Writing each day in your journal about specific persons and things--and the changes it can make in your life.
WHAT I CAN LOVE TODAY
It was during a spiritual retreat in 1993 that I learned a journaling technique that has helped me to better relationship with God, family members, friends and even myself.
During the retreat, the leader handed each of us (twelve middle-aged men) a sheet of paper with these questions on it: “What do I find in my life today that I can love about:
Then love what you find in your life and grow in trusting the faithful and generous God who has given you all these gifts.”
We were invited to go off alone and write at least a one-sentence response to each of those questions. Although they are simple questions, they are powerful, too, causing us to think, search and discover the importance in each of them. It also forced us to evaluate our relationship with those who are significant in our lives, whether we realize their importance or not.
I found it was important to write out each question in its entirety to truly appreciate its full impact. For example, for me there’s a mighty difference between writing out and answering “What can I find today to love about my wife,” and simply writing “my wife.”
As a result of that retreat I have kept a “What Can I Find Today To Love” journal. In the journal I write out each question and answer each time I use it, which is at least weekly and sometimes daily.
What sort of responses have these questions elicited? Sometimes elaborate answers, sometimes terse, but almost always they provide insights into how I am dealing with life.
Here are examples of random journal entries:
· September 12, 2001. (the day after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.) What do I find in my life today that I can love about my country? It has been wounded, severely, but not killed. It will recover, and it will seek justice, not merely revenge for its injuries. It remains a great nation. It still holds strong to high values—and its commitment to helping one another through this tragedy with gifts of money, blood, material goods and self-sacrifice.
· August 4, 1994. What do I find in my life today that I can love about my wife? “Her willingness to share her real self with me—to risks being vulnerable so we can get better as a couple.”
· December 17, 1994. (the day after my older sister died from cancer) What do I find in my life today that I can love about my job? The people I work with have hugged me, they let me cry and they are hurting with me.
· September 5, 1995. What do I find in my life today that I can love about my God? I don’t have to be perfect for Him. He doesn’t focus on my foibles, the way I do.
Although on retreat we were given the above list, you can create your own list or lists of persons or things to “love”. You might want to include your parents, or city, or pets. You can make the list longer, or write about only a few persons or things in your life. You can be a specific or as general as you like. It only need be a list of what is meaningful to you.
This journaling technique is a simple yet effective way to attain greater insight into our connection with God, others and even ourselves and what it is that makes them meaningful to us.