Friday, June 6, 2014

Dear Diary

I have a couple notebooks full of journals and records I kept during the years I was single fathering. Although many entries are filled with immature and embarrassing, emotion-laden raging, I found it helpful to look back and see how God had answered prayers. You may not be a journaling type of guy, but I recommend giving it a try for just five minutes each day. If not as a spiritual discipline during this season, then do it at least so you have a record of your thoughts that your kids can read someday when you have left this earth. It will be precious to them. 
Beginning this splendid habit can be daunting, I know. All those blank, white pages are staring at you. You’re wondering if it’s really safe to put your thoughts or prayers in print.
I don't recommend using your computer. It’s too easy in the heat of the moment to cut and post things you think others need to read. Much harder to do so using a real pen on a page. It’s also too easy for you to return to the entry and edit it, erasing all the rawness of the moment. Try some of the following exercises to help get you started.
1.              Make the first entry an introduction. Explain why you want to journal and what you hope to gain.
2.              Switch it up. Some days you might feel like just writing to yourself. Other days you might write to God. Still other days you might make an entry to your child. There’s no rule for how you share these thoughts. Nobody ever has to read them. It’s more about getting those thoughts out of your head and on paper for your own growth. Doing this can also release that pressure valve of sadness or anger.
3.              Just write. It might come out mundane at first, but at least you’re making the ink flow. The more you write the more thoughts will begin flowing as well. If you can’t get past your writer’s block, write about your job, your spiritual journey, your childhood, the book you’re reading, today’s top news story, or even your death. What makes you irritable, happy, scared, calm, or desperate? The easiest entry for me is to ask myself, “What is God showing me today?” Any topic works as long as you’re writing regularly.
4.              Pour out your heart to God. You don't have to write down private thoughts and prayers. Especially if you’re afraid your entries may get into the wrong hands. If you’re not comfortable being frank, then don’t be. You’re not a wimp if you decide to omit confessions of porn addictions or daydreams of your ex-wife’s accidental death. Just write what you’re comfortable writing.
5.              Include your frustrations or victories specifically related to the divorce and your kids. These will be valuable to you one day as you review how God sustained you through it all. Those early entries will be a springboard for your future journals. Hindsight is a beautiful gift.

6.              After about ninety days, go back and read some of your entries. Additionally, review what you wrote in the interactive portions at the end of each chapter of this book. Even those responses you entered are a type of journaling. How have things changed? Reflect on what the Lord has shown you. Write it down.
What about you? Does the thought of journaling overwhelm you? Why?