I started the habit of journaling as a first year pastor, and have kept it up for 27 years. I’ve kept all of my journals, but I’ve rarely reviewed them.
Since my knee injury a month ago, I’ve made some changes in the way that I write in my journal.
My habit has been to write first thing in the morning, before I do anything else. Then I spend time in prayer. Thinking back over what I’ve written in the past, I’ve realized that most of my writing has been grumbling and complaining, and has set the tone for this to be my general attitude.
However, at least in the short term, my recent accident has caused me to change that habit. I sustained a catastrophic injury, but I’m profoundly grateful that it wasn’t worse. It’s as if God has given me a second chance. Right now, I’m walking through life with a limp like Jacob. As Jacob was changed by the presence of God in his wrestling with God, I hope to be changed.
This new habit of gratitude has changed how I journal. Most of my thinking is processed by writing. So, I will write in my journal about negative events and emotions. But I’ve resolved to only do it once per incident, and not revisit it to obsess over it. I’ve determined that I want to make positive contributions to share with others.
What I’ve begun to do instead is to generate ideas for blog posts, for lessons, for sermons, for projects, and for anything that will help me grow. To restart the blog, I determined that I needed to generate ten ideas for articles ahead of time, and to stay at least ten ideas ahead. I’ve used the Muji A5 72 sheet notebook for years now. Instead of writing each idea out in longhand, I’ve begun to do outlines, or even bullet points. The result is illegible to anyone but me. I’m finding that this is a much healthier habit, and one that reinforces my resolution to do all the good that I can right now.
This new habit has, for the most part, changed my frame of mind. I still get stuck in old habits sometimes, but I’m much more aware of my own grumbling and complaining. I’m beginning to see it for the sin that it is, rather than a personal disposition that I can excuse.