Most Mornings, I Journal

800 Words | by Liz | Sent February 26, 2018

Most mornings, I journal.

It’s usually the first thing I do once my brain is awake, even though it takes me about 30 minutes to get there.

At 5:45am, my alarm goes off and I hit snooze. At 6:07, I roll out of bed, although every part of my body tells me to stay. I stumble to the kitchen with sleepy eyes and tired limbs and put the kettle on to boil. I choose a coffee mug, cover it with the porcelain pour over, slide a cone-shaped filter inside, run my finger along the crease to hold it open, shake out a random amount of coffee grounds, and sit on my counter until the water is ready. In all of this, my brain is slowly turning on. I don’t rush it; I move slowly. Sometimes I sit with eyes closed while the water is heating. To rush my brain’s awakening will mean a grumpy, frazzled disposition for the rest of the day.

When my brain reaches 70%, I start reading. Not my Bible (not yet), because I want my brain to be a little more alert for that. I’ll pull out whatever book I’m reading at the time to help my brain shake off the sleep and start awakening itself to the world of intelligence.

By the time I’ve walked from my bed to the kitchen, made coffee, sat on the counter, and read a few pages, I either sit up in bed or curl up on the couch and journal.

For me, journaling is easy and not pretty. It’s handwritten and it doesn’t flow well (God forbid anyone actually read it). The sentences are simple and sometimes not even grammatically correct. Journaling is quite literally a way to externally process. Thoughts tumble out of my head at random.

Journaling is praying and processing. It’s noticing where I am in a moment in time and giving thanks for little things. It’s confessing sin and asking the Lord hard questions for which I might not get an answer right away. It’s saying things that no one else knows and taking notes about what I’m learning or noticing in Scripture.

Words get scratched out, lines are skipped, pages are blank. Sometimes they're filled with ink and scribbles and random lists. Sometimes they contain a single word. When I journal, I don’t try. I don’t think about what I’m writing. I just write whatever falls out of my head. My journal is the messy space to confess sin and ask hard questions and write bulleted lists when my brain goes down a rabbit hole. Journaling is dry and scattered and important.

But writing.

Writing is different.

Writing is sacred. It’s art. It’s a space all on its own.

Writing is something I’m both terrified and delighted to approach. It intimidates and beckons.

Because writing is so much. It contains the potential for unspeakable beauty. The words can cause your breath to catch in your throat and goose bumps to rise on your arm. It swells and stings and softens.

Good writing has the potential to be huge, larger than life, ground shifting - but it only explodes with meaning and purpose when the writer goes small. When every word is chosen (or not chosen) for a reason. When every punctuation mark conducts a rhythm that carries the words. Every elements matters – not just the words, but the commas, the paragraph breaks, the prepositional phrases, the independent clauses. Every piece has the potential for power, and every piece can be layered together, in infinite combinations, to create, well, anything.

The power and possibility with writing is thrilling and terrifying. It makes me want to throw myself into it and never stop. It also makes me want to walk away from the craft forever because I’ll never master it - ever. The depths of possibility are endless. Writing is never done, it’s never finished, it can always be changed. And because writing lives in this never-finished state, it discourages one from ever wanting to start in the first place.

But we do start. We try and fail and write things. And are they good? Maybe. Honestly, that’s up to everyone and only you at the same time. We write because the process of creating something that illustrates what we feel, how we see, and why we live is the most exhilarating experience of our lives.

So journaling and writing both involve words. They both draw me into deeper intimacy with the Lord. But they are different.

For me, journaling is just saying words. And this, indeed, has its place.

But writing is saying the best words, in the best way -- or trying to. To write is to experience the delight of knowing what you want to create and the agony of not quite knowing how to create it. It’s the deep ache of knowing what you want to say but not being able to say it. You can’t explain how to get there, but you’ll know when you’re there.

Elizabeth Moore