“….and don’t forget to journal”

I said those words to my client (I am fighting the urge to use the politically incorrect term “patient”) as she left my office.  As a provider of mental health care to clients, both in the professional world and in private conversations with friends and family, I know that medication will only take you so far.

I am fully persuaded that the expression of feelings, frustrations , anger,  despair, joy and elation are best processed with the act of writing.  As the pen meets the paper, or the fingers the keyboard, the mind opens and emotions release. 

Problems loom larger when stored in the mind.  Sharing, even with our own selves for no one else to see, causes the issues that threaten to overwhelm us to lose power when reread in print.  And so, while so many are skeptical of the benefits of expression, I know that journaling makes our minds freer and spirits more open.

How do I know this? I read through my journals last night.  Sometimes, when the mood strikes, I go back and flip through the pages of my life and read and laugh and cry. Sometimes I read and relive days of the wonder when I walked so close to God I felt His breath on my face as I wrote words of love. Some times I read and remember a slow simmering, boiling anger towards circumstances and people. I read how in a fit of anger I poured out bitterness and God’s feet, and how He patiently listened, sometimes changing the events and sometimes changing me.

So why would someone who sees the benefit just close her journal and set it on the shelf?  Too busy? Maybe.  Too frustrated to put it into words? Maybe. Too Tired? Maybe.

Maybe she realizes that the entries all read the same lately and it is monotonous.  Maybe she realizes that it sounds terribly close to complaining, whining even if only for her eyes to read. Perhaps She feels like God, the receiver of every entry will think the same as He reads the entries of the journal.

Days pass with no entries and I wonder about the days from those blank pages. Did God move? Did things change?  Did the family grow closer and work out problems? Did friends do what friends do, and love us?  Did God infuse the spirit with a new hope and fervor?

For journaling is about more than processing thoughts and emotions, prayers and feelings. It’s about looking back and seeing the fingers of God tracing His love in your life. It’s about seeing, maybe even years later, how He wrote His love on our hearts and our name in His hands. He journals too, and shares these love words with us.

“…and don’t forget to journal”, I remind her and she smiles, and I do too, because I have reminded myself of the greatest medicine known to man. I have reminded myself that it has been too long since I took up pen in hand and wrote to the Father.  And I pull out a scrap piece of paper and scratch these words out so I can type them later. I won’t forget either……

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