20 Reasons Why I Keep a Journal

by Marsha Crockett

More than any other discipline throughout my adult life, journal keeping has most nurtured my spirit, opened my mind and heart to God and allowed me to grow in my faith. Maybe that’s why I appreciate that the words journal and journey both have the same root word meaning “a place of progress”.

However, my journal is not so much where I record my progress. Rather the act of writing itself often unveils my thoughts and takes me along to the next step, as I progress in my understanding, in letting go, in embracing something new or something old, forgiving someone or contending for my faith in some way.

In fact, experiencing this journey through journaling is much more of an inward passage. Meister Eckhart said it best as he explained that “the journey is not so much long, maybe a quarter inch, but it is miles deep.”

In practical terms, I’m often asked, “Why journal?” Here are 20 reasons I came up with that probably just scratch the surface. Journal keeping helps me to:

* Clear my mind
* Stimulate thought
* Quiet my spirit
* Develop self-awareness
* Create a safe place to release emotion
* Awaken a sense of the sacred
* Grow spiritually
* Brainstorm new ideas
* Practice creativity
* Meditate on scripture
* Capture my story
* Leave a legacy of faith
* Express what I can’t say otherwise

* Explore memories
* Manage my time
* Clarify what I believe
* Set meaningful goals
* Gain perspective
* Capture my dreams and daydreams
* Discern the will of God and choices I can make

Looking over that list, I realize that this is often where we begin to rub up against resistance to journaling… Too much introspection…Or maybe it feels too self-centered. But journal keeping isn’t an exercise in self-improvement to bring about change. Rather it is the invitation to be changed by the hand of the good and gracious God dwelling within us. It is an act of prayer.

Like any other discipline of body, mind or spirit, journaling requires a certain commitment before it becomes a welcome place of retreat. Here are three key commitments I use to exploring the inner life, whether through journaling or any other discipline:

1. A covenant of time…set aside, scheduled time, on the calendar, maybe even accountable to others.
2. A covenant of place …a set apart place where I stop, get comfortable, without distraction and tend the present moment with God.
3. A covenant of silence … where I learn to listen and let go of the constant flow of information to embrace the quiet formation of my life by the hand of God.

If journaling is something you have wanted to do but just haven’t found the ways or the time to sink into it, I invite you to join me on four Tuesday evenings in July at the Pathways of Grace Center to explore the possibilities of deepening your inner journey. Click here to register for the Midsummer Night’s Journey: Exploring the Inner Life through Journaling