The #1 Reason Why You Should Journal

Aug 3, 2016Find joy today

Last week I felt disconnected from my life. I hope that makes sense. I felt like I was living reactionary instead of with intention. So I dusted off my journal, and read from last year to this year in one fell swoop. Boy was it therapeutic and eye-opening.

Therein lies the #1 reason why you should journal: because it helps you uncover your growth.

I got to see my struggles with worth, weight, the future, and my fear of not having enough. When you take the time to read over the past year, you begin to uncover sweeping themes, and you can see what God has been up to all along–something you may not see in the day to day grit of life. Taken together, you see the cinema of your life, not just the episodes.

I ran across this quote in my journal dated July 25th:

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Frederick Buechner

That’s the beauty of journaling–it helps you do just that, to listen to your life.

I see how at the end of the year I wrestled against the word God seemed to be giving me: SUBTRACTION. But as I settled into it, I’m so grateful He prepared me for 2016. We’ve had a lot of subtraction. And yet, so much provision. I can honestly say God has been faithful to our family in the valleys of subtraction.

Another helpful thing I saw (besides my way-too-much tendency to fret over every living thing) was my heart. I could see me from afar, the Mary who deeply, truly, passionately loved Jesus. Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself unless you have some distance. Reading back over last year’s journal gave me that distance.

We spend so much of our lives (at least I do), berating ourselves for our missteps and sins. But what if we spent that same amount of energy cheering for us? Encouraging ourselves? Giving grace to ourselves? I would certainly be a lot happier.

So this post is a bit scattered, a bit like my life of late, but I felt compelled to share this little exercise with you. Maybe it will help you process your year and discern the things God is saying to you. I hope so.


  1. Sarah&Michael

    Thank you for the reminder, Mary. I’ve been having more of a difficult time writing lately because of my health…which has been killing me since writing has been a passion of mine since age six. Your post was a reminder that I don’t need A+ writing to pick my journal back up. Even if it’s two sentences, it can be a good reflection for a later date.

    Many Blessings,


    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, even two sentences is helpful! i hope you feel better, Sarah.

  2. Niki Hardy

    Thank you for this Mary. I so often forget to put my mind-talk onto paper, but when I do it helps me process, hear God’s voice and record for posterity the good, the bad and the ugly of life. I all too often resort to bad day journalling instead of everyday journalling. You’ve encouraged me to write everyday. Thank you. And as Oscar Wilde said “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” Amen to that! (to us Brits a diary is a journal in case you’re wondering why his calendar would be sensational!).

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love that–posterity! And I love the Oscar Wilde quote.

  3. James Watkins

    I love Buechner’s eloquence and wisdom . . . and yours. (A journal-er since 1986.)

    • Mary DeMuth

      I think I’ve been journaling since 1980! Crazy!

  4. KFDP

    Wow. I love this part: “See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.” I have a bad habit of ONLY journaling when I’m depressed. My head says ‘you’re supposed to journal daily to get the full effect’, my heart says ‘just get this junk out of my head and onto paper’ (thinking it will actually leave my head)! But you are right, looking back can be very therapeutic!

    • Mary DeMuth

      I tend to journal more when I’m sad. i think that’s pretty normal. 🙂