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Journaling

November 1, 2016Articles

I have valued journaling as a spiritual discipline since the early 80’s, shortly after coming to faith in Jesus. I was a “gutter rescue” in The Father’s house and the process of sanctification and healing was written up in my daily journal. It was a messy process but the Holy Spirit used this practice to create in me an awareness of my inner life (seriously messy!) and to keep a record of the process of Him shoveling out the garbage and uncovering the treasure.

For this reason, one of the “pillars” of the 40 day LIGHTEN UP journey – in fact, TIGHTEN UP and even BRIGHTEN UP too – remains, keeping a record of your 40 day experience.

It’s a practice that creates mindfulness.  It has been used to stir gratitude – remember Ann Voskamp (http://onethousandgifts.com/a-letter-from-ann) who dared thousands to live FULLY, right where we were.  Arthur Burk, John Piper and Sam Storm (http://www.samstorms.com) , were all used in my journey to confirmed and give explanation to a deep conviction that all men are created by God with a JOY BASE.  The capacity for joy and the desire to find joy is written onto every human heart!  Life, sin and wounds can damage that inner JOY BASE CAMP to such an extent that it will take quite something to find it again, to clean it up and to then service and maybe even extend it!  Thankfully, God is not afraid of messy and is committed to the restoring all His vandalized works of art!

his-workmanshipA Jesuit of the 1500’s, Ignatius Loyola (another messy life!) taught a discipline called EXAMEN.  It involved 4 basic steps in reviewing your day with God and then praying forward into the next day. Reading about it reminded me of the dinner-table tradition in our home called High’s and Low’s.  At dinner each evening, every member of the family had to share their best moment and their worst. It was an opportunity for connection, compassion, celebration and certainly discipleship.

There’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal, it just needs to work for you.  I’ve always favoured the old fashioned, write it down in longhand kind of way. The slowness of the process is valuable to me.  It helps me uncover my thinking, but recently I have been using a brand new method called DAY ONE.  It’s not new – been around since 2011, but I’ve been testing it as another option to those who value the whole idea of journaling but find themselves unable to consistently practice it.
It’s an app on my phone.  I’m able to celebrate WONDER by putting in a picture of my highlight. The immediacy of the entry is nice for me.  A song, a “key” SMS – all these I can enter immediately.  In the evenings I can savour, review and prayerfully process my day. My appointment book or diary and my journal have always been one book, because my everyday life is the matrix through which God’s kingdom either comes or doesn’t. This app lets me enter appointments in the future and edit past entries as needed. And storage is so much simpler. You might want to take a look. http://dayoneapp.com/

One of the things I discerned directly from journaling, was some of the nuances in my relationship with TIME.  One of the early patterns I found was the nightmares that occurred only at full moon.  With no real understanding I was still able to sever myself from whatever caused that destructive pattern. Those who attended our CHRONOS and KAIROS retreat will have done similar work on their timelines.

Finally I want to say that I know many people who live deliberately, who represent Jesus very well in this life and who do not journal. As with most spiritual disciplines – they have no value in and of themselves unless they position us before God more receptively.

To those who criticize the practice, I remind you that the scriptures on which we base our salvation came through about 40 “journallers” or scribes, who left us our sacred foundation.

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