“Writing My Own ‘Small Plates’” Ensign, Apr. 1995, 71
Years ago as a busy mother of young children, I found I had limited time and even less energy to concentrate on the important task of developing my own spirituality. Then I heard a directive given by President Spencer W. Kimball in which he urged all members of the Church to keep a personal journal. His counsel has proven to be the answer I needed to keep myself spiritually in tune.
Now each evening before going to bed, I write in my journal. As I write, I reflect on the day, sometimes rejoicing when I feel I’ve handled a situation well, at other times wishing I’d reacted with more patience and humility. My entries aren’t often long; in fact, one entry states simply, “It’s been a long day.” Usually, though, I write a paragraph or two, and sometimes an entire page.
Recently I added a most important dimension to my journal writing when a friend challenged me to make my own “small plates.” This separate record is a spiritual history, similar to Nephi’s small plates on which he wrote “the things of my soul” (2 Ne. 4:15). On my “small plates,” I include the sacred events and feelings—such as personal inspiration, special feelings about my family and friends, and overcoming temptation—that may otherwise be lost in my “large plates” account.
Keeping a journal does not automatically solve all of life’s problems, nor can it change me when I am unwilling to admit my mistakes or resistant to improving. However, my journal chronicles my progress as I try to do better, and it provides encouragement when I am depressed about my weaknesses. As I reread past entries, I realize that much of my life evolves in cycles, each presenting its own set of challenges. My journal, especially my “small plates,” allows me to keep those challenges—and myself—in perspective.—Jane McBride Choate, Loveland, Colorado