Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Journaling... and Other Spiritual Disciplines

Gratitude Journal
1. The gift of reflection
2. The gift of insight
3. The gift of intrusion on my plans
4. The gift of different avenues to God's LOVE!
5. My history with journaling

New Living Translation

"If you do, the LORD's anger will burn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the LORD is giving you." Deu. 11:17

Off and on since 1958 I have maintained a diary, journal, private written reflection, on my journey through life and changes on my path of faith. Like I said, off and on...

When clergy who are in crisis visit us at the Pastoral Institute for a week long sabbatical, we recommend they spend considerable time in quiet reflection. We hope they will not only address their current situation, but also both their past and their future hopes/dreams.

My own path has been a rocky road at times. I have been strict and very structured when it comes to the faith disciplines. I would spend hours reading the Bible, spend long periods alone praying, and all types of rules that I assumed would make me worthy and more acceptable to God.

Then along about five years ago, my approach took a sharp turn. I began to consider the possibility that I didn't have to be worthy. I didn't have to know all the rules in the Bible. It was not for me to figure the life of faith out in detail; it was more a real journey.

My occasional writings in a private journey have helped me tremendously. I have been able to 'get it out' - whatever it might have been at the time. Maybe anger, maybe confusion, maybe new insights...

But my writings have also provided an opportunity to see how I have changed in my trust of God and my faith walk. To be able to look back ten/twenty/thirty years or more and see how God has led me to new understandings, through times of trials and pain, to greater peace and hopefulness regarding God's movement. All these and more provide strength and challenge me to continue to reflect and write. Not for others, but for myself and hopefully my own growth toward Christ-likeness.

I highly recommend it. It doesn't have to be an expensive leather bound book. Just start out simple with a $.49 spiral notebook. Keep it in a safe, quiet area of your home. Give yourself a few extra minutes each day - same time, same place - to pause and write. Just allow a stream of consciousness to occur. Offer both your needs and your gratitude for the day, for life, and for your circumstances.

I invite dialogue regarding your progress.