Contemplate for a moment how you felt the instant you laid eyes on your very first love. Is that how you feel about this person today? What do you think about this person, if you even think about them at all anymore? Remembering back to that moment, are you able to articulate your faith experience from that time? How would you describe your faith now? Where our thoughts, feelings and faith fit into our journaling process are as crucial as every other element, if not more so. Recognizing them as the main ingredients of the whole of life is about as simple, and as complicated, as as it gets. If you are able to clarify your thoughts, feelings and faith around an earlier or present experience through journaling them, you have the capacity to transform your life.
Undisturbed and unexamined, old thoughts can continue to direct us down unusable, personally destructive paths, leaving us wondering why our lives are miserable and frustrating. Perhaps your organizational skills are a challenge for you, and each time you are in a position to plan an event, personal or professional, you become frustrated and are not sure where to begin. Your mind goes in three different directions at once, you are unable to focus on a set of steps to put together the theme, the activities, the refreshments and the guest list. Journaling this process in the present can help you focus your energy, understand where your thoughts are taking you, and, over time, help you redirect your thoughts down more productive avenues.
Negative feelings, set in emotional concrete and stroked fervently over the years, scrape away at our souls until, turning to hardened calluses, we no longer remember to feel anything other than bitterness and resentment. Left unexamined, unchallenged, life passes us by. All the positive energy in the world bounces off the solid boundaries of someone determined to remain mired in disillusionment and denial. Writing down how we feel about whatever is happening in our lives mainly gives us perspective. From heart, to pen, to paper, we are creating a channel for our feelings, and a little bit of space that gives us breathing room, and an opportunity to make different feeling choices for ourselves. When we have become so intimate with a pattern of feelings that we can only sense the trench deepening beneath us, we need to create a new pattern. Journaling can help us create that new, potentially life-altering pattern by first giving us the opportunity to recognize the old one we are in without judgment or fear.
By the same token, faith left unexamined is usually a faith not lived, and becomes a faith that succumbs to stagnation or death. Prayer is clearly a key component to infusing energy, strength and purpose into our faith, but journaling can again give us the opportunity and the framework to recharge ourselves by releasing old patterns to make room for the new. Have you ever consciously asked yourself how your faith spoke to you in any given situation? How about when you were faced with a tough disciplinary situation with your child? Or when you were trying to decide on how to balance your work with your personal life? How did your faith speak to you as you woke up this morning? All of these are situations in which our faith is present, whether we use its strength and wisdom purposefully in our lives, or not. Journaling how we understand our faith has, or has not, addressed our lives recently or in the past, can help us begin to use our faith consciously and regularly.
Considering how our thoughts, feelings and faith speak to us in the journaling process invites God to the dialogue, a God-centered conversation in which we can observe how and when our beliefs were engaged, or not engaged, in the process of living. An examined life transforms to an informed life, and an informed life transcends to a consciously-lived life. When we are conscious on our journey, it's a whole lot easier to recognize God and follow our purpose in life.
About The Author
Cory L. Kemp
As an ordained minister I have worked in educational ministries in several congregations, as well as pastoring a congregation. My writing has focused on nonfiction essays and I have recently submitted a theological memoir for publication. My ministerial background and love of writing have combined to develop Creating Women Ministries, a website dedicated to encouraging theological dialogue, particularly among women, through workshops, journaling and personal spiritual development. My website can be found at http://www.creatingwomenministries.com, and I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My blog is located at http://creatingwomenministries.blogspot.com.
This article was posted on November 21, 2005