Why I Journal

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I’ve been writing on a regular basis since I was in elementary school, when I got my first Alice in Wonderland diary from the Disney Store. It came with its own lock and key, which enabled me to keep it safe from two meddling little girls that will go unnamed.  The first journal I filled completely was actually just a navy blue Mead notebook that I started when I was 10. The first time I wrote in it I was spending the night at my grandparents’ house in Pflugerville. I had a bit of a fascination with British English at the time, and remember trying to write in my most proper voice, using the most formal words I knew to describe our pizza dinner from a few hours prior and the fact that I had the Disney channel on in the background. You know, typical British stuff.

Anyway, my journaling continued all through middle school and high school. At some point, I stopped using Mead notebooks and started using proper journals, oftentimes gifted to me by my family at Christmas because they knew it would be something I would use. I journaled about my faith and mission trips and boys, of course. The good ones and the stupid ones, who, looking back, weren’t worth all the pages I dedicated to them.

College was the first time I took a break, though unintentional, from journaling and it was also, ironically, the first time someone told me journaling would help me process my feelings. My psychologist at the Biola Counseling Center told me that, when I began seeing her for depression and anxiety. Before, journaling had always been something I got to do, something that helped me. Maybe, subconsciously, I stopped journaling for periods of time in college because I didn’t want to associate journaling with a hard and confusing time.

Eventually I started again and, after college, a journal accompanied me to Ireland (I met a boy!) and then to Mexico (I think I’m going to marry that boy!) and it was the thing that I had in my hands the most during the weeks after Sophia was born. It helped me process what happened after she was born while simultaneously providing me a place to record what she was doing in those first early, precious weeks. Needless to say, my journals have been with me through everything. A few years ago, I read one too many books on minimalism and got rid of almost everything I had ever owned. Except for pictures and, of course, my journals. Today, in our small house, my prettiest journals are displayed on the bookshelf in our living room and all of the other ones are on my nightstand.

And though the practice of journaling has been helpful in and of itself, it might be the process of re-reading my journals that has been most beneficial. My journals are full or prayers, some answered and others unanswered, petitions, and expressions of where I hoped my life would go before it had really even gotten started. I haven’t have to look very far to see how God has walked before me and beside me and behind me, year after year after year. Even when I can’t see Him, I know that because He has been faithful, He is faithful and He will always be faithful. 

Although it may not have begun this way, journaling has become my way of thanking God for being present in my life, a song from the deepest parts of my heart. Like St. Augustine said in Confessions, “I tell my story for love of your love.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. lauraellalee says:

    It was so enjoyable to read this, Emily. Our first house we stayed in here just got illegally demolished, with all our things spoiled outside in the Indian monsoon, and I lost all my journals. That and my baby pictures are the only things I really care about that can’t be replaced 😭 I will miss what you wrote about being able to read them (which I did frequently) and see God’s incredible faithfulness to me. But it’s also weird because I literally have almost no memory of the vast majority of my life, just vague remembrances of certain seasons and certain events that were particularly traumatizing. Looking back now and realizing that I was depressed even from young adolescence, I count this lack of remembrance as God’s grace to me – a sort of “you do t need to remember, Laura.” Now I don’t even have the ability to go back and see what I wrote and feel bad for myself 😉

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