The Power of Keeping a Journal

I have been a blogger going on 7 years now. I started with a simple person website where I took some pictures and posted them online in a type of photo-blog. This turned into a family website as the kids were born and from there several other blogs were started to post info on various subjects and topics.

Along the way I felt the need to express some feeling on some personal issues that I was facing. I wanted to have a place where I could say anything that I wanted but did not ever want that to get out. I needed a place to unload so that I did not unload inappropriately towards anyone.

Thus my personal journal was born.

I setup a personal password protected website online. This was so that I could access it anywhere I had an internet connection but at the same time if someone accidentally stumbled upon it they would not be able to access it. I didn’t feel comfortable with keeping a hand written journal because that could easily be opened and read and because I prefer to type as opposed to write with a pen.

What do I write in my journal?

Anything and everything except people’s names. If by the slim chance that someone did find my journal they would really need to know me and the people I know in order to really know who or what I was talking about. My journal is not for others to read anyway. It is a place for me to empty and collect my thoughts so that when I do interact with other people I can do so more effectively.

For instance, today before I wrote this post I wrote a post in my journal. The post was about a disagreement that I had with someone. When I started the post I was extremely upset at this person. But as I wrote the post and saw the reason that I had stated that I was upset I realized that it was not such a big deal after all. I ended the post writing about how thankful I was that this person was in my life and how thankful I was that I knew God was going to resolve this issue. I went from anger to thankfulness in 500 words or less.

The God Factor

The other thing that I write about a lot is my relationship with God. I actually type/write prayers to God in my journal. There are even times where I express my anger or frustration with God because I either don’t like a situation that I am in or I don’t understand it. By doing this it helps me to work through my feelings and I feel it has really help my relationship with God grow.

I think writing to God is very similar to the psalms where David and the other authors expressed their wide array of feelings about and towards God. Here are some examples:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
– Psalm 10:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
– Psalm 22:1

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
– Psalm 42:9

I heard a message where the pastor spoke about how it is actually healthy to express our anger towards God. He mentioned that God can handle our anger and that when we open up to God in that way it can actually strengthen our relationship with Him. Now I am not saying that you should just open your journal everyday and yell at God. I believe that dialogue with God should be a two-way street. We talk – He listens, He talks – we listen. Communication is at the root of any good relationship.

The public journal

Just as I believe that it is healthy to have a personal and private journal I think having a public journal (or blog) is also a good idea. With a public journal it forces you to take what you have worked out privately and share it with others. Just as I shared here about how I worked through a disagreement in my personal journal, it shows the human side of me. It allows me to show people that I am not perfect and that I do have disagreements and make mistakes.

I also believe that a public journal can be a form of accountability as well. When you post something on your public journal you are opening yourself up to be scrutinized and judged by others. Other people can and will be quick to point out when your may be a little off in your views and/or thinking.

Due to the high probability of people judging your written words a lot of people opt not to be public with their thoughts and views, and I think that is a very wise decision. People have a tendency to be mean and cruel to each other especially when they are masked by a computer screen.

I have had my fair share of negative comments on this site. I have a choice to either approve or delete each comment but 99.9% of the time I opt to approve the comment for all to see. I am aware of the risks of posting my thoughts on religion for anyone in the world to see but I believe that when you allow people to express their feelings without censorship that you will gain their respect. This website is not about me forcing my opinion on others, but to share my experiences in walking with God so that others can see that I am human and do make mistakes. But even when my life is broken and in need of repair, God is still their to pick me up, dust me off, heal me, and send me on my way. I want people to know that if God can do it for me then He will do it for them too.

The wrap up

I believe that with any good blog post or journal entry you need to have a wrap up. The wrap up is a summary of all the things discussed in the entry and what the lesson that has been learned is. For this post, the wrap up is, that I believe that journalling is a healthy and productive way for a person to work through their own thoughts and issues in a non-judgmental arena. It is a place where they can talk with God and get perspective on things.

With a public-facing journal people can share what they have worked through in their personal journal for others to benefit from. It is a place where a person can spawn a discussion around something they feel is important that they want other people’s input on. It is also a place where a person can show their human side so that others can have a reasonable expectation of them.

I believe that the happiest and most productive times in my life have been when I have journalled both privately and publicly on a consistent basis. In the times that I have dropped off journalling is when I feel that issues and problems seem more overwhelming and difficult. For me journalling helps me to keep the perspective that I believe God wants me to have.

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