A writer’s beginning
My grandmother gifted me a daily diary when I was in elementary school. It was a little blue book with lined pages. The diary had a lock with a tiny key. I was able to record my daily activities and freely express my thoughts and feelings all safe from prying sibling eyes. My love for writing began with that little blue daily diary.
Over the years, off and on, I would keep a journal. I never really developed a daily discipline for writing. Recording my simple daily tasks was tedious, and more truthfully, it became too difficult to bear my soul in writing. My friend, Mary once said that if you put it in writing you can never take it back. She was actually referring to writing letters, but it was still true for me when it came to my journal. There seemed to be more pain than pleasant thoughts.
Although I wrote sporadically over the years, I didn’t return to writing until I lost my dream job in the late summer of 2009. The loss of my career was a direct result of the collapse of the U.S. economy. It wasn’t just my career I believed I lost. It was the loss of my identity (so I thought). I did not realize then how much of my identity I had put on a job title. I look back on that period of my life and I am ashamed of my bitter reaction toward the loss of my career, retirement and financial assets. I was angry. At the time, I was 48 years old, married with two sons in middle school and high school. No one wanted to hire me (or anybody else for that matter, but I took it personally); I felt completely alone. Yet, my financial loss was minuscule compared to so many others. My husband never lost his job and his employer provided generous medical benefits. We didn’t lose a house. My family was healthy. We had food to eat and clothes to wear. We were more fortunate than others during this economic time.
Writing my way through it
To put my spiritual life in a context, I was baptized, confirmed, and raised in the Lutheran church of the Missouri Lutheran Synod. In my late teens and early twenties, I briefly belonged to the Baptist church. Then I drifted. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I arrived back on the doorstep of the Lutheran church. Eventually, in my early thirties, I would meet my husband, who was raised and schooled in the Catholic Church. Non-committed to Catholicism, he converted before our marriage. Our two sons were baptized, confirmed, and went to a Lutheran elementary school and have since graduated from a public high school and they are now in college. My husband and I have always been active in the church.
Yet when adversity strikes, we often strike back to those who love us and to the one who loved us first – God. I was not any different in this regard. In my struggle in my present circumstance, my mind spun with troubled emotions and what the future held. It was reading Scripture, endless praying, and writing my way through it that I found my spiritual gifts and true identity.
Finding my identity
My prayer journals are and continue to be my written pilgrimage of who I am. An uncovering and recovering of a little girl abused, lost, and carrying wounds so deep from repressed memories that only now can I know whose child I really am. My identity is not in a job or even in a particular Christian denomination, I am a child of God and my identity alone is in Jesus Christ.
My prayer journals serve as a map of where I have been and how God has helped me along the way. I can look back now on how the Lord’s unchangeable nature has carried me throughout the years. And when I am in a current crisis, I can look back and recall how He has answered my prayers and the specific guidance the Holy Spirit gave me.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
Since 2009, I am now working in my own business. While I may never be where I was financially prior to 2009, our bills are paid. Without being disrespectful to those who lost so much more than I in the U.S. financial crisis, I am grateful that it “broke” me. If not for losing my career, I may never have recognized my spiritual gifts or where I belong.
In addition to my daytime job, I do freelance writing, mentoring others in their spiritual gifts, and lead journal writing classes. In my “Draw near to God” class, I teach others how to pray the Scriptures.
“I sought the Lord, he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5
“(My) heart will be where (my) treasure is.” Matthew 6:21
“Now faith is being sure of what (I) hope for and certain of what (I) do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
I help my class participants develop a daily discipline of writing, praying for others, and finding their own spiritual voice through writing exercises.
“What would it mean to me personally if Jesus wasn’t with me every day?
“What can I accomplish today if I knew Jesus was at my side 24/7?
The Prayer Journals
The Prayer Journals is an extension of my prayer journal class, “Draw Near to God.” As Christians, and those who would like to “draw near,” I pray you will follow this blog. By keeping a prayer journal, you will remember how Jesus has provided for you personally and protected you. So when the next adversity strikes, you can read Scripture, pray, and write your way through it.
Blessings on your prayer journey!