“And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.” Isaiah 30:8 (ESV)
I had a strong relationship with the Lord, but after Jamie’s death I had a hard time with prayer. Not that I didn’t want to pray. Simply every time I closed my eyes to pray, I would see images (that no mother should see). Also, I felt like I was such in a fog that I could not concentrate enough to put two or three words together to have an effective prayer.
In the midst of my rawest grief, I shared this sentiment with a friend one day. She sweetly reminded me that I could pray with my eyes opened. In fact, I could write out prayers to help my wandering mind.
Why didn’t I think of that? Really, I had learned first-hand the benefits of journaling over the years.
In my home office, I have a credenza filled with journals that contain over thirty years of prayers. I’ve referred back to them as a “witness” of God’s faithfulness over the years. At times, encouraging myself as David often did – to keep moving forward. (Psalm 42)
But I had stopped writing after Jamie’s death. It was too overwhelming. Then I seemed to simply forget about it.
Why do we become forgetful with grief? Stressful and traumatic events affect the neural processing of the brain, causing our brains to get stuck in replaying the bad memories. Ultimately shutting down our ability to think clearly/calmly. It stops our ability to be creative and move forward.
I decided to heed the Godly counsel of my friend and started writing my prayers again. Pouring out my heart to God, sharing everything that was in my head – – the good, the bad and the ugly.
It was extremely painful to relieve those horrific memories. But as time went on, I watched some amazing things happen as God began to bring healing to my mind. I also found my voice again. You see, the woman before was used to being on the stage “up front and center”. This broken shell of a woman cried constantly. Talking was the last thing I wanted to do.
While it may be more convenient to type on laptops/tablets – typing doesn’t stimulate the brain like handwriting.
In fact, the act of writing by hand engages the left brain – stimulating the Reticular Activating System. The RAS categorizes what must have immediate focus and filters out the rest. While the left side is engaged, the right brain becomes free to create and feel again. Basically, writing removes the mental blocks that hinder you from utilizing your full brain power. When both sides of your brain are fully engaged, you are more capable of understanding yourself, others and the world around you.
When we’re able to fully engage in our world – we’re more likely to make an impact for the Kingdom. The enemy of our souls knows this and works hard to keep our minds distracted and focused on the pain. It is his goal to inhibit our ability to move forward in life.
When we heed the words of Habakkuk 2:2 to “write it down” – we not only see spiritual, but mental, emotional and physical benefits.
In addition to helping us sort out our thoughts, find control and clarity, did you know that regular journaling also –
- Strengthens your immune cells – T-lymphocytes
- Decreases symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduces stress – writing about painful emotions helps release their intensity.
Science is now catching up with what the Bible has told us for years – handwriting (journaling) has positive impacts on our bodies.
The next time a friend or a counselor suggests you try journaling to help you find focus in your grief – don’t be so quick to dismiss it.
God has given you access to a powerful tool– don’t waste it!
My Hope Endures,
Director, Ephraim Ministries