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Monday, May 2, 2016

How Journaling Increases My Hope

Grandpa and Grandma
When I was a young child, we visited my mother's parents regularly. One of the things I remember about my grandmother is that she wrote in her diary every day until a stroke took away that ability. Since her death in 1986, I have treasured a box of her diaries. Her love for keeping a diary, built in me a love for keeping my own. I asked for a diary of my own for Christmas when I was only 11 years old. I was impatient however, so my very first diary was made of scrap paper and yarn.
A few of Grandma's Diaries

Over the years keeping a diary (a daily accounting of my activities) has morphed into keeping a journal (a record of my thoughts, feelings, doubts, and growth). Journaling has often renewed my soul and given me hope.

Journaling gives me hope . . .

1. by reminding me what God has done in my life. When I look back through the pages of my journals, I am reminded of things God has taught me, ways He has shaped my life, people He has brought across my path. I am reminded of verses that have spoken to me and times I have experienced Him in powerful ways. These fill me with hope that the God who never changes will continue to do His work in my life.

2. when I see prayers answered. Many times when I have reread prayers I have written in my journal, I have been surprised (even though I suppose I shouldn't be) at the very specific ways that God has worked in my life, in the lives of others, and in situations around me. This instills in me a confidence that God will continue His work.

3. when I work through to solutions for challenges I am facing. As I pray and meditate on God's Word, as I pour out my heart through pen and paper thinking through a challenge, nearly always I am led to a solution, to a path through whatever the challenge is. Finding the path through gives me hope.

4. when I am reminded of special times and words of encouragement. On those days when I get down, the only one celebrating at my own pity party, reminders of better days, of words of encouragement bring refreshment to my weary soul. These memories and words of encouragement become like diving into cool, clear water on a hot, dry day.

5. by helping me re-member myself when things feel like they are falling apart. In the midst of hard times, in the midst of loss and chaos, I start to lose my sense of self, to feel like I am falling apart. Reviewing my journals reminds me of who I am, who God has been shaping me to be. I walk away from them with a sense of hope that He can keep me together and with a confidence in my true identity.

Do you journal? How has journaling benefited you?

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