Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Best Christmas Ever: The Sacred Blessing of Journals!

Yesterday may have been my best Christmas ever. It was certainly one of the least materialistic - very little focus on "stuff" and more on service and family ties. At the end of the day, the real highlight was the time we spent reading from a truly precious gift that we received from my wife's mother, a booklet of text and photos called The Life Stories and Love Story of Floyd and Doreen Larson. It began with a transcribed recording that my recently deceased father-in-law made for his Doreen on Mother's Day in 1974, recounting the story of their courtship and married life together, and expressing his feelings for her. There was such tenderness and respect for her in his words, and so much implicit in the stories he recalled. I was humbled at his example of true manhood, and so pleased that my teenage boys were being exposed to more of the soul of that great man. They were touched, as was I, and learned more about respecting women in that short time than in a dozen lessons at Church.

The numerous details of their lives that he wove together reflected the treasury of information he had kept in his journals. What a rich blessing it was for us to relive some of his experiences and have the richness of detail that comes from dedicated journal keeping.

I hope more of you will start keeping journals and put your stories and thoughts into writing.

Not only do journals provide a rich blessing to your posterity, but the practice of journal keeping reminds you frequently that your life is being recorded and will be reviewed and scrutinized one day. That can help you in making more careful choices. And reviewing your own writings can help you learn from the mistakes of our past. I think there is something about journal writing that helps the human soul seek to be more responsible and more concerned about the long-term consequences of our choices.

7 comments:

Richard K Miller said...

Likewise, one of the best gifts I received was a printed and bound copy of my grandparents' mission journal. Their mission was 30 years ago. I'm looking forward to reading about it.

Anonymous said...

But the journals need to be honest. I had been keeping a journal since a high-school creative writing class where it was an assignment. My teacher said that EVERYTHING should go into a journal: good, bad and ugly. She also said that you can have that freedom since nobody should ever see your journal.

After I joined the church, my bishop asked about me and I mentioned I had a journal. He said that I should only write faith-promoting stuff in there, since I was obligated to share it with others. Huh? The dichotomy was too much for me, and I stopped writing.

But, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with writing down all manner of material. It should be private. Personal thoughts and experiences are just that: personal.

Casual Jeff said...

Fascinating.

I've never kept a real, honest to goodness journal. Goofy blog posts on myspace will have to suffice, I suppose.

anonymous, you can always keep two journals. One can be "raw and uncut", the other can be a spiritual log of sorts. Or you can take your bishop's advice as a nice but misguided suggestion and continue your journal as is. I'm sure in a generation or two, your kids and grandkids will love reading about your experiences--even if some of those experiences aren't the most faith-promoting.

That's it. I've convinced myself. Time to start a real journal.

Anonymous said...

Even when I choose to keep some of the "ugly" out of my journal, daily writing helps me realize what is important and where my focus should be. While writing in my journal I find myself meditating and reviewing the day in my mind. I may not record a particular sin or trangression, but when I am writing in my journal those mistakes come to mind and I feel inspired to improve.

I definately agree that keeping a journal helps you realize the importance of making right choices.

Barb said...

What a wonderful and precious gift!

Anonymous said...

But I think its important to record bad stuff in your journal. If it is supposed to be an honest record of your life, you need to have the stuff you would rather forget. It is intellectually dishonest to portray life as sunshine and lollipos.

Mormanity said...

Take the Book of Mormon as an example. The sunshine and lollipops era of 200 years gets a couple pages. The grit and nastiness of mortality gets all the press.

Of course, we don't learn much about the mistakes made by the writers. Maybe Nephi was a real pain growing up and has glossed over how much he annoyed Laman and Lemuel. But it's rare for humans to see themselves from someone else's perspective.