“Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity,” advises President Spencer W. Kimball.
He has urged all members of the Church to keep a personal journal. He himself has rows of journal notebooks on his bookshelf, journals that he has kept for most of his life. When called in 1973 to be president of the Church, he had filled thirty-three black binders.
Even if you are too young to be able to write yet, you can keep a journal with the help of your parents. Have your mom or dad or another family member write down what you know about your family, friends, favorite toy or pet, Primary class, or something you have done. Tell about your feelings and what you think and what makes you happy or sad.
When you know how to print, you can write in your journal. You might still need some help, but remember, your journal doesn’t have to be perfect. It should reflect you and the way you are at the time it is being written.
Spend a few minutes at a time working on your journal. Sunday afternoons are a good time to write. You don’t need to write in your journal every day like you do when keeping a diary, but you should write in it often, not just on special occasions.
President Kimball has suggested that everyone should have a notebook to write in. Many kinds and sizes of notebooks and journals are available. Some are hardbound books with JOURNAL written on the front in fancy gold lettering. Others are looseleaf binders with blank pages. Some are large and some are small. There are even journals made especially for children. You can use almost any kind of notebook, but since you want your journal to last a long time, make sure the paper is of good quality.
One important reason to keep a journal is that the prophet has asked all of us to do so. Developing a habit of keeping a journal while you are young may help establish the journal habit.
It is very hard to remember exactly how things were at certain times in our lives. By recording our feelings and thoughts and events as they occur, we can have an accurate record of our youth to read later on.
Mary Goble Pay kept a journal over a hundred years ago while she was crossing the plains in a handcart company with her family. Only because she wrote in her journal do we know of that difficult journey from a young person’s point of view: “There were four companies on the plains. We did not know what would become of us. One night a man came to our camp and told us there would be plenty of flour in the morning, for Brother Young had sent men and teams to help us. There was rejoicing that night. We sang songs, some danced and some cried. His name was Ephraim Hanks. We thought he was a living Santa Claus.”
Another reason to keep a journal at any age is that it helps us to understand ourselves. We can write about the things that upset and hurt us or about things that we do. Writing your thoughts or problems down can help you make decisions.
A twelve-year-old boy once wrote in his journal: “I’m going to change some things about myself. First, I’ll get more physically fit, second, I will do what I’m asked and more, and third, I’ll do better in school.”
Finally, another very important reason to keep a journal is to record your spiritual growth. Keeping a journal will help to remind you of the blessings of our Heavenly Father. Bearing your testimony on paper will help it to grow and strengthen others who read it later on.
A nine-year-old girl wrote in her journal of some of her spiritual experiences: “Me and Scott chose numbers [to see who would baby-sit]. I won. I was about to give my answer when a still small voice came to me and it said ‘stay home and tend.’ I obeyed it. I feel really good about it. I’m trying to be really good to everybody and pray a lot.” Another time she wrote: “Today’s fast Sunday and we can’t eat anything until church is over. I know I won’t starve because I’ve done it before and Heavenly Father helps.”
Make this the year that you begin writing in your journal and “maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.”