The Importance of Journaling, Revelations, and Other Things
Something occurred to me after writing Monday's article.
Our experiences in life affect how we live our lives today. But sometimes while we forget certain things in our past, the associated emotional baggage still affects us. It still has that hold on us.
There is something from my early college days that I've always remembered, but it wasn't until the other day that I realized how that one small thing, combined with all of my existing beliefs, caused a ripple effect in my life that changed how I saw one of the most important things in life: friendship.
I used to be one of the popular kids. Back in elementary school. By the time junior high arrived, I had picked up some negative beliefs and paranoia and that led me to leave the public school and homeschool myself. During that time, my communication skills suffered. We were attending church occasionally and I was interacting with kids my own age, but I didn't have any close friends and I didn't feel like I could relate to anyone. I got my "communication fix" by talking to others in online chat rooms and this instant messenger called ICQ (does anyone remember that one? Actually, it still exists!).
When my parents and I moved to Colorado in 1999, I decided it was time to go back to public school – for my last year. I had all of these grand images about what that would be like. But by then, I didn't know how to talk to anyone. Not surprisingly, it didn't go at all like I had imagined. Then I went off to college and on the very first day being in the co-ed dormitory, I met some sophomores who were leading a Christian small group and they invited me to join. I was in. On the very first day, I found friends! And I was the freshman hanging out with all of the sophomores.
But after the first month or so (maybe it was two or three, I don't remember exactly), one girl made a comment, something to the effect of "you can hang out with us until you find your own friends."
Here I thought I was making friends, and they were really just being nice until I found someone else to hang out with? Now I don't know if everyone felt that way or if it was just her and maybe she didn't even mean it the way I took it, but I had a hard time making friends after that. I think I had lost my faith in it. It just reaffirmed all of the existing negative beliefs I had about friendship and so I poured my focus into things that wouldn't fail me or reject me.
When my husband and I finally found a great church and small group and we started to get connected with other couples, I didn't know how to be a good friend. My communication skills had improved, but I still had a hard time. It was also hard for me to accept compliments or simple acts of caring, like someone saying "we love you" or "we're glad you're here". Because of my past experiences, I couldn't really fathom that a friend actually loved me or truly cared about me. Eventually, things became easier but it's still something I struggle with.
Got some flaws you'd like to fix? It's hard to heal when we don't really know the root cause or what led up to our "fall", if you will, especially when we still feel the effects of memories we've either repressed or discounted. Spend some time journaling about it and ask God to reveal things to you. Getting thoughts out on paper or on a computer has always helped me learn more about myself so I can work on improvement. It also tends to reveal things that I had never thought of before.
There's a really good book that walks couples through steps to recovery. It's called Love After Marriage: A Journey into Deeper Spiritual, Emotional, and Sexual Oneness by Barry and Lori Byrne. It's the book we're reading in our small group for married couples. Going through the book and working on the activities and the homework has helped unveil some underlying issues that try to pop up and cause conflict in our marriage. I highly recommend it.
The important thing to remember is that whatever happened in our past, we have the opportunity to rise above it. So, what is holding you back? What is stopping you from your dreams and goals? What is keeping you from being the person you want to be?
Figuring out what is holding you back will help you put a stop to associated challenges that keep popping up. It might take some time for those things to be revealed to you, so keep journaling and writing down your thoughts.