Are you one of the millions of men suffering from journalphobia?
Do you see a pen and notebook the same way a toddler sees a rubber glove and a syringe? Does the very sight of these implements make you nauseous? Well, there is hope. The talented scientists in the Manhood Journey laboratory have developed a cure!
Kidding aside, it is true, right? Most men hate even the concept of journaling and I think the distaste is due to two factors. First, some misconceptions. Second, a lack of appreciation for the benefits.
I find increasing value in journaling. In an attempt to convince you to give it a go, I will share my approach. Your mileage may vary, but I hope this persuades you to at least (re)consider developing the habit.
- I do not journal daily. This stood in my way for years. I equated journaling with rote process and absolute rigidity (I abhor both). Now, I write as I feel led. That may be three times in one day or one time in a week.
- I do not “talk to” my journal. I have no “Dear Journal” entries. Just plain creepy. However, I do sometimes talk to God via my journal. It is almost as if He can actually read it.
With those in mind, here are four ways I use my journal.
1: Record prayers
I head the page, “Dear Father,” and pour out my heart. Putting pen to my prayers helps in many ways, it: displaces worry; illuminates selfishness; reveals hidden stress; and, affirms blessings in my life. I review past prayers to find that mountainous problem I had six months ago eventually evaporated into an insignificant molehill.
2: Capture sermon notes
I take my journal to church. Sometimes, I capture the preacher’s flow or key points. Other times, I discern a personal application and tune out as the Spirit convicts, enlightens or encourages me. I remember more of what I write down.
3: Draw pictures
You may not be an artist. I have some mad sketching skills, but I’m no Bob Ross (God rest his afro-wearing soul!). Even so, our brains think in pictures. If I sketch out a stick figure or a diagram relating to a topic, I more deeply embed the idea in my brain. Even crude drawings can enhance retention and comprehension.
4: Write scripture
I love writing down scripture passages. It helps me hide God’s word in my heart that I might not sin against Him. By reflecting on past passages, I see certain scriptures resonated with me at various seasons in my life. I am awed by God’s steadfastness juxtaposed with my inconsistency.
One of Journaling’s key benefits: The “Jerkectomy”
Let’s say I have a bone to pick with my wife or I’m angry with one of my sons (shocking, I know). Occasionally, I just pound out my frustration on paper. Many a journal entry has opened, “I’m so ticked off about…” A typical progression unfolds.
- I see the issue on paper and it suddenly seems more manageable
- I compare my light and momentary afflictions to those with “real” problems
- I discover ways I may be exacerbating the problem
- I seek God’s wisdom in addressing the issue
- I ask His forgiveness for my selfishness or lack of grace
This is like a controlled detonation of my temper. Nobody gets hurt. I normally do this at night. The next morning I have a fresher outlook and a cooler head. I am sure my wife wishes I did it more often.
You may not be “the journaling type,” but why not give it a try? Maybe there’s a better story for your life just waiting to be written.