Practice@People's: Journaling

Barbara Mahr.JPG

This month we're exploring the spiritual practice of Journaling with PUMC Discipleship Team member Barbara Mahr.



The practice of Journaling is as unique as you are.

§  Journals can have lines, no lines, can be large or small, beautiful or ordinary, bound or loose leaf. Choose what you are comfortable with – me, I like a full size lined page so I can just keep scribbling. 

§  Journals can be written in short phrases, run on sentences (that’s me), poetry, prose or art.  Whatever works for you.  (Remember, your English teacher is not going to read this!)

Barbara's daughter shows her just how personalized journals can be.

§  Journals are private.  Tell your family no one gets to read your journals until after you die.  Hide it if you need to.  This is the only way you can feel fully free to express yourself. 

§  My daughter Sarah’s journal has no lines.  In it she writes text, stories and poems; she draws; she pastes in pictures and quotes.  No matter the medium, she is understanding what has happened in her life and dreams her future.  She has been my journaling teacher.

Reflection is an essential part of growing in faith.

Journaling is a wonderful spiritual practice that allows you to understand your life. The great theologian Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life must be lived forward, but understood backward.”    

I have been journaling for years.  I kept a Diary as a girl.  A dairy is a record of events.  I know that I had measles, mumps, and German measles 3 years in a row in the same calendar week.  I recorded that in my 5 year diary…. But a diary is not a journal.  A journal is a record of your whole life – yes, the events-- but also your feelings, insights, life learnings, worries, gratefulness, and prayers.

Recently, when I faced several difficult experiences: broken relationships, my mother’s death, and health problems, I stopped journaling.  I was called to attention about this recently, and began again. Very quickly my perspective shifted – I “understood backward”.  Looking back I could see God working.  I became less worried, less stressed, and more willing to let go.

There are many kinds of journals.

§  Events journals – simple remembering is the first level of reflecting

§  Gratitude journals – a record of blessings and the things you are grateful for

§  Prayer journals – written prayers, a record of your experience of God

§  Devotional journals – reflections on devotional readings and scripture

§  Inward-journey journals – a review of the day, examining your feelings and actions, seeing God’s presence in the events of the day, and in the feelings you experienced.  Hearing God’s Call.

So why should you try journaling?

§  It is a tool for exploring your inner depths

§  It can help you see your spiritual growth (or lack of movement)

§  It is a way to express – your feelings, responses to people and events, devotional insights, your prayers and dreams, and discover the answers to your prayers.

§  It is a way to commune with God – sometimes when I let my writing flow, suddenly I become aware that God is speaking through my pen, and my writing ends with a prayer.

§  And when you look back at what you have written, you will discover recurring themes and questions to consider further in times of reflection and meditation.

So I say try it, you just might like it!!  

Kate Sweet