Confess: Have you ever read someone else’s diary? Maybe it was completely fiction, like the popular Dear America books or the Royal Diaries Series I read in fourth grade. Or maybe it was a published genuine diary of someone famous, like The Diary of Anne Frank, or Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Perhaps you are fortunate to own the diary of one of your ancestors who moved out west on the Oregon Trail, or lived through WWII. In any event, we are able to see these peoples’ lives (whether real or fictional) with a bird’s eye view. We know that the hardships they’re going through won’t last forever; we may know who their descendants are and even more importantly, what happened because of these people’s choices in life.
Sometimes our lives can get pretty discouraging because we don’t know how our story will turn out. We can’t see in the present moment of our lives what will be the result of our actions today. What’s more, we’re usually not aware of the consequences our decisions might have on others coming after us. That’s probably a good thing sometimes, since I’m sure we would become so anxiety-stricken that we would never make a decision to save our lives! I’m thankful we can choose God to be our Author who sees the end from the beginning, and who can work all things together for our good, even when we make mistakes.
When I get a new blank journal, I wonder what sort of events I will record on the white pages. Sometimes I even write a little note to myself on a random page somewhere in it where I say something like, “I wonder what will happen on this page?” When I eventually make my way to that spot, sometimes I’m surprised that whatever it is I’m writing has happened to me and I never would have guessed at the beginning of the journal that I’d be writing about that! Blank pages can give us hope beyond tomorrow. Life is not static. Even when we’re caught in a rut, eventually life has a way of churning something up that will cause us to respond in some way, and then we’re faced with a choice.
A diary can help us view our lives with a little more 3-D perspective. Sometimes I look at troubled teens in the world and wonder how much good the habit of journal writing might do them. I know keeping a diary won’t solve the world’s problems. But I think this discipline (which is usually best instilled at a young age) causes one to ponder the results of their actions a bit more. Especially if we’ve read others’ personal stories, we start to take into consideration how the people coming after us will view our lives, instead of just living to please ourselves. Ideally, I think we would like to lives we would like to write down in a book. No one’s perfect, and a good dose of honesty keeps a personal story human and identifiable. But in general, I think recording our lives will help us keep in mind to make choices that will leave the world a better place. Of course, a lot of all this is determined by your worldview, values, and beliefs. But I don’t know anyone who wants to live their life as a waste.
We don’t intentionally do so, and yet sometimes we go through seasons where we feel just plain stuck for one reason or another. Keeping a journal can help motivate us to do something worthwhile with the time we’ve been given. I’ve never tried this, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting to write my journal in third person. What a perspective that would give one!
How has journaling helped give you a motivating way to view your life? Feel free to leave comments below!