I have kept a journal for as long as I can remember. I would start one and write feverishly for a week or two (that’s about as long as my consistency lasted) and then it would dwindle down to every once in a while for a vomiting venting session between my pen and I.
The thing was, whenever I would go back and read what I wrote, my cheeks burned with embarrassment. I would rip the pages out and start over. But the same thing kept happening.
I threw a lot of garbage away. So I would quit journalling, but then I would start up again and the same cycle would continue. I would write nonsense about the weather and the weeds growing and doing the dishes and my angst with people and my insecurities and it would turn into another vomit/venting session. Time would pass and I would take a trip down memory lane and flush with embarrassment as I considered my words. I would either hide the evidence or rip the pages out and start again.
Until one day I started thinking: ‘Do I want my kids reading this garbage when I am dead?’ The answer was a resounding ‘no!’ I didn’t want my kids to just know about the ugliness in my heart. I wanted them to know how my garbage met Jesus and changed me for the better.
How could I turn my rambling journal thoughts about the messiness of my heart into an honest portrayal of a woman bent on living and loving and serving God while staying true about my struggles, but not staying in the struggle?
This became my quest.
I decided to be a ‘life-giver journaller’. I wasn’t sure what that looked like, but I wanted to be able to leave my journals as a life-giving gift to my lovelies after I died. So I bought a pretty journal because beauty inspires me. It was lavender pseudo-suede that I found on the end-cap of a discount store. I dated it and the blank page sat there, staring at me, mocking me, daring me to fall into the same ugly writing habit.
That blank page turned into a fledgling attempt at turning all my garbage and brokenness into an offering of praise. I would write verses that spoke to me and then an application for my life in my present season.
Yes, I wrote about the ugliness of my heart and the garbage would spill out, but this time I laid God’s word over my words and saw things through his lens. I said my truth and then I covered it with his Truth.
And for the first time, my words became life-giving.
I wrote as a gift to my kids, but I also wrote to myself.
Encouraging my heart. Examining my heart. Exercising my heart.
Now, when I take a walk down memory lane, I see remembrances of the evidence of God in my life. I see how he showed up in my ugliness and messiness and insecurities and emotional brokenness and brought healing and life. Through his word in my words.
I don’t hide my journals anymore. I have one on a bookshelf, a couple others are kept on a side table by my favorite chair. They are there for me to leaf through and be encouraged. The current one is with my bible and comes out each time I open God’s word.
I write about the nitty-gritty stuff of my heart and life. I also write about the joys and triumphs. I write quotes from books that affect my heart. But mostly I write those books to be a gift to my lovelies to give life to their hearts and for them to see into their flawed mama’s heart as she struggled along loving them well.
Proverbs 16:24: ‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’
How do you use your words to bring life? Is this an area you struggle in? If you are a journaller, do you have hidden journals that need to see the truth of God laid over them?
I have been pondering growth a lot lately. It is probably due to this conference I have been asked to participate in that has me thinking about soil and seeds and water and nutrients.
I watched my babies grow and celebrated each milestone and worried over each delayed milestone. In parenting I have felt the pressure that all children should be experiencing this or that by a certain age even though it is common knowledge that not one child is like the other and therefore have different rates of growth and achievement.
At times that’s been difficult to remember.
I am at a point in my parenting where I am, at times, anxiously waiting for the seeds that I planted into my kids’ hearts to take root and grow. When they were young I amended their heart’s soil by adding in the nutrients of unconditional love, which did what was best for them and not necessarily what they wanted.
I planted the seeds of kindness, selflessness, respect, responsibility, repentance, and forgiveness. I hopefully gave them the right tools to tend to the garden of their souls.
I watered it with gentle responses (at times not so gentle and thank God for their forgiving hearts). I watered it with showing them kindness and respect. I watered it with humbling apologizing for my own parenting failures. I water it with prayer.
Now I wait. I continue to plant those seeds, but now I wait.
I wait for God to give the growth. I can walk my kids through the steps of what selflessness looks like. Maybe it’s seeing trash on the floor and instead of walking by it, we go together to pick it up and throw it away. Or maybe it’s doing a sibling’s chore. And sometimes it’s walking with them through the repentance and forgiveness process for something they did wrong.
But I wait for God to cause those seeds to grow in their hearts. I cannot make them grow. I cannot force them grow. I want to though.
Especially when it’s hard to wait on God.
This is part of my rest. This is part of my desperation for God. It’s the waiting on him. It’s the stilling of my mind and soul and emotions to be still in his presence and whisper, ‘God? Here I am. I am a jumbled mess. But here I am.’ and then be quiet.
Being quiet in God’s presence takes practice. It takes discipline. It takes moments of failure to train our minds to be quiet. To be quiet of worry, but to be loud in pondering the nature of God:
The goodness of Him.
The love of God, the love so overwhelming that it drives out all fear.
The power of God that causes those seeds to grow.
You are a seed planter. Plant your seeds and wait on God to water them and grow them.