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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Gift of Journaling

I have been writing about journal writing a lot lately because a few weeks ago, I gave my sister a journal for her birthday and I have since been thinking about it from her perspective.

My sister Becki is a busy woman. Her work and her personal life are both filled (and I mean filled and overflowing) with people who have tremendous, complicated, and seemingly un-solvable problems. It would be easy to feel overwhelmed and depressed. That’s me talking; I don’t get the sense that she feels that way. Nonetheless, my point is that she has a lot going on in her life. And who doesn’t, right?

Becki and I are very different people. I am expressive; I have to articulate every experience and every feeling and reaction to every experience. I have to analyze and “digest” everything in my life; Becki is quiet, more reserved, more private. I know she thinks and feels though, so when I was thinking of what to get her for her birthday, a journal came to mind. It was like how inspirations and dreams come like a bang on the head – I knew I had to get her a journal!

I wanted to encourage Becki to write without being too enthusiastic or too pushy. I also knew I couldn’t have my own agenda: I really don’t care what she writes, but I also had to not care if she writes. I just wanted to give her a blank book and share with her my own passion for writing. So I didn’t buy her a really fancy journal because I thought she might feel it was too pretty to write in; I also didn’t give her a college-lined spiral notebook because those are a dime a dozen (literally) and I wanted her to know that her thoughts are worth more than that. I got her a basic journal book, big enough to write in easily, but small enough to fit in her bag and carry with her all the time.

Becki expressed her appreciation and I was glad because I’d responded to my inspiration and then let it go. Whether she writes or not is up to her. I have no expectations, yet I have to admit, I’m really excited about the prospect of my sister writing! She is an incredible, fascinating woman with very interesting life experiences, and every now and then, when she talks, I am captured by her perspectives. If she writes, she may fill the journal I got her and several more after that with a bunch of crap (remember, “shit happens”), but sooner or later, gems will start to fall onto the pages. Of this I am certain!

So anyway, I gave her the journal and that was that. Then, a few weeks later, she and I went to visit my daughter at college. As we were driving, Becki said to me, “so tell me about journaling”.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Do you want to know about my journaling group?”

“No. Tell me about journaling. Why do it? What do you write? How does it work?”

Ah, the gate was open and I was ready to run! An opportunity to share my passion with my dear sister! We talked a bit, but I have a tendency to say than most people want to hear, so I tried to remain reserved. Besides that, I write better than I talk, so my mind is still chewing on her questions and well, I have to write about them!

I am passionate about writing because of my own personal experience with it. There are lots of things that are good for us – diet and exercise; prayer and meditation; having a dog in your life – I care about all these things. But writing… Oh my goodness!

Writing is mysterious and magical - it is the “bread of life” that Jesus talked about; it is that sip of “living water” that reconnects the broken human heart to the omnipotent God. I’m talking about journal writing – the private process of finding God.

I gave my sister a simple journal, but what I hope is that I could share with her and with others the experience of being touched by God unexpectedly.

Pen, paper, stolen moments of solitude …

Take them and indulge yourself.

Soon the sky will open and you will be drenched in

“God moments”

that make you sing in the rain.


  1. Why does the font keep changing on me when I hit the "publish post" button?! Sorry for the inconsistency in the look, folks... :(

  2. I can see why sharing your journaling experience would be so exciting, especially if it helps your sister to get started!

    I would like to personally invite you to #JournalChat, a new chat on Twitter I host/moderate for all things journaling, on Thursdays at 2 EST/11 PST. You're welcome to join us and share the benefits of your journaling experience. Here's a link for more info:

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring