My friend, Brady, writes everything down. Multiple journals, mostly hardcover with ornate designs of hearts or flowers scatter amongst her coffee table and other various areas throughout her apartment. Her purse is never without one and ink is abundant. She literally has dozens of them filled with shopping lists, to-do lists, meeting minutes, study notes from her bible time, Spanish words, things God has said to her, things she says to Him and anything else. Though I didn’t know her in her waitressing days, I can assure you that her guests never had that uneasy feeling she was going to mess up their order in her fancy attempt to memorize the entire order sans notepad. A few months ago Trevor had rotator cuff surgery at a big hospital here in the Dominican Republic, and to say the experience was a comedy-of-errors is being polite. Brady accompanied me in the hospital for moral support and we belly-laughed for days about the about the $3,000 hospital bill hand-scrawled on a receipt pad, the computer system which is not one but actually a system of spiral notebooks, and the wild-goose chase we were sent on to get change for our payment. She told me several times, “you have GOT to write this stuff down! People are never going to believe it.” When I returned to the hospital without her, she texted me, “R U writing this stuff down?”
As we rounded the last corner home on a grueling August afternoon walk, Brady says to me, “I think you should blog more.”
I hear what she says, and I have that indescribable feeling of “something” when you know that the words that were said were more than just words, and it’s more like you were just served your next orders for life. But for the moment I brushed it off like she had said something mundane like, “I think you should wear more blue,” or “I think you should take more vitamin C.” And my verbal response to her was short, and while I didn’t mean to sound offhand, I said something like, “I dunno, maybe. You and I are different and it’s easy for you to put your words out there for the world.” I got off-the-hook and she dropped the subject.
Brady writes down anything that is worthy of remembering. Memories become immortal on the pages of her journals. Whatever she is thinking, she writes. I am a writer, too, but I usually write so that I can know what it is that I am thinking. I started reading Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts, which is a memoire of one woman’s ability to find true joy through thanksgiving as she writes an ongoing list of life’s blessings. She quotes John Piper, to say, “that there are eyes in pencils and in pens.” And for me that is true, too. When I need to forgive someone that seems too unforgivable, I have found one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to write them a letter, even though I almost never send it. When I am confused on a lesson that God is trying to teach me, I start writing and thoughts that couldn’t be formulated on their own, now stand. Although I am loving her book, Ann’s concept of literally writing down your blessings is not a new one to me. I did this years ago, when I felt a temporary depression start to settle in because I was struggling with living with a blood disease. I needed God-time so I rode my watermelon-red beach cruiser to a lake near our home, and as I contemplated Philippians 4:6 which reminds us to present our requests to God “with thanksgiving” I started my own list of blessings on a yellow legal pad. It was easy to come up with them because we had just returned from a mission trip to Honduras where we witnessed some of the poorest conditions in the world. I was thankful for my dishwasher, my car, my kid’s preschool, my doctor. And there was power in my list, too. Usually I start writing about something that inspires me, and something more valuable is inevitably revealed to myself.
And I thought about Brady’s words to me about blogging. It was a dare that required courage that doesn’t come from me alone. Because when I talk, I almost always mess it up. Time after time I feel so misunderstood. “That’s not what I meant!” is a common theme. So the thought of putting words on paper, or better yet the World Wide Web, where everyone I do and don’t know can poke holes in my words and thoughts was terrifying. I wasn’t always this way. When I was in the sixth grade, I entered an essay contest for the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) on some patriotic topic. I received a gold medal and was asked to read my award-winning essay on the local AM station at some ungodly hour in the morning. I don’t think I was nervous, but I think I thought I was probably pretty awesome, and that I was most definitely some form of a local celebrity. But I had excellent training. Over the years, I spent countless hours pouring over details of proses and research papers at the kitchen table of my Grandma Sebree, who happens to be the best writing teacher I know. God has blessed me with a gift of gab, but only on paper.
While I didn’t express it fully, I accepted Brady’s “dare” and committed to more [deep breaths] blogging. And whether anyone reads what I write or not (and the fraidy cat in me secretly hopes that they don’t), it is cheap therapy for my soul.
Do you journal or blog? If so, what is the purpose?
You can read Brady’s blog here.