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The journals

 

101_1647My old journals were stored in matching boxes, tucked in a shelf upstairs. I thought I needed to keep them out of sight, for privacy perhaps. But seldom are visitors in the upstairs room anymore.

I decided to unload the boxes. The journals lay around the room, their various sizes and designs an analogy of the years, each one different.

When I was a child, I often started a daily diary in January. The book had dated pages and I wrote regularly for a few weeks or a month. Then I’d skip a day or more. Being the perfectionist I am (and continue to try to overcome), blank pages meant I had failed. I soon abandoned the book altogether.

Tiny books record events from my teens when life seemed so challenging. I was navigating the road to becoming an adult. My latest crush was a common topic.

Journaling was sporadic at best when being a wife and mother was all-consuming; recording my life’s events didn’t seem important.

I would love to look back at those years now, see them from the perspective of the younger me.

My more consistant journaling began in 1997 in a simple spiral book with lined pages. Pen went to paper and took on a life of its own.

I began recording my thoughts as well as the events of my days, and I wrote when I wanted to. I was not compelled to do it every day. It was the niche I needed.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone will read all those books. My handwriting gets messy and illegible as I scribble the things in my head and my heart. The volumes hold the thankful days and the grumbling days, the sweet moments and the times I cried.

Perhaps they just need to be buried with me. Because in those pages are the honest version of myself, the view I try to keep hidden from public scrutiny. The words on the pages reveal more of what God sees than anyone else.

The journal was a listening friend, a safe place to vent, with no contradicting voices or interruptions. It was therapy as I worked out a problem, rambling on as I needed. Other times, it was an altar where I repented and where prayers were lifted to the Savior who understands me in a way no one else does.

I counted blessings on the pages. I wrote about friends and family, the treasures they are to me. I recorded the everyday and the extraordinary.

I suppose I will keep writing as long as I have pen and paper and a mind to do it. It matters not if anyone reads them. I do not write for others. I write for me. I write to remember.

When I am old and more confined in place, perhaps I will leaf through the pages of my journals and remember what a full and blessed life I lived. The ups and the downs, the sideways and crooked will be there. I will read and be grateful for all the days I was given.

The sweet singer of Israel wrote these words:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” — Psalm 139:16 AMPC

While I was writing about the days of my life as they passed, my heavenly Father recorded them before my birth. What a beautiful thought, that He knew me then, that He has been watchful to carry out His purpose in me for all my years.

I take a breath and consider the wonder of that kind of love.

I set all the journals up on the open shelves in chronological order. They are interesting to look at, their variety of color, shape, and size. For each year has been unique.

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In some way, my life is there on the shelf. But the plans for me are guided by an unseen hand, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

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Hope

Sometimes I re-read my journals, the ones I have been writing in for years.

I wonder sometimes why I feel compelled to write, to record daily incidents and the big events in my life.  I think it must be that I want to remember.  I’m not sure what will happen to all those journals when I leave this world.  Who will read them when I’m gone, ride all my emotional roller-coasters, shake their heads and say, “who was this woman?”

Because I am very real on those pages.  I am more honest there than I am in living out my life in front of people.  My inner thoughts are there, those words that never come out of my mouth (we can all be thankful for that!).  I express joy and gladness and thankfulness.  But I also give voice to my hurts, my sorrows, my struggles, my questions.  Sometimes I am in a dark place with my words.

As I read those old journals, I see the deep valleys, the times I wondered what in the world was going to become of me.  Hope was dim.  As I read on, I see how God was with me even then, how He brought me through the darkness.  And I am encouraged to hope again.

Hope.  I’ve pondered the word lately, considered its implications to me.  How do I hope and dream for something while protecting my heart from the pain of disappointment when I don’t get what I hoped for?  I’ve recorded those kinds of experience in my journals.

I am learning a lesson.  I am learning to Hope In.  Instead of hoping for something, hoping for someone to do what I want, hoping to get what I long for, I Hope In the only One who knows what I need, what is best for me, what will help me grow to be more like Jesus.

So I Hope In God.  He has my best interest in mind.  I won’t always get what I want.  It will be painful at times.  I will walk in the darkness for seasons. But there is light at the end of my Tunnel of Hope.

For He is there.  At the end of it all, God is in my hope and I will hope in Him.

I will write my heart and my soul in the private words of my journals.  I will look back and remember Who is in charge of all of my words and all of my life.  I will see how He worked all things for my good.  And I will continue to Hope. In. Him.

For what He desires for me is right.  I pray for His desires to be my desires.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.  — Psalm 37:4

Commit your way to the Lord, roll each care of your load on Him; trust, lean on, rely on, and be confident also in Him and He will bring it to pass.  — Psalm 37:5

For Hope is an open door into the ways of a good God who does all things well.  I cannot know what is best for me.  But He does.  When my hope lines up with what He desires for me, I will not be disappointed.

So I will seek His desires.  I will pray to crave what He wants to give.  I will look for His open door.  I will live in Hope.

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