OK, you’ve read the title of this article, so there’s no hiding the point here. Maybe you’re interested because you already write in a journal. Or maybe you’re a To Unearth follower, so you thought you’d at least read a few paragraphs before you click the “x” at the corner of your screen. You may be skeptical because the concept of keeping a journal may sound “girly” or like “something I might do in middle school.” Your first thought might be, “I don’t have time for that,” or “That’s not something I enjoy.”
Or maybe you’re none of the above, and you just want to get to the point here.
Well, keep an open mind and keep reading, because there are at least three benefits of journaling that you just may find interesting.
To remember where you were
It’s probably not a surprise that a main reason you should keep a journal is to have the opportunity to remember the journey. Our memories have a funny way of only holding onto certain moments or remembering things the way we want instead of the way they were. Unless your mind is like a steel trap, you probably don’t recall with excellence how you were thinking or reacting to different events as they occurred throughout your past.
The reason remembering where you were is important is that it gives you a tangible way to give thanks for how God has healed you, the strength God gave you to get through, or the way God blessed you during that season of calm. Yes, it gives you a way to laugh at yourself, too, as you remember what you worried over and how you reacted to your circumstances.
Enjoy the laughter, enjoy the memories, enjoy remembering where you were.
To recognize where you are
There’s something humbling about reading your own words, almost like looking into a mirror. The you staring back looks and feels different from the you who wrote those words. When the ink was still drying, you had specific thoughts and challenges and goals. What has changed since then? Where are you now?
When you look at those pages, you may find you’ve matured and grown. You no longer struggle with the same issues. You can praise God for how He has formed you to look a little more like the glorious self He created you to become.
Or, you may find you’re not that different. You’re still frustrated about the same things, and you haven’t forgiven that person yet. While this may seem bleak, looking into your past to find no difference still gives you insight. You now have evidence right there in your hands that things need to change. Prayer needs to increase, actions need to start, habits need to break.
Ignoring the truth will only create more discouragement. Recognize where you are, and keep moving forward, since that’s the only direction time travels.
To change where you’re going
Something stirs inside you when you read your words from years past or even last month. After you get over the laughter at your past immaturity or the surprise at how together you were for your age, there’s a twinge in your heart. It may take some time to recognize why, but there’s something about remembering who you were that spurs you on to change where you’re going.
History class teaches us how people lived and why world events transpired. Teachers discuss how history is important to help us learn from our past and not make the same mistakes. We can use our journals like history books, a reminder of where certain attitudes took us or how prayer changed us.
Maybe opening your journal isn’t just about not making the same mistakes, though. What if you’re reminded about the passion you once had? Or your desires to pursue Christ with all your heart? What if the pages take you back to a time when you were self-disciplined and healthy in body and soul?
Journaling can provide you with more than memories that warn you of what not to repeat. It can provide you with a way to change where you’re going as you remember your goals and dreams. Sometimes we need that push to remind us we’ve strayed from our desires as a result of growing comfortable with the easy path. Don’t live in the past, but use it to help shape you as you move forward.
Let’s Talk About It: What are your thoughts on journaling? How do you document your ideas and desires?