So, my brother’s getting married in August. Therefore, the rest of the family has to clear out their “Hey Mom, I won’t have room for this at my house, can I leave it here?” stuff so he can transform the house from bachelor pad to a home of matrimonial bliss. (I won’t comment on how daunting a task that is, but, Jon, I’m totally here for you! I love to paint and, as you know, clean your house.)
So, I picked up my random assortment of sleeping bags, boxes of old toys, and a large trunk that contains all the things I stuffed in there when I moved away from home for my first job. That trunk contained one precious item I’d nearly forgotten about. The set of tea towels Grandma Fuller embroidered for me and gave to me on my 10th birthday. I still have the handwritten note that says, “Put these in your hope chest and they will keep.” I promptly washed them and stuck them in my kitchen drawer. Can’t wait for Ironing Day!
Also in the “Hope Chest” was a collection of notebooks I used as Journals from 5th grade to my senior year. As I read through parts of them, I ran along a gamut of emotions. I found myself laughing hysterically at something I’d completely forgotten about. I awwww’ed about a cute little passage I’d written about Emily’s latest developments (We would ask her, “Where’s the baby?” and then she would break into an adorable little smile when we pointed to her 6 month picture and say, “There she is!”). I even cried over passages I’m very glad I recorded, though I’d be mortified if anybody else found them. They’re the kinds of moments you say you’ll never want to forget and when you look back at them, you wish you’d forgotten!
All of this led me to wonder, why do we keep journals? Why keep a record of all the horrible things that happened to us in middle school? Why write down all the details of our friends’ high school lives? Hindsight makes it seem so pointless. Isn’t it better to forget those details and live in our current clouded remembrances of the way things were? Because sometimes they were much worse than we remember!
But then I found a passage about school that justified all the ridiculousness I’d read up to that point. I believe it was my Junior year, and I was complaining about how Mr. Phillips, my English teacher, was “mad” at me for not getting my draft turned in to him on time (as I read it, of course, I felt a bit bad for so self-righteously reprimanding my own students for such offenses). The next thing I wrote was something to the effect of, “He’s so confusing. He wants me to take all his classes next year.”
My 11th grade self did not understand, could not understand, that the more a teacher hounds you about something, the more they believe in you. I look at how far I have come (especially along the lines of being more punctual) and it makes me so full of hope for my own students. It also helps me understand their perspective a little better. When I’m too snippy, sarcastic, or even demanding, they sometimes interpret that in the wrong way, thinking I don’t care or I don’t like them. It is exactly the opposite. I’ve got to remember to tell them that!
So, thanks, old self, for having the perseverance to write down events the way you saw them so long ago. I am grateful for the perspective.
Journaling has always been a very helpful hobby of mine. Here is a list of reasons why it is beneficial:
2. Writing Skills I am sure that I would be a poorer writer had I not practiced as much as I have throughout these various journals.
3. Understanding Human Nature. I recorded some of our worst decisions as high schoolers, but as I look at the names mentioned in that journal now, what flashes into my mind are people who have grown into better human beings because of those experiences. I am now able to give more grace to each of us because, throughout life, one learns that sometimes people make poor choices, and, even if they do cause huge waves in others’ lives, usually everybody comes out stronger in the end. It is just so hard to see that while all the trouble is occurring.
4. Regret and Remembering. To contradict #3 just a little, it is good to regret something all over again. It helps you avoid mistakes in the future and take more precaution when making decisions. After all, Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” After reading these journals, I’ve decided that reflection and remembering helps mold you into a better version of who you are.
5. Solace. There is just something comforting and peaceful about looking back through slices of life that appear in my old journal entries. It’s fun to think about when life seemed more carefree. It’s fun to remember those amazing minor characters in my life whom I had forgotten. They each taught me a little lesson along the way that molded me into the person I am today. And, it is remarkably reassuring to me to see God’s hand on my life as I’ve journeyed through the many turbulent times of life.