Reflections used to be my style to journal. Sounded more spiritual to me. Since I failed handwriting in school, seemed wiser to plunk away my thoughts on the computer at the end of the day. Lessons learned. Experiences good or bad. Better to take frustrations to God then out on others. Best of all, there have been some great faith lessons along the way. Taking the time to reflect on one chapter at a time through Bill Hybels book, Axiom, helped me to reflect on my own axioms of leadership.
When I saw that this week’s class of the Leader’s Soul in the LIFT project was on solitude and journalling, I figured I had this one nailed. Instead I was the one nailed, as in a new way to reflect, learn and grow. One reason I love taking this class is how it continues to stretch my own soul growth in helping to develop habits that provide greater depth to my soul and insight into what God is doing and wants to do in my life. This week’s class featured 4 videos and 2 handouts to read. We picked up the pace and the impact.
Mindy began by looking at keeping a journal. First she gave this affirmation, a journal is not for everyone. It might even be for a season of life. When I began “reflections” I was in the midst of a building program that was waiting on tenants to move out and city permits to come through. I needed to let go of some steam and God was big enough to not only handle it, but build me up. That’s why I continued to reflect.
So what is a journal? Mindy says a journal is “being honest with God about what is current in your life in writing.”
Why journal? 4 reasons:
1. Helps make thoughts and prayers more complete. Helps to focus on what God is saying.
2. Helps to focus on topic and speaking to God (as well as listening).
3. Serves as a spiritual record of what is going on in your life. For me taking one day a month to look back on my reflections of the month have helped me to see patterns in my life I was missing, like the rest I needed or a frustration meter running to long in the red zone. By reviewing the spiritual record I have been able to identify adjustments that need to be made.
How do you journal? Well besides either writing on computer or in a notebook, also good to:
1. Be honest. You write not to impress God or generations later who read your words, but what’s really going on in your life. Call out to God in truth. He already knows, it’s more that I need to face that truth and see His truth in my life.
2. Write about 4 areas: Record your life. Express your true self. Solve problems. Grow spiritually.
So this week I left the computer reflections behind and bought a notebook from Staples. I have been taking time in the morning and putting pen to paper. With my handwriting that makes reading challenging, but I have discovered in writing thoughts do indeed untangle themselves. The handout out this week “Write for Your Soul” was a great impetus as it provided insights and questions to the journal process. I am about 5 days into doing this, so it’s still new, but it’s also helped me to process the lessons of life in a way that I had lost typing on computer. Also, helps that I moved it to my best thinking time which is morning, then late evening when I am trying to stay awake.
For some reason as easy as it is to write on computer, my reflections had grown shorter. Writing for a half hour has been a challenge, but has led me to push deeper into some experiences and issues to seek resolution. Taking time to write out prayers of praise and petition has slowed me down to reflect more on God and what He is doing in my life. Saturday with 10 minutes to go and “nothing” to write about, I worked through my to do list and found God providing insights along the way that lightened the load and lifted my spirit.
And if learning how to journal wasn’t enough, the 2 videos on solitude lifted up a practice I have learned to appreciate the last 4 years. A day of solitude has not only been an energizer in my relationship with God, but also in my work. Key as the video points out is prepare your time and prepare your place. For myself that means bringing my Bible, a notebook and a good book to push my thinking. Ultimate goal is to connect with God in this extended time of unplugging from the grind of life and growing in the grace of God.
Another great week of the Leader’s Soul. Next class starts June 11, I encourage you to sign up here. Your soul will be glad you did (so will everybody else who knows you.) Thanks Willow for offering such a life building class!