This is the number one reason you need to keep a journal

My typical setup

Every once in a while I’ll go back through my old journals, specifically my journals from the last 4 + years (this is also out of convenience – I can’t seem to find my older ones). This is a sometimes entertaining, but often terrifying experience. Why? Because there are times where I read the things I wrote back then, knowing what I know now, and I shake my head. “Man, this guy had no clue what was coming…”

Reading old entries feels like reading the ramblings of a stranger trying to impersonate me. All of us (hopefully) grow and change over time, but it’s a strange experience to know that I wrote those things, yet they don’t feel like me now. Looking back on my entries from three and four years ago, a few things stick out to me:

  1. I was deeply insecure… yet too afraid to admit it.
  2. I was deluding myself with certain things and people – I wasn’t willing to look at or accept hard truths. The dysfunction in some of the things going on back then is so obvious when I read them now.
  3. I was in a weak state spiritually – Going through the motions but not really going deep.
  4. My handwriting hasn’t really improved very much.
  5. I used pens a lot more back then – I’m mostly a pencil guy now.
  6. My struggles and complaints with the world of teaching are largely the same, but my current perspective is much more realistic and healthy.
  7. I was too concerned with pleasing other people and not really standing up for myself.

Thank God I am not that person today and thank God that I’ve been brought to a better place.

This is why you need to keep a journal and read old entries.

Few things can give you such a sense of not only perspective but also gratitude.

God helped bring me out of those places to where I am now, and I am so thankful that I am not who I was back then.

All of my journals from the past 4+ years

Grab a notebook, something to write with, and get started. Be painfully honest within those pages. Let it all hang out. Once you’re done writing, put it in a safe place until you’re ready to write again. Once you fill up a notebook, store it away so you can reference it later.

Here’s the most important thing to remember whenever you go back and look at old entries: KEEP GOD IN MIND.

You will see his guiding hand, his protection, his discipline, and his grace throughout the whole journey. Hold on to that perspective, and it will fill you with a sense of gratitude and awe that will stick with you. Whenever you find yourself struggling or wondering if God has you in mind, go back to those old journals. You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve actually come, or you will see things you have long ignored that you need to deal with. When you’re confronted with these things, change is inevitable. You can either learn from the past or let the same things happen over and over again.

Keep a journal. You won’t regret it.

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