The Your Stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…
My mother gave me my first writing journal on my 26th birthday. It was a thick notebook that displayed magnificent angels of all types on the front. As beautiful as it was, I can’t say at the time that I really knew what to do with it. I have never considered myself much of a writer, and by nature I am not one who feels the need to write poetry, songs, or my emotions down on paper. I don’t even verbally express my feelings much, so writing them down on paper was going to be a stretch. My mom had been in the practice of journaling, and she expressed to me how it had helped her see the areas in which God was at work in her life. She encouraged me to write down both the good and bad, just like I was having a conversation with Jesus.
My initial entries were quite brief and perhaps a little shallow, but with each and every day that I journaled, my intimacy with Jesus became deeper and more meaningful than I ever could have imagined. Writing in the pages of that journal became a place where I could see the faithfulness and fulfillment of God’s promises throughout the story of my life.
The first time I realized the life-changing benefits of journaling was shortly after receiving that 26th birthday gift. My wedding engagement was crumbling, and I was spiraling out of control in a mess of pain, fear, insecurity, resentfulness, and most of all, hopelessness. I found myself crying out to Jesus with everything I was experiencing, and I desperately needed to hear His voice in a whole new way. It was a very dark and painful time, but Jesus was there to heal each and every space in my broken heart. Pages and pages of my journal were filled with WHY and HOW questions. Did I not hear His voice clearly? I had thought this was in His plan for my life. Anger rose up in me and in one moment I was lashing out at Jesus, and the next moment I was thanking Him for delivering me from an uncertain marriage. When the smoke cleared, I was left with a broken engagement and a journal full of pages that documented the rebuilding of my self-esteem and self-worth. As a result, I became determined not to settle for anything less than what God’s plan was for my life.
My journaling would again be a source of comfort during the early years of my marriage. Yes, I did eventually marry in my 30’s and with my husband and I being somewhat “older parents,” we wanted to start a family within the first few years of saying “I Do.” The joy and anticipation of announcing our pregnancy was short lived when I miscarried 11 weeks into the pregnancy. My tear stained journal pages were once again filled with the WHY and HOW questions that poured out from the depths of my soul. Jesus listened to my rants of impatience in getting pregnant and in the midst of my tragedy, He was there every step of the way providing refuge and whispering His promises to me. I know the desires of your heart… be patient.
Most recently, my journal has been a place to grieve the loss of my father. His death was a sudden shock, and it has been difficult to navigate through the change this has brought to our family. The same questions have popped up once again, and as I work through my sorrow on each page of my journal, Jesus is there to provide comfort and healing. My emotional breakthroughs come when I am able to be honest and open with the God who created me. He can handle my emotions, and He has proven Himself faithful to me time and time again.
It is no surprise to any of us that life throws us its share of difficulty, but the life that God gave us is also a beautiful gift which is filled with amazing joys and triumphs. In addition to my struggles, I have written pages and pages that reflect an overflowing gratitude for what I have seen God do in my life and in the lives of the people I love. I make it a practice to reread my journal entries from the many moments of my life because in doing so I am reminded that He indeed has a plan for my life, and He always provides a path forward even when it feels impossible. Every time I am asked the question, “How did you and your husband meet?”, I am reminded that even though God’s timing didn’t align with mine, God’s plan for my spouse was better than I could have imagined and so worth the wait. I see God’s faithfulness in fulfilling the desires of my heart to be a mother every time I hug my two teenage boys, and I know I have a child who will anxiously be awaiting my arrival in Heaven someday. As painful as it is to not have my dad here with us anymore, I am grateful that he loved Jesus with his whole heart, and I have hope in knowing that we will indeed see each other again in eternity.
When I reread my journals and look back on what God has done in my life, I know that He will continue to bring me through difficult circumstances time and time again. This is exactly what speaks to my soul every time I read the proof of this truth in my journal. Do you make journaling a practice? Do you have a way of seeing how God has completely defended, protected, and made a way for you even when it seemed impossible? If not, why don’t you start today? I’m confident you will see answered prayers, God’s hand of protection, and His faithfulness in your life.