It’s 6am. The coffee is brewed and the house is silent. The words fly onto the page with a fury that barely makes sense. For me, this is prayer. My best conversations with God have always involved a pen and a notebook. Over the years, these notebooks have captured the stories of my life: lost loves, financial turmoil, lost babies, arguments, frustration, fear, determination, and survival. They have shared memories of tender times, soft moments, and silent tears.
Capturing these moments, always carries raw emotion, when the writing initially starts, but as it progresses, there is clarification. Solutions are identified and sometimes it has prevented me from taking the wrong path while other times it has offered me forgiveness for being impulsive. In the quiet, writing allows the inner voice to be heard, allowing the exterior layers to be pulled back, revealing our true self.
Journaling is private; to be shared only if one chooses to do so; providing the opportunity to write freely about life, feelings, or something specific. The result is a powerful release of emotions and health benefits of strengthening the immune system by increasing the T-cells, which protect the body. Journaling reduces symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis; allowing for both sides of the brain work together to create solutions. Stress levels are decreased because writing increases our awareness of ourselves allowing us to release the barriers that difficult emotions and past experiences hold over us. In the movie, Shrek, the line went “Ogres are like onions, they have layers.” The same can be said about humans. Writing helps us to acknowledge and accept or change each one.
Journaling does not have to make sense or follow a logical structured path. It is an honest conversation between you and your Higher Power. Spelling and grammar do not matter. Some people feel they have to do it every day. For me, it is when I feel stressed and pressured, when life is overwhelming. It is learning to trust yourself without judgement; creating a space of personal acceptance. However, when safety is an issue seek professional and community help. Know that you are not alone. There are resources to help you through difficult emotions and situations.
Some people feel that they are afraid to write for fear of others reading the entries. My response has always been write and then tear it up. The important concept is to begin to form the relationship with yourself and your Higher Power as it builds confidence, personal freedom, insight, and trust. It prevents the loss of personal control as it allows you to identify emotions and what is triggering them.
Looking back, journaling has recorded my life moments and answered prayers. I have seen my life transitions through the stories I have written. God and I have had many cups of coffee over the notebooks and pens; shared many tears; and many prayers of thanks. It has probably been the best gift I have ever given myself. As the year closes and a new one begins, my wish for you is to spend some time in a Conversation with God writing your story; peeling back your layers; and getting to know the real you.
– Michele Dubel, MSOL, MHN
Michele Dubel is a Wellness Educator and author; certified Arthritis Foundation exercise and self-help trainer with nearly two decades of experience as a geriatric and stress management specialist. She is has a Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership, Geneva College; a Master’s in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health; and a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Slippery Rock University.
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