It is a rare bird who likes to write things out. I don’t. This blog is a daily discipline for me…or spanking if I put it off. (Lots of those!) But, in an age where culture highlights emotion and restrains reasoning, putting your thoughts into something you can read and evaluate is invaluable.
In my counseling ministry, I give homework. Most of it requires a good deal of writing. The woman who applies herself to the task, witnesses change. The one who shirks the papers, usually persists in her bad habits with little change. Making a record of your life, thoughts, circumstances, insights and desires helps you apply truth to your days in concrete ways.
One of the hardest things to do, if you are an emotional person, is to keep a thought journal. Not a feeling journal, but a on-going record of what is “unconsciously” and comfortably happening up there in your brain. Every 30 minutes, write down, “What was I just thinking?” Nothing is too trivial. Nothing is too mundane. Nothing is too shameful. You will discover your thinking habits with time; what your brain automatically reverts to imagining when you shut off the active thinking centers. Those thoughts are what is forming the core of your character. They need to be examined in light of the gospel. To read a bit about what God says our thoughts should be, click here.
Feel like you aren’t getting everything done that you should? One way to find out how you spend your time and if there are more hours in your day than you realize, is to record your weekly schedule. For a few weeks, jot down what you did in every hour of the day. Then, evaluate where you can “redeem” the time for a more profitable or important activity. Plan out a new weekly schedule, based on your evaluated and corrected time, that you can follow to get everything done that needs to be done. Remember, 8 hours of sleep is a non-negotiable! Really. Don’t cut back on sleep to get it all done.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat… Psalm 127:2
Thoughts are often at the root of our moods. Where our thoughts go, our emotion follows. The bible says that war rages in this non-physical realm of our thoughts. It is here that we win or lose battles for our soul.
I was recently shocked to discover that for some, this notion of writing down thoughts is a complete mystery! I’m afraid I gave poor instructions because I didn’t realize it was a skill. I thought everyone could recall their thoughts! But, for so long this lady had lived by her feelings, she had no idea how to turn her feelings into a concrete statement. Simply teaching her this skill went a long way to solving her emotional problems.
When worried about a course of action, the only way to go is to write it out! Not only does it give you a record of your thought-process for later when you need to evaluate your decision, it helps you not overlook vital arguments. A simple way to start is with three columns: Pros, Cons, I need more information on this…
Another great time to put pen to paper is when reading the Bible and praying.Transferring what you read into your own words (even straight copying is beneficial!) involves visual, mental and bodily action; three different senses are involved, making the chances for recall much greater than reading alone! Asking yourself a few questions about the verse ups the recall factor even more. What does this verse say? What does it teach me about myself? What does it teach me about God? How can I respond?
A prayer journal is a great conerstone of faith. I have a terrible memory. Writing down what to pray for and how each prayer was answered helps me remember how God moves in my life. It is what keeps me praying. It is what proves prayer works.
If you are struggling in any of these areas, why don’t you go the next step and being to write?