In her book Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg writes, "I begin these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my individual balance of life, work, and human relationships. And since I think best with a pencil in my hand, I started to write…" She describes the spiritual discipline of journaling. Many Christians have found journaling to be extremely important to spiritual growth and development. The practice has become one of the most significant disciplines in my ongoing spiritual development.
What is journaling?
Journaling is not the mere recording of facts about the day’s events. It is more than keeping a log or diary. Rather, journaling involves reflection and contemplation. In some quarters, journaling has become popular because of the human potential movement which spawned such efforts as Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journaling Workshops. Progoff was a New York psychotherapist who had studied under Freud’s former colleague, C.G. Jung. He concluded that old methods of individual psychotherapy were not adequate and began working with groups. He asked each participant to keep a journal and discovered that the participants were far more honest in their journals than in what they articulated in therapy. Consequently he began to experiment using the journal as a way to probe the inner life.
Journaling as a spiritual discipline involves the contemplation of life in light of the spiritual center. For Christians, that spiritual center is probably best expressed in that ancient and profound creedal statement, "Jesus is Lord."
Perhaps someone has just returned from the hospital, having visited her father after a heart attack. Later, that same person might reflect through journaling upon her own mortality, fear of death, and hope of a life beyond death. For another, the day at work might have once again been stressful. That person might reflect in a journal upon the place of Jesus Christ in a tension filled work environment in which the values being expressed are so unlike those of the Teacher. To live with Christ as the spiritual center suggests not only that life is fragmented but that all of life is ruled by the teaching and values of the one at the center.
Morton Kelsey has observed that if one had been invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace, it would seem very natural to write out a record of the visit. Perhaps few of us will ever have such an experience. We have, however, been invited into the presence of the holy, majestic God who seeks relationship with us. Perhaps, there is a place for reflecting on such encounters through writing about them whether in a journal, spiral notebook, or on a blog.
I am not trying to suggest that if you are not journaling that something is lacking. I do want to suggest that this practice might be very helpful as a spiritual discipline in your relationship with God.