Do you journal? If so, have you ever read through your pages of writing? Journaling offers a window into the past and that can instruct our future.
Last week I flipped through my 2014 journals. Like glancing over the stern of a boat at the rapids already passed, the meandering paragraphs and doodling entries reminded me of all that had transpired over the past year.
I am not an every-day kind of journaler but the highs and lows of year’s milestones were recorded. Like rocks protruding from the river, the milestones were visible for all to see. Only my journal, however, was privy to the underwater swirls around each milestone marker. I’m grateful for the times that I paused to record and to work through the churning waters.
Down through the years I have noticed a pattern in my journaling. When I struggle with something, I tend to write a lot. My initial entry typically makes little sense. It’s an attempt to catalog the crisis. Anger or frustration or animosity emerge in my inability to string words into a legible sentence.
After a while — in some cases it’s the end of that day’s entry, but in other cases, it is weeks or months or years later — my thoughts flow more gracefully. I’m able to find the words. Although the hurt may still be present, I found the ability to grasp my emotions through my journaling.
Last July, the anniversary of a young friend’s death passed. I logged LOTS of wrestling time in my journal as I continued to grapple with her death. My sense of all that was good in the world crumbled when a violent car accident ended her life. I poured my heart into my writing at the time of the accident and repeatedly since then.
In my recent review of my journals I discovered a beautiful thing. My writing gave witness to the transformation of my grief. In places that I did not think possible two years ago, I am now able to re-visit her memory and find joy in the life that she had. Immediately following her death, I could hardly bear the loss. Now I can reflect on her life and find the gift that existed in our brief journey together. Words will not bring her back but they now reflect an emerging hope.
The journey and all that we feel along the way truly matters.
My emotions swirl deep during painful milestones of life. As we surrendered emotions onto journal pages, however, the pain flows through the pen and somehow became validated. Pain and confusion take on the form of words. Once we put words to the difficult undercurrents, we begin to move forward in the path of healthy grieving. Faith emerges. A sense of calm replaces the distant and empty feelings.
When our journaling becomes more than a catalog of the day’s events, we are able to process the depth of our thoughts. It’s a type of writing that gives expression to emotions that threaten to pillage our souls in reckless abandon. Instead, give words to them. An amazing thing happens…they become more manageable. Insights emerge. Inspiration flows. Through our rising awareness of experiences, we learn. We grow.
What is rumbling through your soul today?
Take a few moments to pause and pour out your heart in words. A few guidelines…
No editing or censoring
Weave emotions with the diary facts
Phrases and incomplete sentences encouraged
Questions and unsolved dilemmas highly valued
Writing offers the opportunity to be vulnerable. Over time, thoughts to begin assemble and clarity emerges. God is present. Healing begins.