I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was a sophomore at LSU and it was a beautiful spring day. After class, I left my sorority house and took a walk around the lake that was right along sorority row. But I didn’t get far; I ended up sitting by a tree.
It was there that I placed my faith in Christ.
After that big moment, I walked back to my sorority house and pulled out a yellow steno notepad. On it, I described what had just happened in a letter to God. For me, that moment instilled a life-long habit.
This year, I celebrated my 19th “Jesus Birthday” on March 15 – the day when I surrendered my life to Christ and placed my faith in Him to rescue me from my sins.
One of my traditions each year is to write in a special journal that I only write in on that day. By having a book of “snapshots,” it allows me to look back over my walk with the Lord in a unique way.
It helps me see the ways that God’s Spirit in me is producing growth over time.
Journaling has become one of the ways that I best connect with God. Journaling helps me to persevere in the journey I’m on with Christ and it also helps me to open up to God. It helps me to be more honest with God and with myself.
Here are a few benefits to journaling:
- It helps me pay attention to God.
Journaling helps me both to hear from and respond to God. It forces me to slow down and helps me to process what is going on inside my little analytical mind.
I enjoy journaling with different color ink pens. Sometimes I journal in one color and then write what I sense God leading me to do or saying to me in a different color ink. That forces me to LISTEN!
I also write in red ink when I’m mad or frustrated with God – that allows me to quickly look back through my journal and see either how ridiculous I was being or how God showed Himself to me in the midst of my frustrations and bringing them to Him.
- Journaling helps put feelings to words, or words to feelings.
Maybe you know you are feeling something but you don’t know why. As you begin to write to God, you often get to the why behind those feelings. Or maybe you are thinking something but if someone asked you how that makes you feel, you wouldn’t know how to answer.
I’ve found that journaling helps my feelings to surface as I get my words out on the page. One personal example of this was after hosting an engagement party for my best friend my thoughts were all over the place. As I began to journal and write those out to God that night after the party, I realized that what I was feeling was sadness over the loss of my friend moving to another state and staff team.
Knowing that is what I was feeling better allowed me to ask God to meet me in that sadness. Journaling can also help me to gain perspective and hope or combat the enemy.
- Journaling records my growth in becoming more like Christ.
Journaling can also be a written record of the things I’m learning from God’s Word. When I look back over my journal and see the prayers I’ve prayed and compare them to my current reality, I often thank God for the growth that He has produced in me!
Seeing that keeps me wanting to bring things to God and ask Him to change me because I see the major ways He has done that in my past.
Here are a few tips when journaling:
- Find a journal that you like! My personal favorites are journals with NO lines so that I’m free to write big or draw.
- Just be yourself. When you journal, there is no reason to feel fear, or performance anxiety – you can be completely honest in your thoughts, questions and emotions. You don’t need to hold back from God – He already knows what’s in your heart and your head, and loves you passionately. He doesn’t care about pretty penmanship or grammar.
- Feel free to draw. Drawing can help you to see emotions that are harder for you to get in touch with or communicate with words. It’s the process of journaling that is important. You may start in one direction and He shifts you to something else. Let God stir your heart as you pour it out to Him.
If you haven’t tried journaling, give it a try today. Maybe it will help your heart connect more deeply with the God who loves you far more than you realize. I certainly didn’t realize that spring day when I wrote my thoughts to God that writing to Him would be one of the ways my heart best connects with my Savior.