Why You Should Journal in 2019
The beginning of a new year always gets me looking back. As I select goals to achieve (or at least try my darndest), I find myself reflecting on where I’ve been.
I love this process.
And the thing that makes it easy? Journals.
Discovering My Life Over Again
Since I was five or six, I’ve kept a diary (and starting in high school, a separate prayer journal). It’s not because I’m super disciplined; there have definitely been seasons when entries were sparse. It’s that for some reason I process life best by writing it down — the feelings, memories, fears, prayers.
One of my journaling traditions is not only listing goals for each new year, but also reading through entries from the last year.
Each time, I’m amazed.
Take this year. (I’m going to keep the details private since, you know, it’s my diary). During the last few days of 2018, I wrote about a resolution to a recent personal conflict.
A few days later I read through all my entries from 2018, per tradition. My diary entries were few and far between, and I was disappointed I hadn’t written more. Then I read through my prayer journal (remember, separate things for me). I discovered I’d written in my prayer journal much more often than my diary in 2018.
And I was shocked to find out how many of my prayers related to the resolution recorded in my latest diary entry.
A Hidden Significance
The conflict that had finally been resolved wasn’t short-lived, like I thought. It had been a prominent theme of 2018. A constant struggle, a constant prayer. Something I cried out to God about so many times, though I forgot just how many.
And then, at the end of the year, in my diary was the recorded resolution, though at the time I wrote it down, I didn’t see its significance.
Re-reading through everything in one sitting, the significance became so clear. In 2018, doubt and despair regarding this topic turned into hope and joy!
I never would have been able to literally see that progress if I hadn’t written it down. I would never have realized the magnitude of God bringing that resolution about if I hadn’t recorded, then re-read my struggles.
God Tells Us to Remember
There are multiple verses in Scripture that are about remembering what God has done, which tells me that it must be pretty important.
As I can testify from a lifetime of writing stuff down, it makes a difference.
When I look back on every year by reading my diary and prayer journal entries, I am so much more thankful and in awe of God’s consistent movement in my life. I see answers to prayers I had forgotten I ever prayed. I see overarching themes connecting events and inner struggles that seemed random at the time. It’s like getting the chance to zoom out of your own life and examine it from above.
You Can Do This, Too
To anyone reading this, I’m challenging you to journal, too. If you already keep a diary or prayer journal, continue doing it in 2019, no matter how hectic life gets!
There are lots of ways to do this, even if you don’t like to write. Here are just a few ideas:
Buy an actual journal. Maybe you’re like me and love going to the book store to select a beautifully-bound book of lined pages that looks, feels and smells just right. If so, treat yo’ self! Get a diary that reflects the vibe you want to bring into 2019 — something lovely (or masculine) that makes you want to write in it. (Don’t forget the perfect pen!)
Use your phone or computer. Pen on paper not your thing? Type your reflections into a note or document on your smartphone or laptop. Sometimes I do this when I don’t have time to physically write in my journals. The plus side of using my iPhone notes app is that I can easily include pictures, if one correlates with what I’m writing.
Use social media. I’ve seen people openly declare that they’re using a certain Instagram account as a type of journal to record personal memories, daily reflections, accountability posts, etc. I recommend getting real particular about your privacy settings and followers if you do this (because the point of journaling is having the freedom to be 100% honest and real), but if it’s the easiest way for you to “journal,” go for it.
A “Blessing Jar.” I’m stealing this idea from my mom, who posted on Facebook recently: “We are about to read through our blessing jar from this past year, and as we do, like every year we realize there were so many blessings along the way that were forgotten.” If you’re a busy person who is definitely not the journaling type, this idea is for you. Set out a jar, pen, and stack of sticky notes somewhere you’ll see it every day. Every time you experience a blessing (or anything you want to remember, for that matter), write one sentence about it and put it in the jar. Both your recording process and year-end read-through will be quick, but you’ll still have the benefit of remembering what God has done for you.
So keep a diary, a jar, an Instagram account — whatever makes it easy to record honest things about your life on a regular basis. Come December when you take a bit of time to look back over everything, you’ll gain so much.
Photo: A snapshot of many of my journals from years past!