When my parents were planning to move from our childhood home, my mom called and asked me to come help her sort through some of the old things I had stored there. We had a blast walking down memory lane and reliving my teenage years as we looked through photos and folded old t-shirts. Eventually, I came across a giant stack of my old journals. I fondly picked one up and began to read—and read and read.
The pages were filled with boys, prayers, and notes from Wednesday night sermons. Each new entry reminded me of how much the Lord has worked in my life and it brought so much joy to my heart. Until all of a sudden, it stopped. Right in the middle of the journal, I had stopped writing. There were plenty of empty pages left, but for some reason, they were all blank. As I picked up another journal, I found the same thing to be true. It was filled with prayers and quotes and sermon notes, almost until the middle of the journal, and then it went blank again.
I’ve always processed through writing, and journaling was natural to me as a teen. As I grew in my faith, journaling turned from simply writing about my days or my problems to writing out my prayers and processing the Scripture I was reading. Sure, there were still pages and pages of writing lamenting prom dates and friend drama, but through journaling, I was learning to take things to the Lord in prayer before going anywhere else. However, as evidenced by my half-empty journals, I had a problem. I simply couldn’t finish a journal.
Since then, I’ve learned the joy that comes from finally finishing a journal and I’m so thankful that I have. But as I’ve talked with friends and girls I mentor, I’ve learned that half-empty journals are more common than not, and I’d love to offer three tips for finishing a journal as well as why I think it can be so rewarding.
Starting a brand-new journal is one of my favorite things. It feels like a fresh start and I’m always so motivated in the beginning to be consistent. However, as time goes on, I inevitably find myself losing momentum. Maybe I missed a few days or weeks and getting back on track feels a lot harder than simply starting over again. So instead of picking up where I left off, I start a new journal instead and the cycle repeats.
Are you looking to the wrong places for motivation to journal?
And while there’s nothing wrong with not finishing a journal, the mentality behind constantly starting over became a red flag for me. I realized that when I failed to be consistent, I was turning to a new journal for motivation instead of turning to Jesus.
Ultimately, Jesus is the reason why I journal. It’s a tool for meeting with Him and digging into His Word. It allows me to look back on all He’s done and choose to trust Him for all that He will do. So while it’s true that cute new journals and pretty pens are encouraging and fun, we can’t allow those things to be our primary motivators.
Before college, I had never considered having a plan when I journaled. I usually just started writing whatever was on my mind and went from there. However, when one of my mentors shared with me that she answered the same couple of prompts each day in her journal, I began to do the same thing. I quickly realized that following the same format and answering some of the same questions each day made journaling even more enjoyable, productive, and consistent. Following a plan can be so helpful in finishing a journal because you have a direction each time you open it up and turn the page.
Don't let uncertainty keep you from finishing.
This is one of the many reasons why I love the Give Me Jesus Journal! Following the same format each day has helped me get more out of my time studying and remain committed and consistent in my journaling!
You can also find a list of 20 journaling prompts on the Well-Watered Blog if you’re looking for some new fuel for your journaling plan.
Over the years, I’ve learned that finishing a journal isn’t just about consistency, it’s about steadfastness. Inevitably you will miss a day or two (maybe more than that) but it doesn’t mean you have to give up. You can pick up where you left off, even if it means acknowledging why you lost momentum in the first place.
a steadfast pursuit of Christ will sustain you.
In order to be steadfast, you have to learn to walk in grace. Maybe you could only journal half a page today, or maybe you couldn’t manage any journaling at all. Instead of skipping tomorrow too, walk in grace and start again tomorrow. Don’t forget that the longer you go without journaling or spending time in God’s Word, the more of a habit it becomes. When you see yourself drifting away from your journal and time in God’s Word, ask the Lord to make you hungry for Scripture and long to spend time in His presence.
Finishing a journal is fun and rewarding, but making it to the last page of your journal isn’t what really matters. What matters is that you made Jesus your motivation, you practiced steadfastness, and you opened His Word alongside every page you turned in your journal.