How’s that for a title? About four years ago, I was doing some real hard work on myself. There were some things I really wanted to change about myself, things that have defined me my entire life. Parts of me that existed because of my upbringing but I knew I shouldn’t act that way. I knew they were not good traits about myself. These things were control and anger. I was so controlling and I was constantly micro-managing my husband and the people around me. I honestly have no idea why my husband stuck around with how awful I used to be. I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t know how to just stop being controlling and angry. My fuse was so short and patience was a word I didn’t understand. So I joined a ministry at my church and started working on myself.
During this process, we were constantly told to journal as part of our homework. Back then, the thought would make my skin crawl. I didn’t want to write about my life. I didn’t want to write about my feelings. I didn’t even understand my feelings to be able to write about it. I was told by my leaders to try, just try and then keep trying.
Try I did. After a few semi-consistent days of journaling, I started to see the benefits. I didn’t fall in love with journaling right away but I saw that it took some of the weight off my shoulder. It made me feel lighter. Like the notebook and the pages were carrying the weight instead of me. Some times, I was able to write some things out and then walk away from them and they stopped weighing on my mind. Sometimes, I would vent out my frustrations and I would see that the frustration wasn’t as big of a deal as my brain was making it out to be. If it was something I didn’t think I could address with someone, I quickly saw that I could. It just took mapping out the whole situation on paper to see it. Sometimes, I think I get so caught up in my own head and focus on a single thought train or a single piece of the whole picture that the rest gets lost in my emotions. When I sit down with a pen and piece of paper, I noticed I started slowing down and actually thinking about the situation as a whole instead of the one part that hurt me or irritated me or made me feel some type of emotion.
Sometimes, while I was journaling, I’ve realized that I was the one in the wrong, even if I thought I was right in the moment of something. I usually think I’m right. In my journal though, slowing down and looking at the whole picture I would find that I wasn’t as right as I thought I was. Astonishingly, I was okay with the fact that I was wrong. I was also okay with going back and apologizing to whoever I needed to apologize to. If I just allowed myself to focus on the one part and the thought that I was in the right, I would have never realized that I’m not as infallible as I think I am.
Journaling is so powerful. I’ve written other posts about how amazing journaling is and how it is so beneficial. I believe these things from the bottom of my heart. In a world of speed and gotta get there now or gotta get it done right now, it is such a good thing to slow down. It goes against all of my natural instincts, but dang does it feel great. It feels great to step back from myself in a sense and see everything from a different perspective. When I journal, I don’t just list facts, I explain the why behind it. Why I felt a certain way, why that person might have responded that way, what I said before the thing that hurt me. When we are hurt, it isn’t because of one thing, it is like an onion, it has multiple layers. There is more than just the fact that someone said something that hurt me. When I’m feeling stressed, I’m not stressed because of one commitment or obligation or thing I want to do. I’m stressed because of other things and those other things are the things I need to realize. If I’m feeling stressed, it helps to know why to write it out and figure it out like a puzzle. Stress is not a good emotion, I don’t care what high productivity coach wants to argue with me, there is no such thing as good stress. I’ve lived with stress my entire life and I can promise you that it is not a good emotion. It does things to your thought process, to your body, stress can affect everything including your relationships. I think “good stress” is being mislabeled for motivation. You need the motivation to get something accomplished, you don’t need to be stressed about getting it done.
This is just how I got started journaling, someone forced me to try and once I saw the benefits, I never wanted to stop. I fell in love with journaling over time once I saw how it made me feel better. It’s like mental exercise. If going to the gym and working out is great for your physical health, journaling is the gym for your mind. It is so good for your mental health. This is why I believe everyone should be journaling.
As I grew in my relationship with Jesus and my faith, I’ve started to use journaling as a way to talk to God. Writing is something that I love and enjoy and writing can even be an act of worship for me. I feel God leading me when I’m struggling with a decision and I’m writing about it. A lot of time, while I’m writing, I’ll remember other things I need or should pray for and add them in as a prayer into my journal. It’s fun to go through my journal later and see what God has answered. I also use journaling to cement my faith in what I know to be true. Life can get hard and when storms hit, it is so easy to feel like God isn’t there. That is when I go back to my journal and look at the truths God has given me. The truths I have read in the Bible. I know who God is, I don’t feel who God is. Feelings can be misleading and influenced. Truth cannot be. That is why I journal and invite God into my writing sessions. I also keep a gratitude list of things I am thankful for. Sometimes, I forget all the good I have because I’m too focused on the hard stuff, the stressful stuff. Finding the things I’m thankful for is like finding the sunbeam through a dark, stormy cloud.
Now, I have a HUGE announcement. You might have already seen it on Instagram if you follow me over there but I am PUBLISHING A BOOK!
I still can’t believe I get to say those words. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and I never thought I would see this day. I wrote a journaling devotional designed to help you dig deeper in your relationship with God and get into the habit of journaling. My book is called & Jesus and will be released May 7th! You can preorder your ebook here. The paperback version will be available on May 7th. I am publishing through Amazon so Kindle is the e-reader but that might be changing!