I don’t really remember how it got started. I remember having a blue puppy journal with a lock on it that I think was from my mom, and then a Girls’ Camp journal from my aunt around fourth or fifth grade. In all actuality it was like, someone gave me a pretty notebook and I just started jotting down thoughts, drama and day-to-day life (as much as a 9 year old girl can have anyway). The summer before I left for college, my mom told me I needed to begin cleaning out my room. Not all of it, she wasn’t kicking me out, I was just ordered to start slowly boxing up the things I never used, but wanted to keep. It was part of the slow crawl I had started into adulthood, I guess, and it was a long summer.
Somehow I had accumulated a lot of stuff. Trash bags full of stuff. I donated and threw away so much stuff. One thing I came across that made the ‘keep’ box, though, was journals. At least a dozen little notebooks hidden in the back of a drawer of all shapes, sizes and colors. From the early years of puppies and glitter to the more sophisticated, more current years of solid colors, flowers and bible verses. I sat and read through pages and pages of old “Dear Diary” entries that summer for hours on end, reliving and reminiscing over my younger years that seemed so far away.
I was so surprised to find out from reading them some interesting things about myself. Like how absolutely boy-crazy I was, for instance. Truly, I was surprised. I don’t feel like I’ve ever been one to fawn all over boys; although my friends might tell a different story, I’m not sure.
From thinking our missionary’s son was super cute at Girls’ Camp, to getting mad at a friend in 5th grade for “going out with” a boy I thought was cute, to literally having lined-paper melt-downs over boys who, looking back, were so incredibly not worth the time, I was 100 percent involved in the boy-craze faze. And I just couldn’t remember this being true! As I read through my old diaries, I was honestly a little disappointed I wasn’t more mature at 10 years old, but at the same time crying with laughter at the thought of myself as a little girl, day-dreaming over the handsome, Ken-like 10 year old of my dreams.
I don’t guess I expected to feel so nostalgic about those little journals. I was, after all, just a little girl. But as I sat there on my bedroom floor, reading page after page of random thoughts, I couldn’t help but think through all of the other characteristics I saw in myself. From innocence and a completely different worldview, to honest love for God and intense self-esteem issues, it was all there when I started flipping through the ink-filled pages. I struggled with a lot of different insecurities. Some I have out grown, and some still plague me 15 years later.
As I’ve gotten older, and continue to go back to those diaries, I have become very thankful for the little notes. Part of my story has been written down that I will always be able to remember. There are all the diary entries from my months in depression. The time my grandmother passed away. My first and last boyfriends. My husband. Fall-outs with friends and reconciliation. Healing in my relationship with my mother and sister. But most importantly, instances where I earnestly sought God in prayer, and saw him answer in mighty ways.
It’s amazing to me that in one journal, I can mourn and agonize and pray over a situation, and then pick up the next journal to find that wound healed, that situation resolved, or that prayer patiently answered. He restored my faith so many times when I was so undeserving, and brought me through so many difficult situations.
I can’t help but make the connection to Heaven one day. Like Paul said, right now we are only looking in a clouded glass, but one day we will see clearly. Right now, my life is a clouded glass, and later, I will be able to see things for what they were. When we finally get to go home, we’ll see all the bittersweet joy and pain from this life and how God walked through every moment with us.
I didn’t write every day back then. I still don’t. But I can’t wait to have my first child (God willing) and then read the diaries from my first few months of marriage. Or send my children off to college and then read the diaries I kept when they were teenagers.
While so many memories are bittersweet, there are those that will always stay in my heart as defining moments. Moments that completely flipped my world upside down. And I find that God was there through every single instance. Every tear, every laugh, every heartache and every accomplishment, He was always there, right beside me watching, laughing, carrying and loving. We will see that one day in the future too. When we can finally see clearly.
*Photo credit: ‘spirals’ flickr by nuanc