Strategies for Freedom: Unloading through Journaling
Article by Jessie Mejias, Sunodía Founder and Director
Spiritual habits and practices are part of what keep us consistently on our personal paths when it comes to journeying with the Lord. One such practice that I’ve used for years and highly recommend is unloading by writing in a journal on a regular basis. At the end of a given day, whether it was heartening or challenging, journaling can help us start to process our experiences and pray about them.
What is a journal? It’s simply a book in which you keep a personal record of your various thoughts, experiences, relationships, conversations, and insights.
In their book, Awakening the Slumbering Spirit, the Sandfords wrote:
“We should always remember that our journey in life, no matter how difficult and how fragmented, is a journey of daily decision making supported by a loving God of grace.
Many people have found that writing in a journal is a very helpful way to sort through the impact of situations and to make sense of jumbled feelings. There is something about the process of putting our experiences down in words that helps us gain clarity of understanding and be more ready to choose a positive direction in our daily journey.”1
My own personal mentor shared her thoughts on the value of journaling in learning how to communicate:
“Where bad feelings persist, the healthful way to give release to them is to write them out in privacy. They must have release. If repressed, suppressed and pushed down they will foment beneath the surface in the memory bank of the subconscious mind [in your heart] and explode inappropriately when something similar makes a pathway, inadvertently, to what is store. This is what makes ‘angry people.’”2
These thoughts will provide you with many opportunities for growth. When you look back upon your notes, you will be able to see where you’ve been growing, even when you feel like you haven’t been!
Write in your journal whenever you need to reflect on a situation in your life or want to remember an important lesson. Remember, a journal is for your own personal use—make it your own! The time you take to to write down your reflections in your journal is time well spent! Also, be sure to write out your dreams, what you think they mean and what you feel the Lord is saying to you through them.
Tips for Starting to Journal
If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know how to start,” use these pointers to help you begin:
- Choose how you will journal. Any type of notebook or even a loose leaf binder works well for journaling—use whichever type you prefer. Use a computer or your phone to keep your notes. I prefer to do my journaling on my laptop. I date and name each entry so that I can find it easily when I want to review important entries.
- Identify a situation or relationship in your life that you want to explore, then write a brief description of the circumstances or experience.
- Ask yourself:
- How does this person or situation make me feel? If necessary, use word pictures to describe those feelings, such as, “I feel like I am ‘up against a wall’” or “I feel like I am on top of the world.”
- How did I respond/how am I responding to this person or situation?
- What was good or bad about this particular situation or relationship?
- Why is this important/unimportant to me?
- Write your own thoughts and ideas!
- Don’t concern yourself with grammar or spelling. The process is what is important.
Most unloading through journaling is simply about recording your own feelings, but you will find even greater freedom if you take a step further and begin practicing “two-way” journaling.
Two-way journaling is, first of all,not automatic writing. It is simply keeping a notebook of one’s thoughts, feelings and prayers and what one senses to be God’s answers. Listening for God’s input to your journal does not mean that you “disengage” your mind. It is actually following David’s example in the Psalms, which are the greatest examples of two-way journaling!
A simple way to learn how to do two-way journaling is to follow the steps in Dr. Mark Virkler’s teaching on4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice3:
Key #1: QUIET MYSELF DOWN
I must learn to still my own thoughts and emotions, so that I can sense God’s flow of thoughts and emotions within me.
Key #2: TUNE TO SPONTANEITY
God’s voice in our hearts sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts. Therefore, when I tune to God, I tune to spontaneity.
Key #3: FOCUS ON JESUS
As I pray, I fix the eyes of my heart upon Jesus, seeing in the spirit the dreams and visions of Almighty God.
Key #4: WRITE
Journaling, the writing out of our prayers and God’s answers, provides a great new freedom in hearing God’s voice.
Journaling to Remember God’s Truth
I find that the greatest value of writing down what God says—in a book or on a computer—is that later on I can go back and reread the promises that God has made to me. Also, if my journal is written out I can submit it to my spiritual authority(ies) for testing. Finally, we don’t always remember what has been said to us very accurately. Have you ever played that game where you whisper something into someone else’s ears, and so on, and when it gets back to you, it doesn’t sound anything like what you said in the first place?! It’s like that with God: when we write it down we can go back and say, Oh, that’s what He said, notwhat I’ve been repeating…
If your journaling is from God, it should result in love, peace and joy. When you first start journaling, you should have someone you can submit your journaling to who is spiritually mature that can check to see if you are on the right track. Be sure not to make any major decisions that are a result of journaling unless you have submitted it to two or three such people.
Journaling can be an effective doorway to truly identifying what’s in your heart—and what’s in God’s heart for you. When you practice it on a regular basis you will learn more about yourself—and about God—and it will lead you to greater freedom.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 (NIV)
When you’re ready to learn more about hearing God’s voice and two-way journaling, consider signing up for our next 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice class! You can find out when we’re offering it next by joining our mailing list, or watching our upcoming events page. Want to start your own 4 Keys small group? Contact Sunodia today and find out how!
- John Loren Sandford;Paula Sandford;Lee Bowman. Awakening the Slumbering Spirit (Kindle Locations 1066-1069). Kindle Edition.
- “Communication: An Art and a Science to be Learned,” by Carolyn Allen
- Retrieved 2/19/05 from http://cwgministries.org/Four-Keys-to-Hearing-Gods-Voice.htm