Yesterday I heard a talk that reminded me of the importance of journal writing. The speaker told us that we could easily learn how a decision turned out for someone in the scriptures by reading ahead and seeing what happened. In our own lives, we have to have faith and just do what we feel we are supposed to do. He reminded me of why we are encouraged in our church to keep a journal. By keeping a journal, we can look back at our own decisions later and see how things turned out - somewhat like our own set of scriptures for our lives. It also gives our children the chance to learn from those trials we've been through, as we can share our journals with them if they are interested. One of the greatest parts about keeping a journal is that it gives future generations a chance to know about what went before - what did we think about during a certain period of history as it was happening, what gave us joy or sorrow, or simply what mattered enough to be written down. In writing a journal, I can appreciate why so little detail is given to explain particular individuals or places in the scripture stories - after all, who thinks to explain their own circumstances in such detail? It helps me also understand that the main lessons of value in life have nothing to do with what clothes were worn, what cars were driven, or what new fad diet was all the rage. What matters in life are the joys and sorrows, the experience gained from how those are handled, and how we use the wisdom gained from that experience.
And as for anyone who thinks "When can I find the time to write a journal?" I recall the words of Randy Pausch on the subject. Saving important emails, calendars, and other such devices (writings on a blog, anyone?) can serve just as well as writing in a personal journal. What email you save shows a lot about what matters, and having it later can be just as helpful in recalling matters of importance. After all, quite a few books of the New Testament were letters written on matters of importance to a person or a group. So, if I sometimes write things that seem awfully personal on my blog, it is because this blog is as much a journal of what matters to me as anything else. It is not carved onto metal plates or into stone tablets, there is no parchment carefully crafted from animal skin, but all the same, it is my statement to the world of who I am and what matters to me.