Journaling tends to be one of those spiritual disciplines you either love or hate.
No matter which category you’re in, you've probably tried journaling at one time in your life. Maybe you’re like me and you really want to journal. You may even go to the store and buy a new one to help motivate you to start. But then you let 3 or 4 months go by before ever touching it again.
But maybe you don’t journal because you just don’t know how much it can enrich your life.
Knowing the outcome of doing something difficult can often make doing that task easier. It at least makes you feel like it will be worth it, so you are more likely to stick with it until the end. So with that in mind, here are 5 benefits you can expect from keeping a journal.
1. Journaling Lets You See Your Spiritual Growth
Unlike the other spiritual disciplines, journaling allows you to literally see your spiritual growth take place. As you record your thoughts and feelings over time, you can see how you have learned to trust God more and more. You can see your own maturity taking place by looking back over things you’ve written. You realize how much you have grown and you will desire to keep growing.
2. Journaling Provides a Record of What You’ve Been Through
When you're in the middle of life's storms, it's hard to know where God is during the turmoil. We don’t understand why we are having to suffer so much. Journaling gives us a record to look back at past experiences and see how God worked in those situation to bring us through them.
This helps us build our faith to trust God in the midst of the storm we are currently facing. While we don’t feel close to God when we are going through life's valleys, journaling lets us see that God was with us the entire time.
3. Journaling Promotes Mindfulness of the Lord
Mindfulness is about being aware of what's going on around you. Journaling creates awareness of what God is doing in and through your life. Instead of just going through the motions of the day, you begin to notice opportunities in your life to witness to others. You recognize how much more you could be doing to serve others. You take the time to appreciate the blessings God has given you. Journaling can help align what you think and feel with the what God is speaking to you through his Word and Spirit.
4. Journaling Provides a Safe Place to Explore Your Thoughts and Feelings
This is perhaps the most obvious benefit on this list. You probably think “private” and “personal” when you hear the word “journal” or “diary.” But this is the reason you are probably taking this benefit for granted and overlooking one of the greatest escapes from our modern culture.
We live in a social media culture where we are bombarded all day long with other people’s thoughts. While social media can have some wonderful benefits for connecting people and exchanging ideas, it can be a place that drains you of energy and leaves you frustrated with humanity.
The problem with social media is that someone always has an opinion about your opinion. Journaling gives you a safe place to express your thoughts without someone jumping down your throat. It's a place to explore your inner feelings and form opinions before you take them to the public. This helps you provide even more value to those you engage with on social media because you too will be slower to react harshly and will be more likely to respond in a beneficial way.
5. Journaling Allows You to Let Go of the Day
Have you ever lied awake at night staring at the ceiling because your mind wouldn’t stop racing? You couldn’t go to sleep because you were too busy worrying about all the stuff you didn’t get done that day and all the things you have to do the next. Journaling provides an outlet to let all of that stuff go. Something incredible happens when we write our doubts, fears, and worries down on paper.
- We let go of them. We get them outside of our own heads by putting them down on paper. This little act allows us to put our problems into perspective. Our problems seem much bigger when we keep them in our heads. Journaling them clears our minds so that we can get better sleep and not worry about all the stuff we have to do.
- We see that our worries were not as scary as we thought they were. When we are honest with ourselves and admit what is really bothering us, we immediately look at what we wrote and begin to realize the solution to our problems. The truth is, most of what we worry about is out of our control anyway. By simply expressing ourselves, we take control of the situation so our worries don’t control us.
Journaling is Great, But It’s Still Hard
Everyone who journals boasts about the amazing benefits it’s had on their lives. This is true for both Christians and non-christian. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We call it a spiritual discipline for a reason. There are ways, however, to make journaling easier.
One of the best ways to alleviate the pain of journaling is by using journal prompts. Journal prompts are short questions or statements that you can respond to. They stimulate and direct your thinking so you don’t have to spend time staring at a blank page struggling with what to write. You don’t have to write a lot to get the benefits of journaling. Just start by writing a sentence or two each day and see how journaling can benefit your Christian walk.