Creating an Album of the Soul

The key to journaling is being honest with God.

Hi. My name is Sharon. I am a pen addict.

It’s true. I love pens.

Levenger catalogs and their “tools for the serious reader” have been arriving in my mailbox for well over a decade.

But then, may I also recommend the Paper Mate InkJoy. Very smoooooth! Ah, but I digress from our purpose today…

My addiction to pens dovetails nicely with my yearning to journal. Starting with my elementary-school daily diary (complete with the secure plastic lock and key, thank you very much) to my acid-free spiral journals of late, I’ve regularly processed life through the ink of a favorite pen. Journaling has always been a part of my faith journey.

Why Journal?

I believe journaling encourages emotional and spiritual health. It’s not the daily lists of activity but the processing of the day that makes our life one of reflection and wisdom.

Socrates even observed that “the life which is unexamined is not worth living.

In an online course that I am taking through Willow Creek’s LIFT Project, an entire week was dedicated to the importance of journaling. Articles, videos and online discussions for The Leader’s Soul highlighted the value and discipline of this personal writing.

The LIFT instructor, Mindy Caliguire, shared that journaling is merely “being honest with God about what’s going on in your life.” She adds “the journal is a safe place in which to pose your own great questions, then seek answers.”

Mindy suggests writing about four areas:
1) Record your life
2) Express your true self
3) Solve problems
4) Grow spiritually

Sometimes getting this deep requires prompting questions. Here are a few prompts from Mindy’s booklet “Write for Your Soul

  • Why do I keep doing this?
  • What do I need?
  • What’s my next step?
  • Why do I feel so numb? out of control? hurt? angry? selfish?
  • How do my actions reveal what I truly believe?
  • Why am I getting so involved in this?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What’s the worst that can happen?

The resulting journal serves as a spiritual record. It witnesses to God’s hand in your life along with your own growth amidst struggles and joys.

As a spiritual discipline, journaling encourages believers to pause amidst the complexities of life. When putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), we necessarily ponder people around us, God’s presence, circumstances, and consequences.

Like snapshots of the formative events and people and places of life, 
journaling creates an album of the soul.

How to Journal

Step One. Choose your medium. I’ve already mentioned how the Pen is critical for me. Regarding the journal itself, I prefer paper without lines. Sometimes I like to write really small and sometimes quite HUGE …sometimes I even draw or mindmap. Some people prefer online journals using a word processor, blog, or other writing software.

Step Two. Write. Allow your thoughts, hopes, and frustrations to emerge in the written word. No one is grading your work. Write in (gasp) incomplete sentences. Let go of the four-sentence paragraph. Illegal abbreviations and dangling participles are allowed.

Step Three. Repeat. This is really an important step! Repeat regularly. You, however, decide that best interval for you. Know that guilt for not making daily journal entries is actually quite counterproductive and will only serve to force boring list entries. Instead, take time to pause regularly and reflect on life.

Start somewhere…even if it’s a question mark on the page!

Start journaling…even with a question mark!

Your Turn

If you do not journal, consider starting one. Pull out an old notebook, get paper out of the printer, or start a blog (your blog can be public or private).

If you journal but have fallen out of the habit, pick up your journal today! Laugh at the date of the last entry… then just begin again!

If you journal regularly, please share how you keep your journaling fresh and consistent.

Posted by Sharon R. Hoover

Opening Photo Credit: athena. via photopin cc
Empty Journal Photo Credit: Eleaf via photopin cc

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About Sharon R Hoover

Serving the church for over twenty years in discipleship and mission ministries, I've walked alongside many people travelling and exploring the journey of faith. Add in my own crazy path and I hope my writing will offer glimpses of life worth sharing.
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2 Responses to Creating an Album of the Soul

  1. Chad Miller says:

    I’ve been considering journaling for a while now. There are several motivators for doing so, many of which you have pointed out.
    My children have witnessed my blogging. By design I’ve gathered them in the office so they could experience and share in my love of writing.
    One day, however, I’d love for them to read my hand written words as opposed to a perfectly formatted screen view. I believe there’s a lot of honesty and authenticity in a handwritten account of feelings and experiences.
    Thanks for the encouragement, Sharon.

    • You point out a priceless reason for journaling, Chad! So very true. Our handwritten records don’t have the “benefit” of spell-check, online thesaurus, and edits. When I when journal, my praises and my rants are definitely more raw than when publishing to a blog! And, the beauty of a handwritten record is indeed invaluable. Thanks for dropping by and adding to the conversation, Chad!

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