The 20-Day Challenge


I had tried to keep a journal before but had quit. Why should this time be different?

I live in Canberra, Australia. My dad and mum gave me my first journal as a present when I was about eight years old. I wrote in it for a couple of months; then I gave it up. Then, when I was 12, I got it out one day and read it. I decided I’d better start writing again, because by then I had received three other journals as presents!

About this time, a seminary teacher in our branch challenged me to write in my journal every day for 20 days. She said if I did, it would become a habit. I decided to try it.

Writing was hard at first, but it got easier. I found that by writing down my feelings and thoughts, I naturally included feelings and thoughts of a spiritual nature. I made my record fun by trying to include information I thought my children might be interested in someday—for example, how much things cost. I figured it would be interesting for them to see what daily life was like when I was young.

I found that a journal is a good way to express feelings. You may not want to share sensitive feelings with anyone else, but you can write about them in your journal. For example, I find it hard to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting (even though I do it sometimes). But I express it often in my journal.

I really like to write on Sundays, when I’m thinking about spiritual things. And I like to go back and read what I wrote before. I can see how much I have changed; I can see that parts of my journal are much more spiritual than others. It helps me analyze my life and see what the Lord does to help me. It relaxes me and gets my mind off the world.

Some of my favorite entries are about my friends. When my brother was on his mission, I wrote to him every week—and included in my journal are a lot of the same thoughts I sent him. I’ve written about my own baptism, about Young Women activities, and just recently about sharing the gospel with a friend I’ve known for six years who finally took the missionary discussions and decided to be baptized. If she can’t remember who attended her baptism and how we all felt, I have all that recorded so I can share it with her. Now I’m trying to convince her to keep a journal of her own.

I received my 20-day challenge five years ago. I’m still writing in my journal every night. I get it out before I go to bed. I read my scriptures; then I write in my journal. Now it’s automatic, and I plan to keep writing in it throughout my life.

[photo] Photograph by Richard M. Romney