j o u r n a l i n g

visual diariesI have always kept a journal or a visual diary of some kind, well at least since my teenage years. What I wrote in them then was nothing prolific and was more in line with contacts, birth dates and notes from friends and also including a marriage ceremony message from one of those silly things teens did back in the 80’s. Something no teenager could relate to now…..ever!

In my 20’s my journaling changed to include my thoughts, concerns, dreams, desires, wishes and some prayers. I remember vaguely some of the things I wrote then as I write this but, these were destroyed after God literally saved my life from habits that were not healthy in my faith journey. It was important to get rid of the life that was, the years of cult activity that cost me so much and anything that had to do with it.

In this photograph are the last 15 years of my journals and visual diaries. I don’t know what it’s like to be without a journal. Actually, I do and I have written on whatever I could scrounge up from my handbag or pocket; drawn and written on papered tablecloths at restaurants, classy I know; and when that’s failed I’ve purchased a new journal so I could jot down my thoughts, ideas, prayers, inspiration and illustrations. Usually I have several on the go at once. I currently have 2 by my bedside, one personal and one that I use for devotion ideas for work, 1 in my handbag; with a half full back up that I put down somewhere, but was found for this photo.

Journaling is a part of my journey. It is a habit. As I gathered them all out almost a year ago to photograph, I was encouraged by the number of them, but also wondered how many more there could be if my habit was less sporadic at placing pen on paper. Some of them are more visual than others, some are all writing. Some contain photographs of events and happenings we get up to as a family. They include notes from sermons, podcasts, images of inspiration for my artwork, things that move me in some way. There are diagrams and details of artworks I want to construct, paint, print, illustrate, Photoshop or photograph. Some contain the titles of books I want to write, some contain the jottings of these books, poetry, songs, working through questions and concerns, writing to God, prayers and all of them contain, in different intensities, the seeking of God.

What I realised as I balanced these to take photos, is how precariously balanced our lives are. How precariously balanced my life is. My journaling helps to order my thoughts and process life stuff. It helps balance me. It helps focus me. It helps me reconnect with God by clearing out the junk stored up that I hold on to that drowns out his still quiet voice. Journaling helps me express all the things that I can’t share with people at midnight or that I can’t or shouldn’t share at all. Those things that are between God and I. Where His Grace is abundant. Sometimes this has been a process over weeks, months, even years. I often discover as I look back over past entries the great healing and then the tears of joy that come in realising that strong holds have been broken open, fears, loneliness, a multitude of messy stuff, the journey of isolation, busyness are not consuming any longer, instead freedom is left.

The habit of journaling. The habit of releasing all that stuff that could consume my joy.

All of these journals embrace aspects of me and I see so much of God in how entries begun as laments, concerns or questions conclude in clarity and thankfulness.

What habits are you developing?