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I remember telling a friend that the secret to writing in a journal is to believe up front that the journal and the words therein will end up in the trash can. This thinking helps eliminate the fears and disappointment that whatever is written will ultimately be imperfect and wreck the seeming perfection of the empty pages.

Journaling, writing but not necessarily for a reader, has undoubtedly been a tool God used and continues to use in changing me. Growing me. Sanctifying me.

In my experience, there is a big difference between communicating with another person and “thinking out loud” with a pen in hand. After all, journaling is not intended for you (a reader) to read. I can freely think because I can shut the words in the dark. I can close the journal cover and toss it when I’ve moved on.

How to Start Writing

I can only tell you how I started writing. Sadly, I have been stuck on this very question of how to start writing for longer than I would like to admit.

My writing begins with a feeling. Sometimes the feeling is an obvious discouragement and other times the feeling is a passionate urgency. Many times, the feeling hardly even exists, but I sit down and use my concerns as the starting point to begin thinking in writing on paper.

This process gives meaning to the feeling. I am not usually aware of the thoughts in my mind and heart that produce the feeling before I write. But as I read what comes out, I see what is there. The process of writing in a journal begins to expose my heart.

Becoming Self-Aware

It is amazing to me how many times I will read the content of my journals and completely disagree with the ideas that flow from my heart. For instance, in my latest entry, I hastily concluded that the words I had written in purple ink (the entire first page and a half) made the journal less than what it was when it sat perfectly on the shelves of the Cracker Barrel store.

Is that even true?

If you’re like me, it doesn’t take long to become fed up with the garbage in a used journal and simply trash it. Or better yet, recycle it. I have thrown away so many used journals because I felt I was no longer the same as when I began the journal.

If only I had saved them along the way…except so much of the content was nothing more than confusion and desperation, not helpful for anything except to satisfy my curiosity now.

Why Keep Going?

There are a couple of reasons why I keep on journaling. First, journaling helps me communicate. There comes a point when I grow tired of trying to craft the right sentences and phraseology for effective communication, whether that communication is an in-person conversation over coffee or simply writing a blog post.

My brain has trouble with communication but not so much trouble with thinking. I don’t think it’s in my head. Recently, I connected with the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, hoping they might be able to study my brain and help me. Maybe they will. This brings me to the second reason I keep on journaling.

It’s a way to track my life because I believe God is faithful to sanctify those who trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, and I want to see the evidence of this more and more. I don’t want to miss the miraculous ways God saves because I am preoccupied with something else.

I also keep on journaling because I keep learning what is inside my head and heart.

Why each feeling?
Where does each one lead?
How do I resolve the dissonance where they conflict?

With all this focus on emotion, I wonder about emotional intelligence (EQ) and the future of Powerfully Healthy, what I have called the Christian version of posttraumatic growth (PTG).