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SPIRITUAL LIFE

The Story of Me Keeping a journal helps us reflect on our relationship with God BY MAJOR SHEILA DAVISSON

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few years ago, my daughter gave me a thoughtful Christmas gift, a book called 100 Journeys for the Spirit. On each page, there was a photo of a sacred place—ancient trees and beautiful waterfalls, churches and temples. And on each page, she attached a personal note with a Scripture reference, quote or question to ponder. This gift spoke to me in the giving, but also as I explored the places in the pages and wrote about them. Even though I do not consider myself a writer, I have kept a journal for more than 35 years. Writing down my thoughts and prayers helps me move through the day with fewer burdens and stay focused as I think about others. It helps me connect with God and has deepened my faith. Sometimes I go back and reread entries, and have been pleasantly surprised by the scribblings. They have made me laugh and cry and encouraged me on my faith journey all over again—a double blessing. Author M. Robert Mulholland Jr. defines spiritual formation as “a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” This process of transformation becomes visible as we keep a journal—it is a tangible way to see how God is working in our lives over time. In Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Calhoun writes, “Journaling is a tool for reflecting on God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings.” If you have never considered keeping a journal as a spiritual discipline, I encourage you to give it a try. It can take many forms, so experiment and

“Journaling is a tool for reflecting on God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings” find what works for you. Here are some suggestions as you begin. Start small. Don’t try to go from zero to 60. Be modest in your plans for frequency and length of entries. Start with a goal you can build on, rather than so lofty you fail within the week. Try writing something short, even one sentence, during your devotions. Make it yours. Write out poems, prayers or Scripture verses. Draw or doodle. Collect magazine clippings. Or try an online journal program—I like Penzu. Some keep a journal for a loved one. I know one grandmother who is reading through the Bible with her grandchild in mind, highlighting verses and scribbling prayers and thoughts in the margins. Don’t worry about catching up. Keeping a journal is less about recording your day’s activities and more about creating a rhythm for connecting with yourself and God. It’s OK if there are gaps between entries—sometimes those gaps can speak to you. Stay with it. Even when you keep it simple, there will be days when your motivation is low. This is a normal part of forming a new habit. Pray and ask

for “the strength God provides” (1 Peter 4:11), remembering “all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29). Often the hardest part is opening your journal and starting a new page. Journal with purpose. Keeping a journal could be writing your story of “exodus.” It could be where you reflect on your joys and disappointments. Bring everything you write to God and allow him to speak into your life. When you keep God at the centre of this practice, it becomes a spiritual discipline. A journal is a record of your relationship with God, an opportunity to grow in faith as you see how he has guided you and answered prayer. Let your mind and heart be transformed as you find your story in his story. For Further Reading: • Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation, by M. Robert Mulholland Jr. • Journaling with Jesus: How to Revolutionize Your Devotional Life Through Journaling, by Laurie Snyman Major Sheila Davisson is a training officer at the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg. Salvationist  November 2015  17

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A journal is a place where we give expression to the fountain of our heart, where we can unreservedly pour out our passion before the Lord. —Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life


Salvationist - November 2015