My soul empties out very differently with a pen and paper than it does with a digital keyboard.
I’ve talked a lot about journaling, and there are many types of journals and journaling styles. But if you’re wondering how to best keep up with your soul and spiritual life, we’re going to talk about why a paper and pen journal is perhaps your best companion of any.
There is an intimacy factor here that is exponential. I’ve journaled for years in a number of ways — so much that I know what works for me, and what doesn’t. I keep both a digital journal and a paper journal. Each are quite different, however. The greatest difference with my paper and pen journal is the intimacy it provides not only with myself, but with God.
There is nothing that gives me permission to unleash the deepest parts of me
like a paper and pen journal.
Nor is there any other medium that can readily capture them.
My soul is freed on paper via my pen in a wholly different manner than it is with typing on a keyboard, which often proves to be a fuss. Things that are bound up which I may find very difficult to express in other ways, come pouring out very readily with a paper and pen. Part of this, I’ve come to realize, is truly connected with parts of our brain. We use different neuronal pathways with penmanship than we do with typing. Yet with a pen and paper journal, a part of my soul is unlocked — almost like it’s just waiting for the opportunity to leap upon the page. What I’m experiencing, feeling, and thinking is much more readily transferred. I can take my time, curl up, and savor the moment in a way I find very, very difficult to do with a laptop. The flow is fantastic and virtually unhindered. There is no suffocation of soul.
Digital journals are excellent. They are very easy to navigate and store. But I don’t believe they are as secure. Nor are they as practical. Copies can be altered or compromised in various ways, and breaches in security can be a real challenge as well. Furthermore, they are not as intimate or private. It’s hard to curl up with a laptop that wants to go to sleep if I’m stuck pondering a thought. And if I’m not near an outlet it’s not very convenient. There are all kinds of issues with digital journals. Mine serve as a very practical running tally of my life in general. They are short, general, and very poignant. They definitely are not as intimate. But they do serve me well in marking key events, people, and circumstances in my life in a way that can be conveniently referenced. I’ve learned, however, not to use them to pray or unload soul-sprawling entries. They don’t readily offer that flexibility in a manner that suits me. Also, when working on a laptop, privacy while crafting an entry can be readily compromised or difficult to secure because others can easily read a lit up screen of black and white from quite a distance unless you have a privacy screen attached. Again, not convenient.
Curling up with a pen and paper journal is a comfort.
It just fits.
When I have my paper and pen journal with me, it just fits. It can go everywhere with me very easily, and is a comforting companion to my Bible. At home I keep a locked drawer of consecutive journals I’ve penned throughout my life. They’re all dated accordingly. They serve as wonderful life-companions and are full of sacred memories and moments with God. They are full of words from God, and life lessons I’ve learned. Some of the most difficult journeys in life are recorded in my journals. To this day they are some of the most sacred keepsakes of my entire life. I enjoy going back and learning from them. Not only are they wonderful reminders, but they offer perspective to where I am today. If I ever lose track or wonder how I got where I am today — my journals will tell me. They keep me accountable.
You’d be amazed at the longevity everyday paper products truly have. I know companies like to sell the acid-free lignin paper and ink. It’s really wonderful that we have those today, and if you want to invest in them — go for it! But really, in truth, they’re not necessary. If all you can afford is a steno notebook or spiral binder and a Bic pen, that will serve you very well for years to come. If cared for properly, they will last for generations. Truly, they will.
Creating and crafting your very own journal is a sacred experience.
It will outlive you.
It just will.
So please don’t worry if you don’t have the kind of journal you may really wish to have. Start simple, or even create your own. I encourage you to become as creative as you’d like and make it truly yours.
Pen and paper journals can be very unstructured, which is honestly what you’ll need when real life hits. They afford such freedom to write, draw, cut and paste, and even tuck those precious memories in-between pages. They are wonderful in so many ways. This is nearly impossible to accomplish with a digital journal. Furthermore, if there are occasions when another person should actually write or sign or make an entry in your journal, they can do that very easily. Those occasions may be rare, but they do happen.
The unstructured nature of a paper and pen journal is what real life needs. Rarely does real life fit into neat boxes and bullet points. My paper and pen journals are very versatile because they can conform to my needs at any given time. If I’m at work, my paper and pen journal stays at home. Sometimes things God speaks to me are very in-the-moment, written on nothing more than a piece of scratch paper, or even paper towel or napkin — whatever I can find. These notes can transfer to my paper journal in a number of ways. If I want to remember the authenticity of the moment, I’ll tuck that scrawled note into the pages. If I want to take it home and transcribe it, that works just as well.
The versatility a paper and pen journal offers is unique.
It can transform into whatever you need it to be, anytime, anywhere.
Drawings, doodles, photographs, flowers, notes, cards, and the like — are all well kept and preserved beautifully in a paper and pen journal alongside your Bible. And what a beautiful memoir of your life you’ll have created for yourself. If you should want to pass it on — it can be done quite easily. I’ve been the blessed recipient of such keepsakes from my grandparents and other loved ones, and they are some of my most treasured and sacred possessions.
Journals are living documents. They are constantly changing. Your journals will serve as a powerful memoir of your life. They will prove to be some of the most precious things you will ever own or create. They should be, and can be, much more than a chronology of events. They can become a scrapbook of sorts. They will help keep you spiritually on track and they will provide a wonderful intimate outlet between you and the LORD for your soul to be freed — in a way that keeps you accountable to Him. I encourage you to keep a paper and pen journal handy in a size and weight that is manageable for you. Keep it dated and reference it often.
When keeping a pen and paper journal, you may want to create a digital journal alongside just for other areas of life that need more structure. They will serve you well also. But make no mistake, when you need an intimate companion, a paper and pen journal will prove to be one of your very best.
A paper and pen journal will prove to be
one of your very best companions —
TIP: If you want to begin journaling and are looking for something more than a steno notebook, I personally suggest visiting Barnes and Noble, either online or in one of their stores. They have some of the best journals made of fine leathers and lignin-free papers ever crafted in various sizes and styles. I can personally attest to their quality, and I think you’ll be very happy with what you find.
I wish you the very best in your journaling! It’s never too late to start — and don’t ever stop! Once you begin, your journal will surely become one of your most trusted companions, resources, and a friend unlike any other.
Cheers & Shalom,
Image Credit: CharuTyagi | Pixabay