Heavenly Father who loves you and cares for you.
Why Should We Journal?
May I tell you something? Sometimes, the state of my heart is a wreck. In my shame, I want nothing more than to hide. I cannot believe that God would love me even at my lowest. I wonder when I write, “What would other people think about me if they found this journal after my death?!” But we can come to God with our whole selves. We do not have to hide from Him (or from anyone else, for that matter).
The enemy would love for us to keep the ugly parts of ourselves hidden. It’s one of his tried and true tactics to keep us from the loving embrace of our Father. All the way back in the Garden, we see how Adam and Eve hid and ran from God in the midst of their shame (Genesis 3:8). But God doesn’t want us to hide. He sees and knows all of us, even the parts that we are so afraid to bring into the light.
When we journal, we allow ourselves the space and freedom to process something to God, our loving and gracious Father. There is nothing that is too hard for Him to hear, because He knows it all. We can choose honesty with ourselves and with Him, and be guided by the Spirit who dwells in His children (Romans 8:14).
Recalling God's Faithfulness
In 1 Samuel 7, the Israelites are in the midst of a great battle against the Philistines. Samuel urges the people to pray and then makes a sacrifice to God. God answers his prayer, and the Philistines experience mass confusion, allowing the Israelites to see an unexpected victory. 1 Samuel 7:12 shows us Samuel’s response to this divine victory: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” The meaning of the word “ebenezer” is “a stone of help.” When we journal, we are creating an ebenezer that can be a source of help for us when we forget the goodness and faithfulness of God. I cannot tell you the number of times I have looked back at journals and thought, Wow, look at what God has done. Look at how He answered that prayer. Look at how He made a way here.
Our journaling is not only for our benefit, but can also be a way for us to love and encourage others as well. My husband and I went through a season of infertility before conceiving our son. Many sweet friends of mine committed to pray and fast with us. When we began telling people about our miracle boy, a dear friend of mine handed me a notecard of encouragement that included a page that had been ripped out of her journal. She had prayed for me almost exactly one year before, pleading with God to open my womb and give me a child. What a friend, and what a mighty God!
How do We Journal?
Journaling may seem overwhelming to you. You may be like me and think that there is a “right” way to do everything. But the most important (and simplest) step we can take is just to start. You don’t have to have the “right” pens or the “perfect” notebook.
Are you struggling with contentment? Make a list of ten things you are grateful in the morning or at night before you go to bed—or both! Do you want to get more out of your time in the Word? Start taking notes as you read. Do you want to know God more and walk with Him as you would a friend? Tell Him everything in your heart and trust Him to carry you and show you His ways.
Journaling can not only bring us closer to the heart of God by helping us tangibly see Him, it can help us to intentionally intercede for others and find peace when we are weary and worried. Our God longs for us to meet with Him, and journaling is a way we can seek Him, no matter the season.
Your friend, Jessica
PS: We shared a recent blog post with 20 Journaling Prompts to help you begin. You can find that post here.
Jessica Mathisen lives in Athens, Georgia with her nontraditional family—a wonderful husband, a crazy dog, a miracle baby, and the sweetest teen foster daughter. She is a recovering perfectionist, a former teacher, and a lover of people. Her passion is to communicate God's love to others through writing and relationships. She is honored to be the Development Director at Athens Pregnancy Center, but her most favorite things are hanging with her family, eating chips and salsa, and reading good books.