Top 10 Reasons for Journal Keeping

I can’t find my journal. *Poof!* Just like that, I am unable to find part of my life. (And I was pretty pleased with some of the things that I had recorded, too!)

So in the interim, while I decide to keep looking, or to just forget it and find a new one, I’ve decided to compile a list of reasons why journals are so fantastic!

1. “Angels may quote from it”

In a talk by President Spencer W. Kimball, (Ensign, October 1975) he stated, Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.  That was an idea that really struck me when I was a young girl.  The entire talk is worth a read. Here is another thought from that talk that I love –

No one is commonplace, and I doubt if you can ever read a biography from which you cannot learn something from the difficulties overcome and the struggles made to succeed. These are the measuring rods for the progress of humanity.

As we read the stories of great men, we discover that they did not become famous overnight nor were they born professionals or skilled craftsmen. The story of how they became what they are may be helpful to us all.

Your own journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.

2. “O Remember, Remember”

In a talk by President Henry B. Eyring, General Conference, October 2007, he discussed the fact that one of the problems with mankind is that they continually forget the Lord and the wonderful things that He has done for them.  He stated that one way to remember is to write down the experiences that you have daily.  President Eyring talked about a time when he had a spiritual impression to write down an experience that he and his family had just had. He stated:

I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done. 

3. Shows where you’ve been

Going back to old journals gives you a memory of where you have been and helps others to relate.  One day, (not so very distant from today) my girls will go through junior high.  They will have heartbreaks and crushes and silliness.  When they open my journal, they will see that I did too, and though I thought that my heart would break from unrequited love from that skater guy – Brent, something-or-other, I survived, things got better.  And hey, at the end of it all, I really did have a vibrant testimony then. 🙂

4. Can give revelation for the future

Years ago, when I was doing poorly in college, I got a blessing.  It told me to start focusing on my calling in life which would be to be a teacher of the Youth of Zion and even of the World. Twice it referenced this in my journal.  Typically, I record impressions from blessings, and I like to go back later and review the blessings and see how they came to pass.  In this case however, I thought, “well my poor Dad, he probably just got the revelation wrong” because, you see, I was going to be an Elementary School teacher.  So I wrote, “You are called to be a teacher of the Children of the World” two times.

After a day or so, I got a very strong impression from the Spirit.  It stated, “I didn’t say that.  You go back and write down what I said.”  “Okay,” I thought as I whited-out the words and wrote the words from the blessing over the top, “I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but whatever…”.  About seven years later, I pulled out the journal and showed my seminary students the whited-out words, and testified about the sacred priesthood power of Father’s blessings.

5. A place to record your spiritual learning

Nephi kept the small plates, they were a record of his learning.  He taught us about going and doing, about promised land, the tree of life, the covenants of the House of Israel, and the great words of Isaiah. And that’s just part of 1st Nephi!

Nephi desired to learn and know what his father and the prophets knew.  He recorded his testimony and his learning to teach others to come unto Christ.  Nephi teaches us that we can learn all of those things too.

For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round (1 Nephi10:19).

What better place is there to write down the things of God, that the Spirit teaches us, than in our journals?

6. Place for special events

Isn’t  it sad that we don’t have the actual date of the First Vision.  All we have is Spring 1820.  I have to wonder if the date just wasn’t recorded.  We have the approximate time and the year, so maybe it doesn’t matter, but the principle that I’m getting at is the importance of writing things down –  thoughts, ideas, impressions, and details.  How precious are the experiences of mortal life, especially the sacred or special ones?  I wrote down impressions about my daughters right before they were born.  Those thoughts take me back to the pregnancies and how wonderful those experiences were.

7. The scriptures are journals – God’s dealings with man

Nothing less.  What a blessing to see how the Lord works through men, women, and children.

Remember the scripture – And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! (Numbers 11: 29).

And another scripture on this topic that I love – And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit (Joel 2:28-29).

