Recording the Journey

I've journaled my whole life.

When I was just an elementary schooler, I had a spiral bound square journal that allowed you to circle a face reflecting your mood and gave you room to write about your day. In those days, I just wrote when big, new things were happening- my first trip to an overnight camp, or changing grades, or moving. Well, "big" and "new" to a third grader, anyway.

When I got into junior high, everything was big and new, it seemed, and feelings about the changes were more intense than ever (Also: hormones.) I started journaling pretty much every day- about my friendships, school, church, prayer concerns, family, everything. This continued more or less daily through much of high school. Writing was therapy, and allowed this introvert to process her feelings in the midst of adolescence. Journaling is a discipline I needed.

Toward the end of high school and into college, I reverted back to only writing when big, new events happened. Often this was as semesters or school years ended, and I was reflecting on all that had happened over the last few months. At some point, I started this blog, and some (but not all) of my journaling showed up here.

Since being out of college and being married, my paper-and-pen journaling has been nonexistent. I think this is partly because of my blogging here, but mostly because I've now got a trusted soulmate who I can talk to in order to process my feelings, rather than just my trusted journal. But, somtimes, I miss writing.

Last Saturday, I attended a journaling workshop put on by the women's ministry at my church. I was a bit apprehensive, as I'm not really a 'women's ministry' kind of gal, and the lacy, flower-y stuff doesn't really appeal to me. Also, I'll admit, large groups of girls scare me. But, I signed up. And even showed up, and brought a friend. Thankfully, there were no souvenirs resembling wedding favors, just a book by the speaker and a couple CDs by Sarah Scharbrough. So far, so good.

The workshop was led by author Mindy Caliguire, founder of SoulCare. She talked about a lot of good reasons to journal, and ways to think through your day and spiritual life to process what you're learning. Two small nuggets that she shared have stuck with me, and helped me process why I journal, and why it's been important to me for so long.

The first is- who journals? What professions have journals? Scientists and explorers. Why do they journal? Because, as they discover new things, they want to record their discoveries. She said a professor one told her, "The weakest pencil is mightier than the strongest memory". So, why do I journal? I thought about journaling over my life, and realized I mostly wrote when I was experiencing new things- "breaking new ground" or "making new discoveries" about life, or moving into uncharted territory, literally or figuratively. What can I say, I'm a scientist at heart.

The second, related nugget was- where does the word 'journal' come from? Just like 'journey' and 'soup du jour' - it comes from a root meaning 'day'. I like to think of my collected journals as chronicling my days, and my journey- the distance I travel in a day.

From the workshop's ideas, I'm slowly starting to get back into journaling. Will it be every day? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps when I'm in a stage of life where more is changing every day, I'll feel the need to journal more. Right now, I still want to start the discipline at least periodically, to reflect on what I'm learning and how God's working in my life. The women's ministry blog has started a series on journaling, too, beginning with Lectio Divina.

My journaling probably won't show up here- there's too much I need to process internally before making it public in a nicely wrapped "story" to tell you guys. I'll save the half-stories, boring stories, and random ramblings for my own paper journal.

What's been your experience with journaling?


Karen Sue said...

Find that my big FAMILY TIME spiral calendar is the closest to journaling, along with my blog, these days.

Joanna said...

Karen- I was just this week discussing with a friend how our blogs have become chronicles of our lives. We can look back and see what we were doing this time last year, or five years ago. It's a really neat timeline, for sure, even if it's not our deepest thoughts.

Lisa said...

Some memories you don't want to go back to.

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ashley said...

Last year, our church had a women's retreat where Mindy Caliguire was the speaker. I'd read one of her books on Soul Friends, and I thought she was excellent. I really, really enjoyed her talks. I want to read the rest of her books too.


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