My Prayer Jumping Back Into Journaling by Niki Mallinak Before I was Confirmed, my sponsor handed me a beautiful journal she had decorated herself. Behind the hand-written note of introduction, all the empty pages were begging to be filled with beautiful ideas, and I was itching to be the one to write them. While the journal wasn’t filled with perfect words like I first dreamed, it was filled. Five months later, I made the Sacrament and wrote one last entry on the final page. What was it about that book that made me fly through it – and five more since then, as well? Journaling is a form of self-reflection that allows you to see your thoughts on paper, and even begin to understand why you might view things the way you do. It’s not so much a matter of logging what you do every day as it is a consideration of what you’re feeling – how you’re dealing with it, goals you pursue spiritually, moments you feel at your best, and even moments you feel at your worst. Writing it out can bring you peace and give you perspective. A journal also affords you the wonderful opportunity to see how you’ve grown; while it’s not good to frequently dwell on the past with regret, it is good to look back at how far you’ve come with gratitude. When you write how you feel, what you struggle with, and how you’ve advanced, you can always flip back and see the progress you’ve made. You might see patterns of things you need to work on, or you might notice some strengths you didn’t know you had. The journal itself doesn’t matter – I know I use them so quickly, that I’m not apt to spend too much time on the cover. Some, I buy blank and write a special Bible verse on the front. But others, like my first, are beautifully designed. If you know you’re more apt to write in something that feels special, then take some time to choose. If you’re only eager to write, then make sure you get one filled with enough paper! Some have bible verses printed on the top of each page, others have quotes or places to specify a date – whatever works for you is what will make your journal the best it can be! When you’re ready to try, you might wonder where to start. Sometimes the ideas flow freely, but other days they don’t seem to come at all; that’s perfectly okay! Here’s a list of a few of my favorite starters – some questions to answer and some ideas to explore about yourself: Satisfying Self-Reflections 1. My patron Saint is… Why? 2. One thing I admire in a friend who I look up to is… 3. I feel most at peace when… 4. My favorite prayer is… Why? 5. This year I did [what] that I never thought I would… 6. I look most forward to [what] in the future. Why? 7. I contribute to my community by… 8. I contribute to my church by… 9. The most meaningful compliment I’ve been given is… Why is it so special? 10. Two things I am good at are… 11. And I can serve God with them by… Sunny Subjects 1. I am grateful for… 2. I’ve recently grown in my faith by… 3. One thing I want to share with others is… 4. One way I’m going to serve someone else this week is… 5. My biggest unexpected blessing this year has been… 6. On person who has helped me grow is… 7. And I am grateful for them because… 8. A favorite quality of mine is… 9. I feel most like myself when I… Tough Times 1. Sometimes I feel upset with [who] because… 2. I find it difficult to forgive [who] because… 3. In school, I struggle most with… 4. In community, I struggle most with… 5. One thing to remind myself when I feel alone is… 6. The people who best listen when I need an ear are… 7. And how does their love make me feel? 8. Have I ever payed this forward, and been there for others in turn? 9. I struggle to talk about… because I feel… 10. It hurts when people tell me I… 11. Is it true? If so, can I become better? If not, how can I encourage myself instead? Dry Days 1. I feel the closest to God when… 2. I feel most distant from God when… 3. Am I still praying as I used to? Why or why not? 4. If so, are there any special prayers I should pick up? 5. If not, what will I do to change that, and continue any practices I had begun during fruitful days? 6. I am thankful that God still loves me even when… 7. When I don’t feel God is close, the first thing I do is… 8. And does this help me? 9. If not, a better idea to try might be… 10. Every day, I can be reminded of God by… Challenges for Changing 1. In what ways have I most improved myself this past month? Year? 2. A spiritual goal I hope to set is… 3. What would I tell myself one year ago? 4. One thing I struggle to believe is… 5. How can I combat this struggle, if I know the truth? 6. If I don’t know the truth, how can I get an answer? 7. If I could change one thing about me, what would it be? 8. Do I focus more on appearances or what’s inside? Why? 9. Do I take enough time to be by myself? To be with God? Family? Friends? 10. One adjective I would use to describe me is… am I pleased with that? Thoughtful Things 1. If I could ask God one question, I would ask… 2. When I look at myself, the first thing I think is… 3. If this is a negative thought, what can I say to myself instead? 4. If this is a positive thought, how can I begin to encourage others as I have been uplifted? 5. If I could ask for anything from God, it would be… Why? 6. I often find my mind drawn to… Is this thing (or person) godly? 7. If not, what can I think of instead? 8. Do I remember to thank God for every day, every blessing? 9. If not, I can work on this by… 10. My favorite blessing from God is… No matter where you start, as soon as you find something that really works for you, go with it! It might not lead to where you thought you would end, but it can take you someplace even better, too. Even everyday occurrences can be the perfect place to begin; and the real fruit of journaling will start to come when you do just that: begin. For more on starting a journal, check out this blog as well.