My home is filled with journals. You’ll find them tucked into a drawer in my writing desk, lined on office shelves and stored in plastic boxes. Their pages recount my adventures living overseas and walking the Camino de Santiago. They offer glimpses into my days and contain memories I want to preserve.
Journaling—writing and preserving my thoughts, hopes and dreams—not only helps me remember my days but also deepens my faith. Here are three spiritual lessons I’ve learned from this practice.
1. Journaling connects us to our Creator.
Writing is an act of creation—bringing words to life in the world. When we journal we can give thanks for all acts of creation. God’s first work in the world was to create and to call it good. In our writing and remembering we feel connected to the one who created us and calls us to care for all of creation: words, nature, animals and humans.
Sometimes my writing is a response to Scripture and the beauty found in God’s word. Sometimes I write about my days. Sometimes I write questions; other times, prayers. In all the writing I do, I feel connected to God, who first breathed life into the world, the God who was in the beginning, the Word. The more I write the more I feel God’s love. And the more we journal the more we see ourselves as creative beings with gifts to share.
2. Journaling helps us express our feelings more deeply.
As soon as I became pregnant with each of my children, I began writing to them. I’d share about my days and what I was feeling. Still today, as my children continue to grow, I write to them. I have notebooks filled with glimpses into their personality. These journals were written both for my children and for me—as a way to remember this time but, more importantly, for them to never doubt how loved they are. When they’re older, I look forward to giving these journals to my children.
Journaling helps us write the words and truths that are sometimes hard to speak out loud. With the written word we can tell our children, family and friends what they mean to us. Sometimes we’ll need to write hard truths or ask for forgiveness. Sometimes we’ll be the ones to forgive through a written note. Journaling is one way we can explore the depths of our emotions. The more we work out our feelings on paper, the more we can share those truths with others and with God. God cares for all parts of us—the feelings we articulate out loud and the ones we write.
3. Journaling is an act of prayer.
As a mom with two kids under 4, I don’t have much time to myself. Sometimes after a long day of meltdowns, food prep, cleaning, driving back and forth to preschool, phone calls and emails, the moment I sit down to write, all I have to offer is my tired body.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
I’ve found if I can use this time to write about my day, this can be prayer. Journaling becomes prayerful when I come to the paper without an agenda, when I write from my heart: the joys of the day, the struggles, the gratitude, the fears, the doubts. When any of us write, we open ourselves to the Spirit at work in us, the Spirit reminding us that how we spend our days and share our lives with others is an offering to God.
I have a challenge for you: today, take some time to sit and write. Be creative. Dig deep into your emotions. Pray through your words. What spiritual lessons will you find with a pen and journal in your hand?