Journal writing has the potential to bless our own life, as well as the lives of those who come after us. I often find it very difficult to write a good journal entry though, especially because it seems that no one will care that I worked in the office again that day, picked up toys off the floor for the 1,972 time that month, or made it through another round of meetings for the day.
In other words, I often view journal writing as a detail of my daily routine. When I view it this way, I rarely write in my journal, and rarely get anything out of it. I then feel somewhat guilty though when I hear a church leader speak about the importance of journal writing.
To help myself better understand journaling, I have started looking through what actually makes a good journal entry. As I look at the lives of my ancestors, the things that really stand out to me are when something is recorded that gives me a glimpse of who the person was. As I have thought on this, I have realized that journaling is an amazing opportunity for us to learn about who we really are, as well as to leave a legacy for our posterity after us.
Somehow, when we take the time to write down and record thoughts and feelings, we learn. Writing forces us to give structure to our thoughts and feelings. As our thoughts and feelings become structured, an identity forms within us. We began to understand and see more of why we feel as we do, why we think as we do, and why we act as we do. As we gain this identity, we also gain the ability to change as we see ourselves more clearly, and understand what is taking place inside.
Additionally, as we begin to record our thoughts and feelings, we are beginning to record pieces of ourselves that can stay alive long after we go. These pieces of ourselves can bless our posterity. All of us are drawn to stories that truly reach and touch the emotions and feelings that take place inside of us. The more we are able to write about who we are inside, the more drawn to and connected others become to us.
There is a lot of power in sharing our fears, our sadness, our joy, and our current understanding of life, of politics, religion, or the like. No matter how simple we are, we matter to those around us. Further, when we record these things, we gain the ability to see our progress.
Without a journal, or external record of our internal feelings and thoughts, we can never see our progress or growth. If we want to understand if we have gained more spirituality, more patience, or similar intangible attributes, we have to actually record where we are at with those things. As we do, and as life continues on, we can look back on and actually see how far we have moved from where we were at earlier. The ability to see our progress or change is invaluable as we make course corrections in our lives, and as we recognize what is working and what is not for us.
Recently, there has been a renewed focus in the Church on “making the Sabbath a delight.” During the week I am often so busy that I rarely write in a journal. However, I have decided to try and make “the Sabbath a delight” by trying to actually write a journal entry that would be meaningful for me and my family. As I have sat and tried to write, I still struggled coming up with a topic for that week, as my mind usually goes blank when I sit down to write.
To remedy that problem, I made a list of topics I can use if nothing else comes to mind when I sit down to write. I share this list simply to help you come up with topics or to perhaps start a tradition of journal writing that will help shape you and your posterity. I know that we often fear describing many of these things, but these are the things that our kids and others find most interesting about us, the things that we usually don’t share with them.
There are many ways, of course, to keep a journal, and so just pick what works best for you. For me, typing works best. I type all day for work, so it is a form of writing that I can do quickly. Also, you can keep journals for children, family, or other situations, and I am trying to maintain a journal I record things in occasionally that affect the entire family as well as my own personal journal.
One day, I may actually get good enough at this to record things daily, but for now, my goal is just to make a meaningful entry once a week. Hopefully the following list is helpful to you as you consider ways to make the Sabbath a delight and as you take the time to record things that will be interesting and helpful to you in understanding who you are as well as to your posterity.