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Write This Down

For years before I got serious about my healing journey, I knew I needed to start journaling. I could feel the prompting in my spirit, and time and time again, I put that prompting aside, avoiding the time, the commitment, and the emotional energy that went into such a thing. But as I began to dive into the issues of my past and present, it was no surprise that the very first thing my counselor asked me to do was begin a journal.

I remember that first entry well – not what it says, for that hard drive crashed a while ago, but the emotional and spiritual events that surrounded it. I sat down in my living room on a night when there was no one else in the house, and simply began to write everything on my heart to God. This being my first time journaling, I had quite a bit to get out and typed over 7 pages to God about my day, my thoughts, my feelings, my struggles, other people (not to be redundant with my struggles). And when I finally got everything out of my system – when I said all that I had to say – then I was finally ready to listen.

That’s one of the biggest things journaling helps me to do. It gets my thoughts out of me. It takes what was just an idea and makes it a concrete expression that I can identify and describe, and it helps me to step back and see myself and my circumstances from another view (as I read my words back to myself). I feel that when I write something, just like when I speak it out loud, it is released and maybe even created – no longer bottled up inside my head to stir and fester like a concealed wound.

Journaling is also one of the ways I converse with God, and perhaps it’s one of the better ways, because it helps me organize my thoughts and track God’s responses. Writing God’s response has always been an important part of my journaling. There’s usually at least some response I can write down instantly – many of my journal entries look like conversations, with God’s and my questions, thoughts, and responses written in sequence – but sometimes I have to come back months or even years later to realize God’s response to some of my pondering and questions.

And I remember this first time, when I finished writing – when I got everything out that I wanted to say – when I finally started listening for God’s response, I couldn’t understand a thing He was saying!

I knew God was speaking. I could sense it. But I couldn’t understand Him. You see, God had always spoken to me in a way that I could describe in words (or if they weren’t words directly, I could at least translate the feeling or prompting I felt). And now I knew He was speaking, but I couldn’t understand Him. Somewhat daringly, I replied to Him, saying sarcastically “Now c’mon God, use your words,” as one might say to a two-year-old who hasn’t yet replaced her cries and grunts with the words she knows how to say. Thankfully, God doesn’t get offended too easily, and thankfully He has a good sense of humor.

Then God showed me something that opened my eyes to a new way of encountering Him. He showed me the account of creation, how whenever He spoke, something new came into existence. When He opened His mouth, there weren’t actual words that came forth (for who would have heard them), but it was life itself that came from His lips. And so now, having postured myself to listen, God began to speak to me in a new way – not with words, but with life itself, and I began to feel things come alive in me that had been dead for a long time – perhaps even things that had never been there at all. For the next several hours, God continued to speak to me like that, all as a result of being faithful to His prompting of me to journal.

If it’s one paragraph or if it’s twelve pages, start journaling today. Use it as a way to express your thoughts and feelings that find no other healthy expression. Use it to talk to God. Use it to record His responses, and refer to it often to encourage yourself and remind yourself of what God has spoken over you. And keep yourself open to new ways of encountering God as you journal – He may surprise you!

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