The joy of a journal is that it is totally personal to you and so the style of writing and the way you record what is on your heart and mind is up to you! The contents will not be seen by anyone else, unless you choose to show them, and the journal will not be marked or assessed! So there is freedom to experiment with styles and ways of recording your journey.
You asked whether I had used the same style from the beginning and how my use of the journal had changed over time. Initially I stayed with the format Joyce Huggett suggested, but over time the style, frequency and way of recording has changed.
I have had seasons where I have begun each entry by listing the things that I am thankful for and what I am praising God for. I have found this especially helpful during challenging times, since it helps keep my focus looking up towards God, rather than down at the trials, tribulations and temptations which are threatening to overwhelm me!
Somehow recording the difficulties after listing the praise and thanksgiving, helps bring a sense of clarity and proportion to the difficulties. By recording what has happened, we are then in a better position to learn to notice what is happening and what God is wanting to share with us about it.
As you know I am not artistic, but for those that are, using their drawing skills can be a great way to convey thoughts and feelings and to depict their life. It is the process of drawing, rather than the finished ‘artwork’ which is key. As you draw, you may find that one issue becomes more prominent than you thought it was. The value of this approach lies in discovering more about yourself and God through it.
If you have not experimented with this, you may like to try drawing your life as a plot of land, (remember my reflection on the Lord’s Prayer)
I regularly record Bible verses and passages which have particularly struck me, as well as quotes from books that I am reading. Some people like to include photos or pictures or newspaper cuttings that have impacted them or drawn them closer to God through pondering on them.
To sum up : While a diary records life events, a journal is one of the best ways I have found to record the inner journey of faith, to chart its course and to log the changes that occur along the way.
- It enables me to look back with thanksgiving at the ways God has taught and led me.
- To look forward with faith and hope.
- To rest in his presence, in the present, secure in the knowledge of his grace and mercy and unfailing love.
Keep writing, and running the race marked out for you!
P.S. Research into the shared characteristics of 300 significant history-shapers found that the one thing they had in common was… they all kept a journal!