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Journaling for the Soul
A journal can serve so many purposes. There are food journals to assist with weight loss, home improvement journals, baby keepsake journals, and travel journals, just to name a few. I started my first journal at age 15 simply because I wanted to remember what it was like to be that age, and realized that if I didn't write it down, I would forget. Just recently, I began blank book number 12! These simple books, filled with life's memories, are among my most prized possessions.
But what about a journal for the soul? - a journal devoted to one's relationship with God? What would such a journal contain? It could be a series of letters to God. Just as sometimes it is easier to write a letter or send an email as opposed to picking up the phone or having a face-to-face conversation, it can be easier to speak to God through writing. In this case, this journal would be a form of prayer, a conversation with God.
Such a journal might be used to write about one's relationship with God. It could be a place for indicating where God was for you on any given day. Did you find God in another person, in the smile of a child, in the kindness of a stranger, or perhaps in creation, in a beautiful sunrise or a crisp autumn day? When did God feel absent? Was there a time that you felt alone and abandoned? This journal might be as simple as a list of positives and negatives.
A journal for the soul might also contain a list of goals for where you would like your spiritual life to be. Would you like to devote more time to prayer? Perhaps attend church services more frequently? Spend more time appreciating nature? Be kinder to those you encounter each day? Writing down these goals can be a first step to making them a priority in your life. You could then include what steps you take to make those goals a reality.
In addition, you might want to reflect on your spiritual history. Looking back at your life, can you see God at work? Do you see a plan taking shape, a direction in which you feel that you have been pushed? Were there times that you rejected God and attempted to make it on your own? What brought you back into a relationship with God? Looking at one's past can be integral in moving to a new future.
What should your journal look like? That is entirely up to you. A simple notebook can do, as can any blank book with lines sold everywhere from the local dollar store to the high end leather bound variety at the upscale bookstore. Pick something that you will treasure and want to write in, but not so intimidating that you fear your writing in it will "ruin" it. Some of you may be tempted to use your computer. This can work fine if you resist the urge to use the "delete" key at every turn. This is not supposed to be a grammatically perfect and spell-checked document but rather an honest look at one's life. If you do use a computer, however, I would suggest printing out your entry to keep someplace else. Computer files are notorious for getting lost or destroyed and you may want to look back on those pages years from now to see where you have been and how far you have come!
In any case, a journal should be a record of the journey. We come to know God through our experiences of daily life. A spiritual journal offers a place for reflection and can be a very useful tool in fostering your relationship with God.
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is the editor of The Spiritual Woman Newsletter