One of my current favourite reads is Robert Benson's book Living Prayer. There is nothing better than having a library book surprise me by making it onto the list of books I want for my own bookshelf. One of my favourite chapters is about journalling.
I have kept journals off and on for most of my adult life. Consistently for the past 10 years. That consistency started with reading Julia Cameron's Artist's Way and a wretched burst of violence. I'm sure Julia Camerson didn't have violence in mind as a means of getting people to start writing Morning Pages but that is what it took for me. I know that she did intend for people to give birth to the creativity we all have, simply because we are created beings. I had very violent birth pangs.
It was a Saturday morning and I was having a conversation with my husband about his plans for the day. When he told me he was going to go do something for his brother instead of following through on a previous commitment for me something inside me snapped. I picked up a heavy, wooden dining room chair and threw it across the room at him. We both thank God I missed. Oh geez, I never thought this post was going to go in this direction. Anyway, after I threw the chair I realized my anger came from wanting someone else to deem me important. It's the old "pick me, pick me" story line that has harrassed me all my life. I had spent my entire married life (12 years at that point) waiting for my husband to be available so I could have a life! It had never crossed my mind that I could deem myself important. That I could pick me!
I started picking me by picking up that pen in the morning and writing out every darn feeling I had. I truly thought someone was an asshole? So be it. No more censoring myself under the guise of "what a good Christian woman SHOULD feel, think, write". There were a lot of assholes in my world for a while.
Eventually my journals became places where I recognized I was revealing myself to myself. I was not only giving birth to my creativity but was, in one sense, giving birth to me - the real me. It was a surprise some days to find out what I really thought. Some days the truth was scary and some days it was a relief. When I saw patterns of behaviour or thought I knew it was up to me to do something about it. I really wasn't in the market to see if I could win a "throw the wooden chair at life" event.
One of Robert Benson's friends commented to him one day that perhaps journalling is the deepest prayer that a writer can pray. I liked that thought. There is something about writing it all down that frees me to say to God - 'here I am - in all my humanity'. And even though in my journals I've called God an asshole, I know he'd rather I was truthful about my feeings than repress them and eventually chuck the chair at him.