I was talking with a friend about writing. “It’s a craft,” she said, “something we have to practice and hone.” To me, writing is like breathing. I can’t live without it. It gives a voice to my story.
She knows I am an avid journaller and she’s been privy to many of the revelations I’ve received through journalling over the years. A few days after our talk, she texted and asked me about my thoughts on journalling, on sharing journal entries and more. What is to follow is a conversation between she and I; her questions, my response:
“Over the last 20+ years I’ve always had two journals. One was my happy God stops and reflections, the other was my heart journal where I didn’t hold much back. I didn’t want one to contaminate the other, sometimes I’ve discarded journals or quit them for that reason…obviously no one should read those ones. Yet after our talk about writing, I’m not so sure now. Is it wrong for me not to want my kids or anyone else to read my journals?”
I used to do that too, have more than one journal. It felt very disjointed to me as well. When I got serious about journalling, I wanted my life to flow and I wanted it to be real and true to myself, and to God. I needed ONE journal where I could spend my heart and tell my story. Now having said that, I do have an ugly journal – it’s my healing journal. I started it back in 2010 when I really began my healing journey. It has forgiveness letters, confession letters, letters to God, angry questions that are literally only between God and myself. I will burn that journal when it’s done. If I am done (gone) before that journal is done, I’ve ask Mr. Handsome to burn it. The purpose for that journal is to have a safe place where I can spend my deep, deep hurts and feelings that I can’t handle…that I don’t know what what to do with. I write in that journal quite rarely (less and less as I become more and more healthy). I don’t feel it represents my story, it’s an ongoing, personal discussion between God and I, and is meant for His eyes only. I do not go back and read that journal. EVER. … That brings me to something else about journalling, I often do go back and re-read my journals. It helps me to see the many ways and times when God was gentle with me, when He answered my prayers, when He spoke to me, when He just tenderly held me, and it helps me to be grateful for the journey.
I made a commitment to myself to be real, vulnerable, honest and raw in my journals – no shame – just me being right where I’m at! However, I don’t write things I might regret later. If Mr. Handsome and I just had a disagreement and I’m full of emotion, I do not write details. I will still be honest and say, “God you know my heart. You know the situation. You know I’m outright angry and slightly irrational! Give me a clear mind, a heart to seek truth and until I can be logical, put a gate over my lips.” I know God well enough to know that He cares not about the details of the disagreement, what He cares about is putting His finger on something within me that He wants to flush out, break apart, and heal. I can safely say this for every situation…
His eyes are always on the heart, not the circumstance!
In regard to your question about showing others (she knows that I save all of my journals and intend to gift them to my children when I’m gone)…I don’t typically write with the thought that anyone will read my journals – if I did, I could never be real, honest or vulnerable. I never began my journalling journey with the consideration that ANYONE would read my journals. It’s a thought that has grown as I have grown and as I’ve come to realize that I am a storyteller. I have a story to tell. There are things in my earlier journals that make me cringe – I’ll be embarrassed when my kids read them; very selfish and immature. But it was real. It was where I was at the time I wrote them. My kids (and grandkids, and great grandkids) could never appreciate the woman I am without knowing the woman I was. So here are my thoughts on leaving my journals to my kiddos: my journals are full of things that I cannot share now…they may be inappropriate for the age they are at or some other reasons. They are a part of me. They are my story. My faith journey. My legacy. My truth. They are a love story between me and God. I want my kids to keep getting to know me after I’m gone, the real me. I want them to see my struggles, my fears, my victories. I want them to know I’m not perfect. Faith is not easy. I want them to learn that they can make mistakes. They can cry. And scream. I do. I want them to fall in love with me (all over again and in a new way) through my journey – long after I’m gone. Stories are life. They are sacred. Words only dance when spoken and written. Otherwise they are nothing but suffocating restraint! Sometimes they stomp out. Sometimes they are mixed with blood. Sometimes they are light as a butterfly and extraordinarily beautiful…but what they are NOT (when written as a sacrifice to the King) is trapped alone in darkness.
Brene Brown says that vulnerability is the key to creativity! What does it mean to be vulnerable with the ones we love the most?
What does it mean to be vulnerable with God?
What’s your art?
What legacy do you want to leave behind?