In my previous article, I provided tips on how journaling can enable psychological healing. Expressive writing provides an outlet to release stress. It removes mental road blocks and uncovers solutions. Journaling also helps us to deepen our self-discovery, measure our progress, and provides us with a way of resolving the past. In addition, journaling is a profound tool for deepening your spiritual walk. The very act of writing down spiritual truths makes them graspable and therefore more real. In this article, I provide a few suggestions to help you experience God through journaling.
7. Journaling Provides a Connection Point with God
Visualize your journal as a meeting place with God. Try to dialogue with Him, instead of writing about Him. I find that talking directly to God in my writing brings a deeper level of intimacy to my relationship with Him. Be real. Share whatever is on your mind and heart. Transparency is the key to intimacy. As you write, give Him your worries, burdens and pain. Ask Him what He wants to give you in exchange, for example, love, healing, rest, comfort, and peace. Maybe start out with a prayer, ask Him questions, or write down a scripture verse that impacted you. The main point is to find that place of connection with God and engage with it. Journaling forces us to slow down and listen. It is a place to get back to the basics: I am a child of God and He is my Dad. Journaling will help you to strengthen yourself in the Lord as you mediate on your identity in Christ and on the His good nature.
8. Find Gratitude
Experiencing authentic gratitude feels good. Research studies have concluded that finding reasons to be thankful makes us happier and healthier. Why is this? Expressing thankfulness in the midst of our problems is a powerful way to change our perspective and shift our mood. Thankfulness helps our hearts to see God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of storms. When we choose to focus on the good, it changes the way we see the “landscape” of our lives. Your once-negative mental filter becomes less dark. Being mindful of God’s gifts also opens our eyes to see the undiscovered blessings that were overshadowed by hopelessness, fear, and anxiety. The result is an encouraged spirit. Gratitude journaling functions like a reset button. An attitude of gratitude does not deny problems, it just chooses to not allow them to influence us. Your first attempt at gratitude journaling might feel a bit mechanical. However, over time you will find that you will become what you focus on.
9. Re-evaluate Your Problems
How are you labeling the events in your life? As a Christian counselor, I have seen how my clients who search for meaning in even the darkest of situations find hope and strength. Journaling helps me to reprocess my trials with a Kingdom of Heaven mindset. God uses every trial to upgrade us. Because God uses everything for my good, I want to uncover the treasures and blessings that God planted in my situation for me to find. When I allow my circumstances to control me, I have found that engaging with these questions in my journal can help me to become re-aligned with God’s truth. I ask: “God how do you see my situation? What part of your character are you revealing to me now? How do you see me? What good work are creating inside of me? What are you teaching me? What are you preparing me for? What am I missing that you see?” God is always calling us to come up higher and see. Journaling is like going to the top of the mountain and grasping things that we were not able to see in the valley. Be encouraged in this – He is committed to healing and restoring all things in you.
10. Reprogram Your Thoughts
Every battle begins in the mind. Journaling helps me to actively change my thinking patterns by providing a place where I can be intentional about putting on the “mind of Christ.” Write with the purpose of digging up destructive patterns of thinking. Ask yourself: “What is the problem? What are my negative thoughts? Am I believing any lies?” Lies are any thoughts that oppose God’s word. Try to capture your negative thoughts on paper. Ask God to replace your false beliefs with His truth and to renew your mind. Write down scripture verses that challenge your problem and that confront your fear, doubt, anxiety, depression, insecurity, etc. Writing down these verses not only helps you to memorize God’s word, but it allows you to consume the scripture in a deeper way. Conclude by creating positive declarations that inspire your faith, for example, “I can trust God because He is a good Father who always takes good care of me.”
11. Journaling Sparks Creativity
Proverbs 29:18 states that people perish without vision. We can therefore conclude that dreaming is essential and life-giving. Journaling is a way for you to engage your imagination and visualize your future. What are your hopes and desires? What are you longing for? Ask God to give you a dream. Leave behind your smallness of mind and allow yourself to dream big. Just start to write down any idea without judging it and allow it to take shape. Let your journal be the place where impossibilities don’t exist. Be daring and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to unexpected places.
Journaling and Christian Counseling
As a Christian counselor, I believe that God has a way of pulling the very best out of you. Journaling helps us to partner with His creative work and plan. It helps us to savor life’s beautiful moments, mine treasures from the bad, and unlock new adventures. I pray that these expressive writing tips help you to discover how wide, long, high and deep His enduring love for you is. If you would like more guidance on expressive writing as a therapeutic tool, or if you desire to begin your path of healing, please don’t hesitate to contact me to find out more about Christian counseling.
ʺSunday Morningsʺ courtesy of Tyler Burrus, Flickr CreativeCommons, (CC BY 2.0); “4. Diary,” courtesy of Kevin Couette, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0)