I get asked by a lot of different people how I journal. And usually they are asking that question in one of two ways: 1) what do I write about and how do I come up with my content? Or 2) literally HOW do I have time for it with a young child?
I started journaling a few years ago after I took a class at our previous church on Lectio Devina style bible study. If you aren’t familiar with this style, it’s a mix of scriptural study, meditation, and prayer. Basically, I take an area of scripture of my choice or per my devotional and read it a few times while underlining the areas that stand out to me. Then, I meditate on it and what it means to apply that to my life. And this is when I begin writing. Maybe it’s something I struggle with – so why do I think that is? Maybe I feel convicted or maybe God is using it to tell me something – so how do I feel when reading it?
This style is what I would recommend for someone wanting to get started with scriptural journaling. There are studies you can purchase that focus on Lectio Devina style that are great. They tell you what scripture to focus on and give you prompts to think about along with questions to answer. One that I have enjoyed is The Message Solo Devotional which you can find HERE. In it, each scripture reading has 4 prompts: read, think, pray, and live which are REALLY helpful. There are a few different versions of this book, so do some research and choose the one that is most appropriate for you.
I talk a lot about scriptural journaling below; however, as I journaled more and more I learned different applications in which to use it. For example, I journaled about things I learned while working in children’s ministry – handling certain situations; lessons I learned in keeping a healthy personal life (because ministry is so easily intertwined); and difficult/awkward social interactions I needed to process through. So keep in mind that journaling can be used to develop more than your walk with Jesus.
Journaling takes practice…
I have learned for myself that typically, things that I can not put into words come out much clearer in my journaling. So much so that it actually takes me by surprise sometimes. This has come with time though. Just like with most things journaling takes practice. It’s taken me a little while to get comfortable with it and appreciate it as much as I do. If I hadn’t realized that shortly after starting then I probably would have stopped after the first week of it. I look back at my journal from this past year and I see so much growth. I don’t mean I improved my writing skills, I mean I can see the Lord developing me as a person and leader through my writing.
So here is what I can tell you…even if you aren’t a “natural” when it comes to writing, give journaling a try anyway. And do it consistently for at least a week or two before you decide it’s not for you.
How do I have time for journaling?
Well…I hate to disappoint but I am not perfect and the doing it part isn’t usually pretty as the mom of a toddler. Nope, I don’t have a special quiet place that I sit with a yummy blueberry muffin and a hot cup of coffee. Pssh…I can’t even remember the last coffee I drank hot! Maybe I will get to enjoy some quieter times with hotter coffee when my kid is a little older but I’m not holding my breath.
The truth is it takes discipline – you MAKE TIME for it. And by “make time”, I mean if you can’t concentrate with a lot of noise, then wake up before the kids. Yes, at the crack of dawn, or, wait until they are in bed at night to journal. Hopefully you will see the value in what you are doing so much that you don’t give up the first time you have an “excuse” to. If you want to do it, make time for it, and give it enough time to really appreciate it. Sometimes my journaling gets interrupted by a child who wants me to sing “Old McDonald” for the tenth time that morning, but I’ll take it as a lesson in learning patience before I give up on the investment of journaling.
I’m not sure of your reason for wanting to journal but I can tell you if your focus is drawing close to God and taking an active role in Him developing you, then you have to be all in. Jesus doesn’t want luke warm, he wants on fire; he is waiting for you to put in the work and come to Him, whether it’s through journaling or some other form of devotion. In the quiet or in the chaos, make the time for Him. He is worth it.
Journaling is an investment…
That is exactly what it is…an investment in myself. Whether you are a mom, dad, husband, wife, or none of the above, we all need to make time to personally invest in ourselves. That is how we become healthy in every aspect – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So how are you spiritually growing? Do you struggle in your one on one time with God? What about your emotional health? The more aware you are of your emotions; how you respond in certain situations; and how God wired you; the healthier you will be. What will it take for you to become aware of those things? For me it took writing things down and processing things on paper.
Do you enjoy journaling? I’d love to hear any other tips or ideas that work for you. Comment below!