The Journaling Novice:

Up to this point in life I’ve not been a journaling soul. I think my main reasons were that I didn’t think I had the time and that I’ve never been one to be unable to get my thoughts “out there.” My husband loves to tell people that he “never has to wonder what I’m thinking!” However, in recent months, two things have prompted me to start journaling. First, I’ve been selling WOW journals to everyone I know for fund-raising, and it seemed crazy to sell something that you’ve never used yourself! Secondly, I’m leading a group study on the book, “Fervent,” by Priscilla Shirer. As we are going through it (this is now my second time), the pointed and powerful prayer strategies lend themselves well to using a journal.

I’ve enjoyed the clarity that journaling has given me in my life when it comes to prayer, but a benefit that I didn’t count on was how meaningful it is to me as a “visual learner.” Though I do talk… a lot…I am aware that my natural learning style is heavily weighted to the visual spectrum of learning. When I write out verses related to praying for my family, pressures, fears, hurts, etc. and the promptings that the Holy Spirit gives about those verses and prayers, I then hone in on what some of the over-arching related principles are. I then draw a little sketch or highlight in pretty colors what I really need to imprint on my brain. I also do this same thing when I include quotes from other books that I’m reading in my journal. All of this helps to sync things in my mind -- and I need all the help I can get with that!

While my personal experience with journaling started out with me just picking a journal up and venturing forward, I’ve since been learning from the writings and podcasts of wise people who’ve really put time into learning about journaling. I’m interested in improving my ability to lead, and Bill Hybels has said that journaling helps your ability to grow as a leader because it increases your self-awareness. He believes self-awareness is one of the “top qualities in the life of truly effective leaders.” I’ve found this to be true so far as I write about what’s going on in my life. For instance, “that conversation with the group was a good chance to cast vision, but I was a little short with ‘Judy’ (who drives me crazy) and I need to work on that. Lord, please help me to be more careful about being patient.” As I write, I’m having this clear conversation with God while I’m training myself. In the same way that a contract makes things very real and binding, I think it’s harder to ignore the things that I need to work on when I write them in my journal.

Regarding my prior assumption that I didn’t have time to journal, in my maturing faith I’m becoming more keenly aware of the need to prioritize my time by what impacts eternity. Dr. David Jeremiah recently spoke about journaling, and his conclusions are worth noting when I think about this eternal perspective. He sees journaling as a way to slow down and discipline yourself to gradually transform yourself through the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). He believes journaling is a daily account of your walk with God and a chart of your spiritual growth. Jeremiah emphasizes that the Bible is replete with instruction for us to remember (1 Chronicles 16:17, Ecclesiastes 12:1, Hebrews 10:32) and he believes that our personal journal allows us to be good at remembering what God has done. This can then spur us on in our growth and honestly color our daily experience of walking with God. Finally, he concludes that journaling helps you to reflect on the meaning of your experiences (good and bad) as you record the progress that you are making in your spiritual journey.

I am truly excited about my new adventure in journaling, and I hope that you’ll consider joining those of us in WOW who are now beginning a fun way of getting journaling information out into our circles of influence. In addition to great conversation, food and coffee, these in-home events, called Journal Jam & Java, will feature experienced journaling folk to share their insights! Please stay tuned for more details as the first one will be on July 23rd in Wadsworth!

-- Shelly Mountjoy © June 2017