I started keeping my first journal when I was seven years old. The pages of large, childish print told of the happenings of a given day and my feelings about it and were unfailingly signed, “See you later, Makayla.” That journal didn’t last long, but it was a start.
I suppose you could say that journaling runs in my blood. I suppose that it wouldn’t be untrue to say that I’ve been exposed to the merits of journaling since before I was born.
When my mom was pregnant with me, she kept journals to document her pregnancy. She wrote about the special things (like how she and my dad got to hear my heartbeat at her most recent doctor’s appointment) and about the mundane things (like how she was craving loads of raw broccoli that day) and everything in between. Fairly recently, she showed me these journals, and it’s been incredible to read her writing from twenty years ago and be exposed to the Lord’s faithfulness even then.
I’ve kept many a journal since that first one at seven years old. What started out as simple records of days soon became my heart and soul on paper…thoughts, experiences, and summaries of conversations, all interwoven with praises and prayers to the Lord. Below, I’ll be discussing three benefits of journaling that I’ve found to be true in my experience.
#1: JOURNALING HELPS YOU ORGANIZE YOUR THOUGHTS.
If you’re anything like me, you probably feel like you never stop thinking. Occasionally, I feel like there’s a cognitive game of ping-pong going on inside my head with all the thoughts bouncing around in there. Journaling is a way to organize those thoughts.
When I attended faith-based counseling (you can read about that here), my counselor commended my habit of journaling. He said that too many people don’t recognize their own feelings until they write them out. I suspect that that’s because of how busy our lives are. We rush from one task to another to another without even taking the time to consider all the thoughts that are ricocheting off the walls of our minds.
The habit of journaling forces you to sit down and sort through all that you’re thinking. It gives you an opportunity to pray through your thoughts. Coupled with the work of the Holy Spirit, journaling can draw you nearer to the very heart of God, who cares deeply about the life of the mind and delights in order and peace (Ephesians 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 14:33a).
#2: JOURNALING REDUCES STRESS.
Pretty much everyone knows the cliché (but still very true) piece of advice that “talking it out helps.” Talking with someone about your thoughts or anxieties is quite beneficial, but it’s not always an option. Perhaps no one is available to talk at the time, or maybe you don’t feel comfortable sharing what you’re feeling quite yet. Journaling is the perfect solution.
It’s an outlet for your thoughts and feelings and can be a catalyst for deep prayer. As an end in itself, journaling is good, but when treated as a launching pad for conversations with the Lord, it is infinitely more beneficial to reduce your stress and restore your soul.
#3: JOURNALING HELPS YOU REMEMBER THE LORD’S FAITHFULNESS.
Oh how often our sinful hearts forget the Lord’s faithfulness! It seems that Spurgeon knew what he was talking about when he said, “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.” But with journaling, our trials and blessings are given equal opportunity at being remembered.
This, in my opinion, is the most important benefit of journaling. By going back and rereading my own entries, I am reminded of how faithful the Lord has been in every season of my life to date.
When I was about to graduate high school and felt myself slipping into a pit of sorrow and distress, He was faithful to hold me fast.
When I was a college freshman just starting out, He was faithful to provide the Christian fellowship I so badly needed.
When I was walking through a season marked by uncertainty at the beginning of my sophomore year, He was faithful to, by grace, carry me through.
Faithful He has been and faithful He will be (Psalm 136:1; 2 Timothy 2:13). May my journaling always reflect that truth.
For those of you who are longtime journalers, comment below and let me know some of your favorite things about pouring out your heart and soul on paper. If you’re a bit newer to the whole journaling scene, share your thoughts about giving it a try below.