Saturday, June 19, 2010

Positive Journaling

When I was 12 or 13 years old I remember being taught a lesson in Sunday School about the importance of journal writing. I was told that it was a commandment. I recall the lesson had several quotes by Spencer W. Kimball. Here is a quote that is similar to the thoughts I remember from that Sunday lesson:
"I have encouraged the Saints to keep personal journals and family records. I renew that admonition...From time immemorial the Lord has counseled us to be a record-keeping people...We hope you will begin as of this date. If you have not already commenced this important duty in your lives, get a good notebook, a good book that will last through time and into eternity for the angels to look upon. Begin today and write in it your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives." President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals, New Era, December 1980.
Several years ago when I was rereading some of my old journal entries I realized that I always put down how sick and tired I was. I did always feel sick and tired didn't I? I had the thought come to me that maybe I should stop writing about how sick and tired I always felt. So I did. I changed my posts to be more about looking at the positives of the day. It wasn't long before I realized that I wasn't sick and tired any more. I had become grateful and happy. Suddenly I seemed cured of all my fatigue and blazee attitudes.

Another item I have found helpful in my journal writing is not writing about inappropriate or sensitive things. I haven't written things that would shock my children should they find it and read it today. My journal won't incriminate someone else either. If I have a pressing trial that would be unnecessary for my posterity to know I simply relate to it as "a trial." Remember Paul refers to his weakness as a "thorn in his side." Paul does not go into details about his weakness(es). If it is someone else who is struggling I simply say, "someone close to be has been struggling." I then bear my testimony about what I am learning from the experience and look for the blessings and the positive aspects of it. There have always been positives in any negative experience I have had. Really. Sometimes I've had to look super hard though!

When I have passed on I don't want to have my journals edited and destroyed because it contained inappropriate things. I am certain a part of who I was would be edited out. It is enough for them and myself to know that Christ is indeed merciful and forgiving of all our weaknesses. That is who I really am. I daughter of God who believes in Jesus Christ, and hopefully my life, reflected in my journals, is showcased that way. I want my life to be about the faith I had and not about all the trials I had.

Once upon a time in my life of 35 years I was helping a friend with her genealogy work. (I have helped several people through the years).  I stumbled upon some information about my friend's ancestor who had made some bad choices. I didn't know what those choices were, I only knew that I held in my hand a piece of paper for "restoration of blessings" for this person who had been excommunicated. I quickly put it back, never told a soul and reflected. I reviewed what I knew about this man whom I had actually known. He had been a GREAT man. He was honored. If the deeds of this one transgression had been known to the world would he have been remembered for the transgression or the great life he lived? President Kimball said in the above talk,
 "Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story. Why dwell on that one ugly truth about someone whose life has been largely circumspect?"
I have found that I have received great emotional strength from writing in my journal. In many ways it has been therapeutic in understanding some of my adventures in mortality. Journal writing as also been a way to recognize my blessings and to bear my testimony.


crazy4boys said...

Ever since Elder Eyring's talk on keeping a spiritual journal, I have tried to do so. I address each night's entry as Dear Boys, because really I'm writing it for them and their children. I talk about the things they did that day, the funny things said, and what we learned together. I also write about any spiritual experiences we had as a family or as individuals that day. I include interesting things from my personal scripture study and often bear my testimony.

It's really helped me focus more on the positive things each day and to actually LOOK for good. I see my children as good people, spiritual people.

Hopefully when they look back through it they'll remember all the good things and not that on a particular day they hit their brother and went to time-out 26 times, because I don't write about those things.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I have a lot of work to do with my journaling. My blog is really the only journal I have. The blog is great but I can't put personal information there so a lot is left out.

I have finally started a scripture journal though and hopefully I will start a family journal as well. I have a friend that shares a journal with each of her children where they write notes back and forth to each other. I really like the idea of having one journal that we all write in as well as our personal journals. How fun would that be??

Karen said...

I love the new blog - everything about it! I can't wait to read all of it! I have friends visiting right now so it will have to wait for a bit, but I am exited! Thank-you!

Angela said...

We started a family journal 6 weeks ago and it has been wonderful. I write in it while the husband reads scriptures during dinner and then I read aloud what I wrote and add extra comments the kids request be added. This is a great post. I have struggled with journal writing in the past prior to blogging and when I come across old journals I toss them b/c I know I don't want to read through old frustrations. Our family journal has been a great start and I'd recommend it for all.

Christy said...

Thank you for this inspiring post. So many of my old journals are full of blah. But those are not the things that I really want to remember, or have my posterity remember. You have given me some great ideas of how I can write about trials of mine or others without focusing on the negative.
The comments about spiritual journals are great. I am especially inspired by crazy4boys comment. Thank you!

Sarah said...

What WONDERFUL advice! I've journaled consistently since I was seven years old. For the last couple of years, however, I've been in a slump, not knowing how to deal with these very issues you addressed in this post. Thank you so much for the inspired direction. It's just what I needed.