I don't know when it began, or what to do with all of them. The notebooks, the journals of all sizes and shapes—many of them still empty, waiting for the right poem or the new theme, or my most brilliant thoughts. Some of the more unusual journals bought on travels are still waiting. Often I try to have a theme for a journal, so I begin more than one of them, while having an ongoing chronological journal. Meanwhile I use notebooks for a collection of ideas, thoughts and quotes.
Why do I encourage so many people to journal? Is there any benefit in writing down what we go through? A resounding Yes is my answer! I began journalling decades ago, when I was going through what I call the usual ups and downs of life; and even there I always felt the benefit of the process. Writing down thoughts brings clarity to whatever the situation may be. During my grief years, my journals became my lifeline, my prayer line, my place to recharge, my place to question any and everything. Those were the times it was necessary to write in order to make sense of what had gone so terribly wrong (write to right). As I reread my journals I see a woman expressing her longings, her laments while choosing to be grateful for the beauty of life. The historical value of journals is to look back and witness in your own handwriting the evidence of God's hand in it all. Most recently this has been vividly evident as I looked back at my 2016 journal while searching for ideas for this blog. A frequently used verse was from Isaiah 49 in The Message: The walls you're rebuilding are never out of my sight.
On January 1, 2016, my notes say:
A blank page
a new journal opens up before me ... what will be written on these pages?
It's a page turner to be sure
Life is an adventure—a sad one at times, disappointment at end of year brings a weariness to the new year.
I went on to express disappointment that I was not in a better place. A main discouragement was that I had been praying for several years for the possibility of a man in my life. And I was beginning to think that God had answered No, and that I would need to come to terms with it. On the blank page opposite my January first entry, I had later added that my daughter had prayed for me that perhaps this was the year. In June of 2016 I told two very dear friends that I thought I would remain alone for the rest of my life, and that I was actually okay with it. And then on June 10, I wrote “God, I think you're up to something.”
June 19, 2016 there was a profound upbeat tone as I wrote about having lunch with Harold, someone I had known for over 30 years ... someone I had worked with, someone who had also gone through some serious grief. That day I wrote in my journal: Is the something you are up to HB?
I chuckle at times when I see my gift of misinterpretation of scriptures. After this wonderful man and I had been communicating for a while, I had some doubts that were answered in a resounding way. In my journal I quoted Isaiah 43 The Message: Forget about what's happened, don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present, I'm abut to do something brand new. It's bursting out!! Don't you see it? No, I don't often see it, but I love it when verses jump out with what seems a personal message for me.
The gift of the journals is the documented evidence in my own handwriting of how God is working out the bigger plan in my life. And on a separate lovely note, on December 17, 2016 at my wedding to Harold, we used Isaiah's verses about rebuilding walls from chapter 49. The love affair continues :)