09
Mar

Looking for God in Your Journal…

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Journaling, as you might suspect, is rather easy for me. Time and again, my non-writer friends tell me that they admire me keeping a journal and swear that they can’t do it. I tell them it’s because their definition of a journal is way too narrow.

If you thought journaling was just for Bridget Jones, Princess Mia and Anne Frank, and that you could only write prose in a journal, here’s the truth: you can color, draw, doodle, make lists, and write poems in a journal, too. In fact mine is usually a conglomeration of several of the above.

In reality that journal is yours. Thus, you can put whatever you want in it. You can write your thoughts  in a spiral, turning your journal every which way to create a path to the center of the page or wherever you want it to go. An exchange student friend of my daughter’s was a great artist and filled her journal pages with drawings that reflected her thoughts about being so far away from home. She allowed us to see portions of it and it was just beautiful! Others like to put inspirational quotes or Bible verses in their journals.

If you’re not into drawing or writing, how about just making a bullet list or numbered list? The list can be about anything you want: your bucket list, your goals, or even the confusion in your head that is a little easier to ponder when thrown into a list.

Bottom line: There are no rules! Just write or draw what’s in your head…even if that’s “I can’t think what I should write here” 18 times in a row. (When I do that, eventually another thought or two pop up that I can put down and then I can’t stop thinking.)

Did you know that journaling is actually considered a spiritual discipline because God can speak to you as you write, doodle, draw, make lists, and color? I would never have thought of journaling as a vehicle for communicating with God! But, as I’ve gone through Heartpaths, I’m always amazed by what goes on in those pages that I know didn’t come from my feeble brain.

Heartpaths suggested I write down what God did with my prayer time like a reporter. But, as I “report,” God often adds “on”–either by clarifying my thinking, linking my prayer experience to something else or by reminding me of an appropriate Scripture.

Marjorie Thompson says that if questions for God are all you can think of as you journal, divide the journal page in half vertically and write your question exclusively on the left side of the page. Then, ask God to answer the question on the right side.

You are God’s scribe for that right side. This has become one of my favorite ways to journal because often, before I even finish penning my question, God is already answering! A Scripture comes to mind or something peacefully authoritative comes through. All I have to do is be willing to write it down (even if it feels weird or silly).

Do all questions get answered by God? Uh. No. I’m not Samuel, Eli, or Jonah…even on my best day! But, it does surprise me when I know the answer was not me.

Below is a sample of my journal. The italicized parts are my entries and the bolded parts are what was given to me to write as answers:

What is the best way for me to respond to Joe Doe? 

Love him as I would love him.

I am scared I will fail at that and then he will lash out at me and that ouches. 

I know.

How do I deal with that fear and pain in the moment?

Let me deal with that–the peace that passes all understanding.

What if I feel anything but peaceful in that moment?

“I will never, never fail you, nor forsake you.” 

But sometimes I feel like I have been failed, that I have been forsaken, even when I know it’s not true, intelligently. What is that about?

Your fear. Your lack of trust in me. I am who I am. I don’t change. You do.

What am I losing sight of when I change?

Me. Even you have said, “Feelings are not bad or good. It’s what you do with them that counts.”

But tears and sadness and rejection and loneliness hurt so much, Lord.

I know. I’ve been rejected, too. 

So what do I do to stop the pain?

You don’t. The pain is not the problem. Your faith in me is the problem. I will see you through the pain. 

How exactly? 

Ah. That is the mystery of me. Haven’t you already experienced that?

Yes, I have. But I still fear pain in all  forms. How do I move past this fear a little more easily? 

I know [you fear pain]. Rest in me. Abide in me. Follow me. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Satan uses pain and your fear of it to control you, to keep us apart from each other.

Then, is it wrong to use modern things to control pain, to prevent heart attacks, etc.? 

No. I created great minds and great people to give you those modern things. Many of them were serving me by doing that. But I can heal you, too. I want to heal you. But you often won’t let me. 

Why don’t I believe you can heal me forever of my chronic health problems and my soul’s pain? 

You haven’t known how much I love you until now. I died on a cross to save and heal you, MaryAnn….Just trust that I do want to heal you. It may take time to trust me completely, but I am here, whenever you need me. I have conquered darkness and death already. 

Did journaling just get a little more interesting?

Point to Ponder # 1: Find the perfect journal for you. Some like a simple spiral notebook, a binder with notebook paper, steno pads, unlined pages for drawings or lined pages. Some want it to be secure, so no one can hack it without your permission (I do not recommend an online journal! There is something magical about journaling longhand.) I finally chose a zippered version with my favorite Bible verse on the cover. There are also Bible verses at the bottom of each page and I’m amazed at how often they are relevant to what I wrote above them.

Point to Ponder # 2: Read the chapters on journaling in Soul Feast or Creating a Life with God for tips and suggestions on how to spiritually journal.

Point to Ponder # 3: Get a timer and set it for 10 minutes. Start the timer and pray silently for 10 minutes. If you feel an urge to change body positions (Is God telling you to kneel? Sit Indian-style? Sit up straight in a chair with both feet on the floor?), then obey that urge. Breathe deeply several times to let go of any tension or anxiousness you might feel. Give the prayer time over to God and let him use it as he sees fit.

Point to Ponder # 4: Did you do # 3? Then set that timer again for 10 minutes, pick up your favorite pen and record what you remember about your prayer time. If that doesn’t fill up your 10 minutes, then ask God what else he would like you to write down to remember.

Friday’s Post: New Clothes

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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