03385_000_012and other thoughts on journal keeping from young Latter-day Saints
“My journal is one of my most prized possessions. It’s my own personal history and testimony of my life so far, my own personal ‘scripture.’ It’s my record—kind of like Nephi’s record of himself and his family and people.”
That’s what Brent Eads, 17, of the Columbus Ohio Stake, wrote to us. And lots of other young men and women in the Church are echoing his sentiments about journals. They’re becoming a generation of journal-keepers, and they’re enjoying it. They’ve listened to what President Kimball has counseled and are discovering blessings in their lives because of it.
Why are they so enthused? We’ll let them tell you.
Some of them like the freedom of writing journals. “Journals are neat because you can write anything you want, and there are no guidelines that must be followed down to the letter,” said Eric Shubert of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Others find that their journal is an important part of their lifestyle. “Nothing feels completely done now until I write it down,” said Tamsyn Smith of Minneapolis, Minnesota. “There’s always a hanging feeling until I get it recorded.”
Some people are just discovering the excitement of their own lives. “I started keeping a journal 2 1/2 years ago. Now I’m grateful I had the determination to write a journal because I can read about experiences that I’ve had. And while I read them, happy memories come flooding back—memories of a trip to such-and-such a place, fond thoughts of a certain person. I can thrill again at the thought of a specific spiritual experience. My journal to me is a reference book to past happiness and experiences,” said Graham Mansfield, 17, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, England.
Learning about yourself is another popular aspect of journal-keeping. Janelle Carter of the Sydney Australia Parramatta Stake, wrote, “I’ve read over my words and find it interesting to discover how much I have changed. Sharing my ideas and interests with a special friend is great. I feel satisfied after writing down my thoughts and actions.”
Finding a friend in your journal is not unusual. Explained Jeree Worthen, 14, of Fairview Heights Illinois Stake, “I named my journal Lucy. It’s like my best friend. It’s kind of hard to talk to a page, but now I talk to my best friend Lucy and tell her my feelings.”
Sandra Garcia, of the Sydney Australia Parramatta Stake, agrees. “I found that my journal became one of my best friends, the one who knows me the best. I love writing on Sundays because something special always happens at church. I write every single detail I feel is important.”
Many journal-keepers write with their future children in mind. Deborah Williams of the Huddersfield England Stake, wrote, “My future family will know of my testimony of the gospel, how I developed it, and most of all, how I used it. They’ll know of my great love for my Heavenly Father and the love and blessings he gives to me. My journal is a continuous record of the ways my Heavenly Father blesses me, watches over me, and answers my prayers.”
“It’s a tradition in our family to keep a personal journal,” wrote Laura Call of the Columbus Ohio Stake. “During some of our family home evenings my dad reads us accounts from my great-grandpa’s journal, and that really inspires me to keep one. If my descendants get half the enjoyment I’ve received from reading my grandparents’ journals, it will be well worth my time to keep it up.”
Todd Jenkins of the Columbus Ohio Stake, also agreed. “I’ve often wished that my father had a record of his life that I could read and learn from. I’ve addressed my journal to my future son in the hope that one day I will have a son who can benefit from my personal history.”
Laurie Rands of the Ithaca New York Stake, feels the same way. “I want to share my experiences and feelings with my future children. My past may give them hope for their future. I’ve enjoyed reading about the experiences and trials of my ancestors and want my children to feel that same excitement reading my journal.”
Writing in your journal should not be just for your posterity though, cautions Colleen Bell, 17, of Chicago, Illinois. You should get satisfaction from it, too. “When I began writing in my journal three years ago, I was painfully aware that I was writing for posterity. I felt that my life should be recorded and that I should portray the best part of me that nobody knew. I wanted my great-grandchildren to see what I had been and to like me. I’m afraid that the first few passages of my journal were a bit stilted because of this.
“Yet as time went on and I became more used to writing thoughts that had always remained unexpressed, I was no longer writing for posterity, but for myself. It became the most effective way for me to talk to myself and figure out what I was thinking. Reading it over now, I see my growth over the past three years.”
And finally, many of those who wrote to us said that their journal was a spiritual strength to them.
“My journal’s been a great source of spiritual uplift,” said Luke Howard of the Sydney Australia Parramatta Stake. “When I’ve been discouraged or feeling down, I’ve often read through my journal and come across a spiritual testimony meeting or something like that. It’s good to remember those spiritual experiences and it really helps when you’re not feeling too good.”
Keep a journal? All of these people are agreeing that it’s well worth their time. Jenny Chase, 17, of Columbia, Missouri, sums it up well: “Keep a journal. It’s a wonderful experience. We’ve been asked to do it by our prophet, and it’s a beautiful way to communicate your life and you to your posterity. I never go anywhere without my journal!”
The Blessing Counter
The letter said, “Devin, you ought to start a journal. The prophet has counseled us to do it. I have been writing regularly in one and it has helped me a great deal. My journal is something that I will treasure forever.”
That was the essence of the only part I remember from a letter that my older brother Matt wrote to me in October of 1976. At that time he was serving a mission in Tokyo, Japan. I loved my brother. He was everything that I wanted to be. I thought, if he writes in a journal and thinks it’s a good thing, then I’m going to do the same.
I turned 16 years old shortly after I received his letter advising me to record the events of my life. For my birthday that year my parents gave me a $50.00 gift certificate. The following day I went to the store and spent five dollars of that gift certificate to buy my first journal.
On November 1, 1976, I made my first entry, and since then every day of my life has been recorded.
One purpose of my journal is that it serves as a blessing counter. As I write down my experiences, happy and sad, and my feelings about them, I am able to see better the blessings that each day brings.
Journal writing is also a valuable teacher for me. It provides a few minutes a night to look on the day and learn from each experience.
We all need to write in a journal, not only to help ourselves learn and grow and to count our blessings, but to share our experiences with those who follow us in this life.
I surely would like to be able to read about my great-grandfather’s first date or his feelings when he was ordained to be an elder. His journal would be a priceless treasure to me.
I believe my descendants will enjoy reading about my successes and failures and other experiences and feelings that I have had, such as the embarrassment that I felt when the back of my pants ripped out on one of my first dates or the nervousness that ran through my body as I opened the envelope that carried my mission call.
My journal is a priceless treasure to me. Writing in it has blessed my life. I hope the lives of my descendants will be enriched as they read about my experiences and that they will be inspired to start on their own “priceless treasure”—a journal.