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?

journal 3

Yes, I did say “journal shelf”.  Because in full disclosure…

journal shelf

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

9 thoughts on “Document

  1. I love to keep a journal!! I’m currently using a hardback notebook. However, I used the Day One app for Mac for several years. It took a little time to get used to it, but I grew to love it. In fact, I’m going to go back to using it along with a notebook. I want a tangible notebook for my children, once I’m gone. I don’t know how accessible an online version will be down the road? What I like about the Day One app is that I can add tags and quickly search for keywords. I also type faster than I write. I don’t necessarily think it should be done in a hurry, but sometimes I just don’t have the time! And I don’t like to let too many days pass between entries. I love the verse you chose from Jeremiah. Our stories ARE words from God!

    1. An online version of journaling would certainly cut down on shelf space! For me, there’s something therapeutic about having pen in hand and letting the thoughts flow onto the paper. It has to be just the right kind of pen, but that’s another issue altogether! Nice to hear from you, Gina!

      1. Ha ha! I’m the same way! I’m choosy about my pens. 🙂 I’ve even been experimenting with brush pens and lettering. I add the occasional quote or scripture that way. I agree, writing by hand is ideal for me too.

  2. Good Morning! I found your blog on the Hope*Writers Facebook Page, and I gotta say…
    I haven’t gone to the extreme of collecting journal books, but I love documenting my life, and mostly what I feel the Lord is speaking to me. I do have various notebooks laying around that I find and read through at times.

    This post made me think of the very first blogger, before it was called blogging.

    Doogie Houser. I think that is how he spelled it.

    Come a long way since he documented his everyday life, haven’t we? LOL

    I followed you on WordPress. I look forward to reading more from you!
    God Bless!

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