Here we go. Day 1 of blogging. Am I actually doing this?
For as long as I can remember I have kept a journal. In elementary school it began as a diary. My mom enjoyed a weekend trip each year to Fredericksburg, Texas with a group of friends. This particular trip she brought me a pink diary with colorful hearts, fully loaded with a lock and key. I could write anything in this book and no one could open it. It had a lock, right? I remember coming home from school and expressing an annoyance with a girl in my class. I later erased part of the entry feeling I was too mean. Despite the lock and key I had a sense that someone might one day read it. I didn’t want anyone to think in a moment of frustration that was how I thought of a girl who was indeed my friend.
My diary turned into a prayer journal in early junior high. From 3rd grade through 12th grade I participated in Leadership Training for Christ (LTC). LTC is an organization comprised of youths who are associated with the churches of Christ. This association helps to equip young people to be leaders in Christian service. The annual convention for North Texas is held Easter weekend in Dallas. For 9 years Easter weekends were spent in a hotel. How did the Easter bunny always know where to find us? One preconvention event that I enjoyed was Daily Devotional Challenge. This required 20 minutes of Bible reading plus keeping a prayer journal daily for 60 days. My journal entries consisted of a short paragraph starting with, “Dear God” and ending with, “Love, Ally.” While my motivation at the time was probably to add another event to my LTC resume, little did I know the habit this was creating.
As I entered high school I started taking more ownership of the journaling. This was no longer just an item to check off my list. I used paper and pen as an outlet to vent frustrations and sort through feelings. The majority of these writings were about classes, volleyball, friends, who liked who, who was going to Homecoming with who, who I liked, who I would consider liking… (Hey, I was in high school). This was a safe place for me to express raw emotions without fear of judgment.
By the time I reached college, journaling was a daily part of my life. For the first time, I had roommates and more people coming in and out of my space than ever before. I felt a real threat that these thoughts could be read by someone without my knowledge. While there was never anything truly “bad” it was still a vulnerable place to be. What I mean is, in a moment of frustration or stress I would have vented something I would never actually wanted to say. I took a risk that these words may be read and misconstrued, that my feelings in a moment of anger would override the true love and care I had for friends.
Lo and behold, the very thing I feared did happen at least once to my knowledge (and really, probably even more than that). A friend took one of my journals and read every word cover to cover. I felt taken advantage of, like something was stolen from me. My journal was believed to be a safe place that I could cry out to God and hash through life with Him. And yet, the next morning the sun still came up and life went on. My privacy was invaded, and chances are it will happen again.
Fast forward through the rest of college, graduate school, and 4 years of marriage to today. Now I am choosing to put these thoughts out into the world for anyone to read. I am fearful. I once again feel vulnerable. And while I will not express my emotions in the way I would in my physical journal at 4:00am curled up in a blanket on my favorite spot on the love seat with a hot cup of coffee in hand, I still want to be real about life and the lessons God teaches me every day. He reveals His glory to us in countless ways, more than we could ever imagine. Unfortunately, I do not keep track of these gifts…these miracles… “protections” even. But I want to start now. If I can bring encouragement to even one person by the lessons God teaches and blessings He showers down, this vulnerable writing will be worth it-even if that one person is me…