We have been promised that revelation will come, line upon line, and that all we need to do is ask and seek.  Remember –  knock and it shall be opened unto you?  So just as the scriptures are a record of God’s dealings with man, your journal can be a record of God’s dealings with you.

8.  A place to work out your thoughts and feelings

Knowing that my journals could be read by others, I’ve tried to keep them uplifting, however here is no better place to work out struggles and deep inner thoughts and frustrations than in a journal.   Look at Nephi’s Psalm –

 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities (2 Nephi 4: 17, see also 16-35).

It’s amazing to look through your life to see patterns, and cycles, and personal growth.

9. Snapshot in time

When I was very young, sometimes, my mom would sit us down on Sundays and have us draw pictures and write down what we were thinking or feeling.  It is so precious to me to look at those few pages.  On one page, I talked about my mean brother Karl-Heine and how he flipped rubber bands at me and wouldn’t let me watch my favourite Mr. Roger’s programme (my mother is British).  I loved that she wrote exactly what I said and I resolved to do the same things for my children.

I have large notebooks that serve as scrapbooks and journals.  I’ve written about them (what they were like as babies) and what they’ve said.  I’ve included pictures (I took a picture of them each month during their first year of life so that we could see how they’ve grown), their artwork, blessings, impressions, etc.  They LOVE to look through the books, and I know it will be something even more special for them as they get older.

10. Writing teaches you more

In several talks in the past few years, Elder Richard G. Scott has discussed the important process of recording our spiritual impressions, and that when we do, more information will come to us.

Here is a quote from a devotional talk given at BYU Campus Education Week on 1 August 2007  – 

Write down in a secure place the important things you learn from the Spirit. You will find that as you record a precious impression, often others will come that you would not have otherwise received. Also, the spiritual knowledge you gain will be available throughout your life. Always, day or night, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, seek to recognize and respond to the direction of the Spirit. Have available a piece of paper or a card to record such guidance.

And from a talk in General Conference, Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, October 1993

Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. That practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light.

I know that recording Spiritual impressions strengthens and deepens our love of God and our testimony of Him.  I know that He will teach and guide, through the Holy Spirit, anyone that truly seeks Him and that one of the best places to go for more knowledge about Him is through the scriptures, the living prophets,  and those who live their lives to be in tune with His ways.

JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – Story Truth

Several years ago, I got an article from a friend called “Stories within Stories: Finding God in The Lord of the Rings,” by Jim Ware (written for Focus on the Family, December 2001).  I’ve held onto it over the years because it spoke to me.

It begins discussing the relationship between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien (Professors from the Magdalen College, Oxford circa 1931).  They were talking about how amazing trees are, and how the word ‘tree’ falls short of expressing what a majestic thing a tree is.

Tolkien said, “Just as a word is an invention about an object of an idea, so a story can be an invention about truth.”

Now I quote from the article, “Their long talk about symbols and verbal inventions was just the beginning. Through the years, Lewis and Tolkien spent long hours refining their ideas and incorporating them into literary art in order to find ways of pouring the steaming, bubbling, heady stuff of the Real Story [that of the Savior – the Christian story] into molds of their own invented stories.”

The author discusses CS Lewis stating; “Lewis made no secret of his intentions.  He once asked himself, reflecting on the nature of God, the sufferings of Christ and other fundamental Christian truths: Supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? This, he said, is exactly what he was trying to do in the Chronicles of Narnia.

About Tolkien, he wrote to a friend saying, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Christian work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in revision.”  Ware went on to quote from Tolkien’s authorized biographer, Humphrey Carpenter,  who stated that Tolkien’s work is that of a very religious man and that God is essential to  everything that happens in LOTR.  “Without Him, Middle earth couldn’t exist.”

Finally, the author finishes with the following: “A late night in the spring [1931] …, Lewis’ sitting room is strewn with papers books, and empty teacups, Lewis yawns and stretches.  “Tollers,” he says as Tolkien gets up to leave, “There is too little of what we like in stories.  I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.” ”

I couldn’t agree more!!!