JOURNALING -Write your life!

”In order to navigate this journey well, we must remember who we are, where we are going, and who we belong to.”

-Philip K. Hardin, MDiv, LMFT, LPC

By Philip K. Hardin, MDiv, LMFT, LPC

Life is intended to be a journey toward wholeness, maturity, completeness. In order to navigate this journey well, we must remember who we are, where we are going, and who we belong to. However, the greatest enemy to our soul is forgetfulness—the failure to remember. We lose our way on the journey toward wholeness when we fail to remember the critical truths and experiences that bring wisdom to the path that leads us to wholeness. 

Colossians 1:28, 29 – The Message: “… That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity (Greek word telos, which means completion, wholeness). 

We need tools that help us remember. Journaling is one such tool.

We need to be aware. Self-awareness is a critical component of discipleship.

Jesus knew who He was, where He was going, and who He belonged to. Jesus knew the importance of keeping His identity private and when it was time to make it known to the world. He attacked forgetfulness daily by being clear on His mission. 

The more we are self-aware, the better we are able to appreciate the beauty and wonder of God’s creation and how we are unique creations of His hand. As image-bearers of God, we are meant to know and remember how much God embraces us in our brokenness and failures, as well, our gifts and talents. We need to give voice to how we are so fearfully and wonderfully made by God. 

One of the best tools that can aid you on the journey of becoming whole is journaling —a daily recording of your life and process of facing the challenges that are used by the enemy to take you off the path of becoming all God intended you to be. 

Ever wondered why history’s great minds, including Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marcus Aurelius, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Maya Angelou would spend so much of their precious time writing things that will never be seen by another soul? It was their way of staying on course, accomplishing the impossible, and persevering through unthinkable circumstances. 

Jim Rohn says, “If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.

Journaling helps you prioritize, clarify thinking, and accomplish your most important tasks, over urgent busy work.

Thinking in writing has this magical quality of clarifying your thoughts.

Michael Hyatt says“What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps sort this out.”

Journals give you a record of the progress you’ve made toward your goals to keep you motivated in the long slog of actually reaching them.

Judy Willis MD, a neurologist, and former classroom teacher explains“The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.”

What you write, you control. You don’t have to spend your whole morning writing, but the only rule is to write continuously. Be consistent to make the most of it.

“Writing in a journal each day, with a structured, strategic process allows you to direct your focus to what you did accomplish, what you’re grateful for, and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day, feel good about any forward progress you made, and use a heightened level of clarity to accelerate your results,” says Hal Elrod, author of “The Miracle Morning.” 

Journaling is a practical and accessible way to stay connected to your inner self, your body, your dreams and your purpose in life.

How to Start Journaling

I do not believe you can grow as God intended without journaling. It is a must. Without writing it down and recording your journey, you are far too passive. Growth is meant to be intentional and deliberate. You must engage! Here’s how:

Begin each day with responding to three questions: 

1.     Where are you? 

2.     What do you want? 

3.     What are you afraid of? 

Where are You? 

Genesis 3:9, 10– The Message: “God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”

That is the question that God asked Adam after he and Eve became separated from God due to their disobedience by eating from the tree that God had instructed them not to. The Enemy deceived Eve by leading her to believe that somehow God was withholding the “good stuff” from them. This question was a tool to help Adam and Eve get back on track with God. The question elicits vulnerability, honesty, and presence. “NOW” is the most important moment of your life. Being present and being aware leads to empowerment, especially when it is done in the presence of God. He will restore when we are honest, vulnerable, and present with God. 

What do you want? 

God works through our desires. Certainly, we have to be wise and honest regarding our desires. We can desire from an unredeemed heart and end up in self-destructive behavior. Jesus, however, brought healing to people by first asking “What do you want …?” He asked this question because he wanted people to be fully engaged in the process. This question elicits participation and responsibility in the healing process. It calls us to awareness and ownership for what we need to grow. Often our desires are not so wrong, as shallow. For example, a man who desires intimacy will settle for pornography. 

C.S. Lewis says “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak … We are far too easily pleased.”

Ask the question and go deep into your heart to see what you need. 

What are you afraid of? 

Fear is the opposite of love. We need lots of love to grow. It’s like fertilizer. Fear is robbing our life of the love we need. If we are to grow into wholeness, we must face our fears. If you want to grow, then determine what you are afraid of and attack the fear. Facing fear is what helped David kill Goliath. He looked the giant in the eye and slayed the giant that had taunted God’s people. The story is classic and inspirational in moving us to face our fears and trust God to do what seems to be impossible. 

Journaling opens our imagination and helps us see the work that God has done and is doing.

Open your heart today. Write your life – you are worth it! 

Ride ON!