Recently, I’ve begun sorting through various possessions in my home. I’ve sent car loads to the trash, boxes upon boxes to donation, and organized materials that I can’t part with yet.
Granted, I’ve only done this in two rooms but it feels like a lot. Currently, I’m working my way through room three — which happens to host a very special drawer.
Okay, so the drawer isn’t exactly special but its contents are. This single drawer, which happens to be pretty large, contains almost every journal page holding record of my thoughts, prayers, and other miscellaneous life details. One journal was lost on the side of his highway and I’m sure I’ve misplaced one or two dozen pages in school notebooks but generally I was pretty good about keeping these pages together.
I started keeping a journal in 1997 and I haven’t stopped the process since. There were times when life was busy or I was lazy so I have nothing recorded for several months but I always went back to the process.
In my current purging process, I’m flipping back through those old pages and separating the special words that God had spoken. I’m doing this so I can more clearly see a pattern of things that He’s spoken into my life.
Of course, it’s not just His words that I have recorded. There’s a lot of my own throw in there. This is both humorous and extremely embarrassing. Clearly, 7th-9th grade were angst ridden for me! The later years were not much better.
Sure, there were victorious pages and happy memories but there were also a lot of worries, needless stressing, and face-smacking, head-hanging ridiculousness.
I’ve only made it as far as 2004 at the time of this post but I’ve several thing to say to my younger self —
- Chill out on the boy-crush front!
- It’s not as bad as it seems.
- You’re not as alone as you feel.
- Seriously, you won’t even remember half the people you worry about!
I might also need to add something about needing to make sure to write in complete sentence because so much doesn’t even make sense! Oh, and good spelling is important.
Also, to all my friends —
I’m so sorry! If I was half as angst ridden and whiny in life as I was in my journals, I love you more than you could possibly imagine. Already, my journal pages are laced with prayers for you but seriously, I think I need to pray even greater blessings on you if you ever had to listen to all that!
To some of my friends, I could write whole posts and not come close to expressing how much I still love and cherish you. I miss you but that’s a topic for another day.
Despite feeling terribly embarrassed at my writings, I am learning through this experience. In no particular order —
Five life lessons learned flipping through forgotten journal pages —
God is the best listener.
Page upon page starts in much the same way, “I know I’m being selfish but…” Just reading me I want to quit but God never did. He listened to ever worry about boys, school, boys, my future, boys, friendships, family, and boys. Yes, there has been a lot of boy talk. Oy! However, more than 20 years and almost 14 journals later, He’s still listening to me. He’s still speaking (when I let Him). He’s still working to answer my prayers in His own way and in His own time.
God has His own ways of working.
After reading some of my childish solutions, I’m so glad God didn’t work the ways I wanted Him to. Although the answers may not have been quick in coming, He’s answered so many of my prayers in His best way.
Even stuttered attempts to grow in Christ can be labeled successes.
If I’d have given up all the times I said I was going to, well, my life would look a lot different. Thankfully, God hears my give-ups but still remains patiently waiting for me. And while I’m incredibly thankful to Him for not giving up on me, I’m thankful to that childish me who didn’t give up on God. I may have fallen off the wagon a few times but I continued to try to seek Him. I will have times when I feel like a failure or like I let Him down but as I read through the pages, I’m reminded that it’s not about always getting it right — it’s about trying. Trying over and over and over again has produced results in my life today that would not have been possible if I had quit even one of the times I said I was going to.
Listening well produces better results.
The pages that are filled with victories are also the pages that are preceded by my listening to God and Godly influences. The angst ridden ones have nothing but my own thoughts, doubts, and worries ahead of them. Listening to positive, life-affirming, faith-growing wisdom is always a better option than listening to the lies the enemy fills our mind with.
God timing is better than mine.
As with #2, if God had worked when I wanted Him to, well, I’m pretty sure things wouldn’t have turned out like they did.
Today, as I worry and stress about the future, purpose, and finding my own voice, these pages remind me to take a step back, listen a little better, and relax.
God’s got it under control.