Editing My Journal

Today I decided to give an old devotional journal new life by removing the twenty pages at the beginning that were preventing me from using it as my next journal. This particular journal I want to reuse held some thoughts and prayers from a time period in my life that was incredibly difficult. 

Painstakingly, I sliced away each one of the pages with a razor blade so that the journal could have new life in this fresh new season. (Goodness, how I take joy in a fresh journal!)

As I finished the task, I thought…wouldn’t it be nice if we could remove, with precision, portions of our own story just as easily? If only I could edit my life and memories as easily as I edited the journal.

Edit My…Life?

There are a few things in my life that I would have rather not walked through last year. These removed pages, with sharp and ragged edges are like the scattered shards of my heart. They tell the story of depression and anxiety through scrawling black ink and tear stains. Every page is filled with longing for Jesus to come rescue me, give me wisdom, renew my mind, and most of all, to not forget me, his desperate daughter.

Those twenty abandoned pages, however troubling, are part of my story. They are what make me whole. They contain the fragments and broken pieces of my story that I am fully expecting God to restore. 

I’m not just saying the Christian thing. Well, I am – but I actually believe it! I already have seen the fruit of this season and how what the enemy intended for harm was used for my good and the good of those around me. (I just love the part of Joseph’s story when he says something similar to his brothers in Genesis 50:20. Don’t you?) 

I am continuing to experience God’s goodness as He exchanges my pain for His glory!

Sharing Stories of Freedom

Today, I found a similar story of how God turns the challenging parts of our lives into stories of His blessing in a great podcast from my friend, Myra Dempsey. (Made New Podcast: Finding Freedom and Joy in Jesus.) 

In Summer Stories Mini-Series! Episode 2: Emma’s Story, a woman named Emma shares her journey about receiving a mental health diagnosis at a young age. She explains that she used to look at the diagnosis like a curse. Yet through God’s amazing grace, she now sees it as a blessing. 

In sharing her story of relying on God’s strength and the community He placed around her, Emma has already encouraged countless people, including me. Like Emma, I am committed to living whole-heartedly, and sharing my story with others. As I do, I know the trials I have experienced that felt like a curse, God is using for blessing instead.

Reviewing My Story

I will save those twenty pages chronicling that dark time in my life. And I’ll read them again. Why? Surely not to wallow, but to celebrate God’s victory!

I think God gives us great insight into our lives through reading old conversations, scripture notes, and prayers in our devotional journals. Reading my journals again allows me to be reminded of the wonderful things He was and is doing in my life. Check out this blog I wrote about the importance of hearing, acting on, and remembering God’s words to us.

When we read our journals we find treasure in the muddy trenches. We see how God was at work and how He answered our prayers.

Of course, I read the pages I dissected from the devotional journal today. This is just one one nugget of gold I found when I was struggling to trust Jesus with my broken heart:

Me: I want freedom, Jesus.

Jesus: I know you do. So take the steps toward it.

Me: What you ask is hard.

Jesus: Not harder than crucifixion. I offered my whole self as a sacrifice. I’m asking for obedience in offering your whole heart. To trust me. I am gentle.

Me: But I still question everything. If all my pain is exposed, then all my doubts about your goodness and love will come front and center.

Jesus: So…I’m not afraid of that. Why are you?

Well friend, I can look back now and know that I obeyed as much as I was able to at the time. I offered my whole heart to Him, and my doubts truly did come front and center! But I can also say that by allowing Him into the process, and not hiding my fears or brokenness from Him, I have learned to trust Him. I have learned that God alone is good and safe and gentle.

Would I remove the dark time periods from my life if I could? No. They make me who I am today. No matter how painful the story, He has worked it for my good and His glory.

God’s Not Afraid of Your Questions

God is safe to trust with the memories you have precision removed from your life. If you’ll let Him, He wants to make something beautiful from them. God is not afraid of your questions, doubts, or fears.

Spoiler alert, He already knows, and He wants you to come to Him to get help processing them. He wants to restore, heal, and regenerate your heart as you trust Him to work everything for your good and His glory.