There is a box that sits on the shelf in my home office, full of old journals that I have written in over the years. These journals tell the story of my life. They give an account of my journey to grow in faith and character, and the ups and downs of my battles and triumphs along the way.
Sometimes, when I am looking for a bit of inspiration, I will pull out this box and read through the pages of these old journals. There is always some brilliant little gem of insight, long since forgotten, that will jump off the page and re-motivate me. I love the fact that re-reading the lessons I have learned in days gone by can once again stir my emotions and move me to action.
One thing that always strikes me as I read through my old journals is simply how much my mood could change from day to day, or even from page to page. My life has always been somewhat of a roller coaster ride, and my journals illustrate this well! One day, I would be so full of joy and happiness, eager to document the beauty I observed in the world all around me. The next day, I would get myself so worked up about one thing or another—situations that I can’t remember now, even if I try—and vent about it for pages.
Some of these entries are exhausting to read—they just seem to go back and forth over the same things again and again. I can become easily disheartened by all of the silly little things that I used to struggle with on a daily basis. I tend to criticize myself and feel embarrassed that some of these issues existed in the first place. But on the other hand, it is so encouraging to see how I have grown beyond many of the struggles life has presented me with. Over time, I have been able to identify and address certain issues in order to work on them and ultimately progress beyond them.
Looking back through old journals can be very revealing. It is a powerful reminder to me that the things I worry and fret about from moment to moment will one day be distant memories (or be completely forgotten about altogether). It also shows me that when life is hard and I can’t understand how things will work out, there is always a bigger picture that I cannot yet see. I have to trust that it will all come together in the end—so far, it always has. And it encourages me to keep writing, because the experience is invaluable—not only for self discovery in the moment, but for continued personal growth in years to come!
In general, my life still feels like a roller coaster sometimes. Maybe it always will. There will always be ups and downs, exhausting climbs and exhilarating swoops and spirals. I still struggle with “silly little things” on a daily basis, but I am discovering that these things don’t define me. I am not my struggles. I am not my mental illness. I am not my mistakes. I am just me. I am on a roller coaster. And I want to enjoy the ride.
Do you keep (or have you ever kept) a journal? What has journaling taught you over the years?