Written by: Jennifer Mahar
My love for writing is a direct product of my love for reading. Opening a book and escaping reality, being totally immersed in another world – it all captivated me at a young age. And writing sprung from that fascination, escaping into a world of my own creation.
Journalling is even better. It allows me to pour out the broken, the shame, the joy, and the gratitude so that I can appreciate the life God has provided, a life that I no longer want to escape.
But writing can be intimidating. Your thoughts, your heart, your soul – written down on paper, exposed. Fear can stand in our way when it comes to this form of communication with God. It is challenging to pour out our burdens, sorrows, brokenness, and sometimes, even our joy onto a piece of paper.
We need to get of our own heads to really let God in. Journaling allows us to do that.
Start small. There are many journalling exercises to assist in this process (really, Google is full of them). In my experience, a stream of consciousness technique can help unlock your mind to the words God has ready to pour out of you. This exercise was introduced to me in high school by my English teacher. He set a five-minute timer, and told us to write without interruption, everything and anything that came to mind. To this day, I still find joy in this process: dumping my brain onto the paper and letting it all out.
Simply recording the events of the day is also a great exercise. It is amazing to look back and read about what God has done in your life, especially when we are walking through trials and tribulations.
In the movie Love Actually, Hugh Grant opens with a monologue opposing the general consensus that the world is full of hate and greed. He says: “often, [love’s] not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there…” he continues on, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
We live in this world…the one that so many believe to be full of hate, greed, and negativity. But we were created to be the light in that darkness, and in order to shine, we have to be able to see God’s love working in our life. Without documenting those miraculous, and sometimes small, moments, we can easily forget they ever existed. Writing not only helps you retain information, but also gives you a written record to refer to.
For me, I can look back and read about when God literally slapped me in the face with the refridgerator door upon reaching for a diet coke, when I told Him I did not need to fast from soda. Or the time I flipped open my calendar to read Hebrews 12:1; and later that day, Hebrews 12:1 was emailed to me. Then the following day, I was walking up a flight of stairs, and I happened to look down, and there was a plaque with Hebrews 12:1 on it… God did that.
Those seemingly insignificant, ordinary occurrences surround us on a daily basis and they are evidence of God’s relentless pursuit and love. If we look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling we will find that God actually is all around.
God loves when we are able to recognize His pursuit, and journaling helps us to recognize, retain, and share the good news of the gospel of with others. It strengthens our relationship with the Lord and helps us to easily identify Him working in our hearts and our lives. This in turn makes us that much more driven to share the news for the good of God’s kingdom.
Take 10 minutes to write. Go somewhere you will be left alone, turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” set a timer for 10 minutes, and write. Do not stop, write whatever comes to mind no matter what it is – worry, questions, praise, excitement, anger, frustration…whatever pops into your brain.
This week, set aside time to write to connect with God. Come to the Lord in prayer, read His word, and then write. Whatever that looks like to you, if it means following a study guide or a reading plan. If it means copying a verse ten times before He reveals to you His message. Write about the events of your day. Share with our community how it went.
How did it feel? Did you feel differently about your time spent with the Lord. (This will take some time so allow yourself an extra 30 minutes.)
What is most effective for me may not be what works best for others. I would encourage you to also try different exercises and find what works best for you in this season of your life.