Journaling. A therapeutic exercise recommended by counselors and mental health professionals around the globe. It is the grown-up version of keeping a diary, with or without sacred lock and key. It is the art of recording thoughts and events of each passing day or season in life. Beautifully decorated spirals with brilliantly designed covers adorn the stationery nooks of bookstores and retailers nation-wide. They are purchased with the greatest intentions, and serve as the most frequently “re-gifted” items shared among friends. They are entertaining and helpful to look back upon years later, as we reminisce and rejoice at how far we have come. We celebrate and give thanks for the answered prayers recorded over our journeys.
I do not journal; I accumulate. My scribblings are not recorded in a neatly-bound booklet with conveniently lined pages. My thoughts, both poetic and chaotic, overfill a worn, blue file folder on random scraps of paper. I have scriptures and prayers and rhymes off all kinds assembled in a mash that, to others, might be mistaken for trash. (See? I’ve still got it!)
While searching for an important document this morning, I rediscovered this worn, blue folder. It had been carefully covered in a bottom drawer, behind curtains in a spare closet… as if hiding magical secrets from the world. Should I dare open this “mash of trash” from the past? I carefully untied the fastening ribbon as the loose-leaf contents spilled out across my office floor. Joy filled my heart as one by one I read each piece. It was as if I were greeting a group of long-lost friends. I found tales of triumph and desperation, of dreams and other things. Tucked inside were poems and stories, my stories, told in both first and third person dialogues.
Toward the bottom were a few lone copies of a newsletter I published years ago. I had launched a ministry for Christian single women (appropriately named “Single Sisters”), and put out a corresponding newsletter once a month! These were the days before social media, so email and snail mail were the means of distribution. I was quite impressed with the content and design, and pondered why I ever abandoned this endeavor.
I remembered fondly my days in singles’ ministry. It was one such group at a large church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that brought me back to the Lord many years ago. I subsequently attended or founded similar ministries as I started over in new cities and churches for some time. My most successful endeavors, however, were in reaching out to Christian single women in particular. I suppose I had become an expert in the field, and could easily relate to the challenging issues this dynamic demographic frequently faced. (Incidentally, it was by starting yet another singles’ ministry in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that I met and married my soul mate, Edward. But that is another story.)
When Satan cannot thwart our mission, he will often go after our loved ones to stop us in our tracks. He went after my mother and I left all to go home and care for her, a decision I do not regret in any way, shape or form. My only regret is the ensuing bout of depression that engulfed me after her passing away. I laid down my pen and my dreams, and carefully tucked them away.
Now married four years, I have recently picked up writing again. It sometimes seems forced, but is becoming more fluid. The Lord led me to write a short booklet on finding freedom through forgiveness, that was just published in late September (Freed Bird, available on Amazon.com.) I poured it out within weeks, then sliced it and diced it like a celebrity chef cutting away the fat that was deep, personal details the world did not need to know. Out of respect for my family and my late mother, I refrained from revealing too many details of the who’s and what’s I had to forgive. It is still a good read and is helping many work through letting go of people and events from their pasts that are keeping them bound up, unable to live the joyful life of freedom that Christ died for them to have. I rushed to have it published before a slew of ministry events this Fall; hence it lacks some of the eloquence of my old newsletters. It is impactful, but my next piece will likely be more poetic.
I took a writing course years ago, and the instructor’s words remain burned in my psyche: “Find what you do; and do it well.” As I reflect back over the past 10-20 years, my life has been full to over-flowing! I have served in various forms of ministry, and moved around quite a bit as the gypsy-spirited fairy that I am. I was introduced to social media and have been “all over the place” ever since. While it serves as a great tool for communication, reconnecting, and sharing life events with friends far and near, it has all too often (for me at least) been a distraction. I need discipline, and a return to my first love: writing. It’s what I do, and have done since my first published poem in the fourth grade!
My adrenaline rose when I read those dreams and visions once jotted down in the middle of the night, and then stuffed inside that worn, blue folder. Sadly, those creative spurts inspired by the Holy Ghost have been replaced by insomnia-induced mindless scrolling, which is far more draining, and completely time wasting. Facebook, I love you! But I must limit our time together; I must be about the Father’s business, using the gifts and passions He put in my heart.
What about you? What are your talents and dreams? What is your vision and passion? I pray that we all may find discernment and strength to eliminate all that separates us from our purpose.
Find what you do; and do it well!