So, What is a Journal?
by Bud Katter
Journals, pen strokes on paper or keystrokes on a computer, allow us a safe way to explore topics with ourselves. They are, in fact, a reflection of our soul on the mirror of life.
Spiritual Journals give us a place to record our honest and vulnerable journey with God. We can record what God’s been doing in our lives and we can spiritually share ourselves with Him and examine ways for spiritual growth. Journaling is one important spiritual discipline to employ to achieve a grace-centered life.
The ability to show up regularly to journal (and review later if desired) permits us:
- To generate & record ideas,
- To release anger and,
- To ask for forgiveness,
- And to express our gratitude of blessings received.
We can describe:
- Where we have been,
- What happened today,
- And where we would like to go.
We can delineate those specific plans for future days and evaluate the accomplishments at a later journal entry.
As a place to sustain our inner personal growth and enhance our professional career, a journal should never be an end to itself but more like practicing the piano – the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Nor should journal keeping become an obligation or a chore; it is a tool and may fit your “hand” better than other tools fit.
Some more specific types of journals are:
- Logs, a regularly kept record of performance like a ships log recording navigational details. This factual account of events over time is usually kept in a format or even in a table for easy examination of trends and patterns. In summary, a log is a chronological journal, focused on the recording of a specific category of events of our lives and our reflections on those events – a temporal ordering that is familiar to us.
- Diaries, “a daily record and a book for keeping private notes and records” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, are filled with everything private and personal. They are filled with feelings where logs are aimed at recording facts. Anything is fair game as a “subject” for an entry and spontaneous, “free writing” is the method usually employed. Since knowing a person’s feelings are the clue to knowing a person, diaries are sought after by readers eager to learn about the writer’s true self.
But since our descriptions of our current thoughts are influenced by our moods, diaries usually prove difficult to retroactively analyze the soul, even by the writer.
- Journals then, are a “service book…for accounts of daily events, a record of proceedings and a periodical dealing with current events,” according to the dictionary. Or they can be thought of as containing the superset of entries from logs and diaries, but also recording personal reflections therefore becoming a true working document.
T. Mallon organized journal keepers into seven types:
- Chroniclers—of everyday events of one’s life; more like a diary.
- Travelers—keeping travel journals; more like a log of times and places.
- Pilgrims—exploring the questions of life and its purpose; a true journal.
- Creators—documenting ideas and sketches for later actions; a service book.
- Apologists—explaining history from their viewpoint or another’s; feelings and facts together.
- Confessors—acknowledging their sins and asking forgiveness; and
- Prisoners—either physically or virtually restrained, needing to vent anger not possible in real life; primarily feeling-oriented.
So we have named above the keepers of the most common classifications of journals:
- Family History,
- Nature & Garden,
- Professional Accomplishments,
- Dream Analysis,
- Responses to Reading Scripture.
But the one “face” of Journaling not mentioned above is one that I feel is perhaps the most important, the Personal Goals and Growth Journal. By writing down your goals, whether daily, weekly, or whatever and then reflecting on the progress toward achieving those goals; that writing can be a terrific source of increased inner potential and development.
As May Sarton said, “ Perhaps we write toward what we will become from where we are.”
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