Not long ago I found myself in a discussion about journaling as a method of spiritual discipline. One of the men in my class immediately rubbed at the idea of writing honest, uncensored thoughts on a page, leaving the ugly in print; concerned his wife or children would find it one day.
Cultural and generational differences between us, I do understand his point, and there are practical reasons behind his argument. But there's something deeper at work there. There's no shame in working out our salvation honestly with God, and no shame in confessed sin unless that sin is treasured, not fully given over.
My heart hurt for him; I'd love to see him free to pour out truth on a page, to get cleaned out, to be able to leave it unashamed on the grace-filled floor.
I wrote this on March 28, 2011:
I feel tired and lonely. I feel unimportant and unpleasant to be with. I feel irritable and wasteful, out of control, and turned away from You. I can't stop on my own. I am so tense, angry, frustrated, alone- desperate for a fresh, new change. So alone, so disgusted. There I am. Desperate for relief. I absolutely do not feel fully alive right now, not at all.
I have a longing, it's not filled. I know You fill it. I know You are here, so where are You? I don't know where I am. You do. Just fix it. Stop the torment, free my mind, my body, my spirit. My soul is downcast. Lift up my head.
I know a lot of things, I feel very little of the truth. Everything is overboard, in the wrong direction. You could toss it all over to the other side of lost. I'm lost in flesh and the world. Get me lost in all You are. I'm tied up in knots. I am a low psalm, I feel no good. Turn it up.
Over the last two decades, I've archived dozens of journals, and scribbled through stacks of books and Bible studies. Thousands of pages full of raw, honest vulnerability written just between me and God; but I've always kept them safe.
Someday I'll be gone and they'll stay behind. My daughters and my son can pore over the pages, read every word. They'll paint a picture of the everyday working of the Holy Spirit, a mysterious and methodical arc of transformation, shaping me up and cleaning me out. A lifetime of renovation.
I imagine them as adults, tall and mature, their own hands gliding over the pages, and I don't blush. Grace, Patience, Lily, and Hudson, you can know I wrote them for me, but I saved them for you. It is a vulnerable, weighty thing, but I want to live an outward life of such transparent devotion that when I'm gone, you will not be surprised to discover that your mother had dark nights of the soul.