Keeping a journal can be a really simple way to turn your attention to Jesus, and to encounter him in your day-to-day life. Here are five tips on how to journal well.
1. MAKE IT YOUR OWN
There’s freedom in knowing that there’s no ‘wrong way’ to journal. You can scribble in a notebook, or use a document on your computer. Your journal can be formal or informal, creative or more structured, made up of long entries or short ones. It can be a place for recording your emotions, writing out your prayers, reflecting on scripture, recording God’s promises, or dreaming about tomorrow.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE TO DEVELOP A HABIT
The joy of journaling comes from developing a habit over the long term, so keep it simple enough that you keep coming back. Don’t set the bar too high, and be modest in your expectations. If you’re aiming to write for an hour each day, you’re much less likely to develop a habit than if your expectation is just five minutes.
3. DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY…
Your journaling doesn’t need to be jaw-droppingly profound. So die to any pressure you feel to write something groundbreaking every time you sit to write. Think of your journal as a conversation between you and God, not something that someone else will someday read. And if you believe God is speaking to you, weigh these things rather than holding them too tightly. As Pastor David Mathis says: “Be slow to let one dramatic flurry of journaling inspiration direct a major life decision without carefully testing it over time and in community.”
4. BUT TAKE GOD VERY SERIOUSLY
Your journal can be a place not just for honest feelings, thoughts and emotions, but for divine encounter. So turn your thoughts into prayers on paper, and apply Gospel truth to your fears and frustrations, your joys and your sorrows. Try to saturate your journal with the truth about who God is and who you are.
When journalling feels a struggle, and the newness wears off, ask for God’s strength to keep going. Often the hardest part is simply making the decision to sit down, open the book and start writing. But God is faithful, he loves spending time with you, and he’ll speak.