Is it really a good idea to document your whole life?
Is it good/bad/creepy/entirely too introspective that when I had a memory last night I knew immediately where to go on the journal shelf in my bedroom, pull out the volume from November 2004, open it up, and read all about it?
Yes, I did say “journal shelf”. Because in full disclosure…
This is my journal shelf. And that’s only starting with 1996. Because the spiral bound notebooks I used prior to that are in a box. Under my bed. Suffice it to say, I journal. A lot. Random thoughts, prayers, quiet time notes, rants. That’s pretty much my whole adult life documented there. And I’ve thought seriously about making sure they get buried with me when I die.
But back to the question at hand. Is it a good idea to document your life?
I think it is. And it’s not just because I do it. I think it’s good to remember, to read back through the great times and the not-so great times. It’s good to see God’s faithfulness when I was on spiritual mountaintops and when I was trudging through dry valleys.
That memory last night that made me go looking for the old journal? This time of year always makes me think of when I got some bad news about a friend who had wandered away from God. My heart got hurt in the process and I struggled to make sense of it. That journal documents the questions, the sadness, the concern. It doesn’t document the restoration. I’m still praying for that. But reading through it, and seeing those other 30 journals on the shelf, I realized that God has been faithful to me. In this situation, and a zillion others.
It would be easy to forget that if I hadn’t written it all down. Memories fade after awhile. The details get fuzzy. Today, this snippet of time, is so easily forgotten. And maybe God’s presence in it is easily forgotten, too. We move on. We get engaged in other things. But if we never take the time to remember how God has gotten us through the past, how will we know to trust Him in the future?
Jeremiah writes, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you”. (30:2)
And so, I do. I write them in a book. God has spoken to me through His word, through the wise counsel of the people He’s put into my life, through His kind provision and sometimes even through His merciful withholding. And because I’ve documented it, I see it. I know it. I believe it.
Thirty-plus journals on a shelf in my bedroom may be on the extreme end of things, but I need to keep them there to remind myself of this:
Documenting how He’s been faithful in my past makes it easier to trust Him with my future.
And that is definitely a good thing.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations. Psalm 119:90
Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. Psalm 105:5
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Psalm 103:2
I will remember the works of the Lord. Psalms 77:11
Bind them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 7:3