During lunch the other day a friend asked me about the process of journaling and the benefits of writing. Today, I was thinking about our conversation and how it reminded me about the “why” of putting your life stories on paper (or a weblog).
I enjoy journaling and have been doing it since 1994. It’s not for everyone because God did not wire everybody that way. It’s “a” way of maturing you in your sanctification but it’s not “the” way, and therein lies the distinction: what works for me may not work for you.
Be free, my friend, to explore these secondary matters that mature you in Christ. Whatever those ways are, after you find them, they will change your life.
The reward of writing is restorative to my soul (Psalm 23:3). The process of taking “wild words” and thoughts that swirl around my brain and bringing them through the arm, into the hand, out the pen, and onto the paper is not a natural discipline.
But with practice, the words you put on paper are no longer “wild words” but sentences refined by the Spirit’s illumination. This refining process streamlines your thoughts while casting off the excess. You have succinct words and phrases from the “muse chamber” that communicates with clarity what you want to say.
This sharpening process not only stimulates the mind but it trains your brain to think in “brief and amazing” ways, as long as you continue the mental subjugation to the Spirit’s tinkering of the noodle.
I was sitting in a family reunion in 1994 with Lucia. The patriarch for one of the family lines was reading a journal excerpt from a Civil War relative. He was either a prisoner of war or a guard. Knowing my family, I’m sure he was in jail, but that’s another story.
As I listened to that old patriarch read that short journal entry, I thought how satisfying it would be to have a journal from my daddy. All I remember from him were the beatings, verbal abuse, forced back rubs, smelly beer breath, and slumped over TV watching.
To know another side of him would be something special, as I reflect back on his life from my old age. And it was there, in that reunion, when I made a promise to start writing so my children would have my life stories.
There are stacks upon stacks of journals in our attic for my children. I told them that they couldn’t read them while I’m alive. There may or may not be a few curse words in them.
Writing In the Raw
I write raw. I want my kids to know the real me, not my representative; that person we trot out in the public domain, hoping others will find him more appealing to the real thing. After I’m dead, I won’t care that they get the inside scoop on my most internal thoughts.
Raw writing is what I like the most about the Bible. God does not hold back. There is too much at stake. And it’s encouraging to know David was not a perfect man, as well as all the other folks who stumbled through the Bible.
God gives us His characters in His story just as they were, and that is how I want to live my life. I’m not asking you to like me or even accept me, but at least you will know me, not my representative who wraps himself in fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).
It’s For the Children
Most folks don’t know why I started writing, first in journals and later in cyberspace, but this weblog and my ministry website are for my children first of all. On this site, I collect stories about our family and other things, so they will know “what daddy thinks about this and that.” On our ministry website, I gather other thoughts that deal specifically with personal and relational sanctification.
I want our children to know what daddy thinks about “life and godliness.” Now you know why I write. Not knowing when the Lord may decide to bring me home, I want my children to know me, the good and the not so good.
What I did not know in 1994 is that I would be journaling for 2.5 decades (and counting) and that it would turn into a vocation.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9