One of my greatest bucket list goals has been to write a book. I’m working down the list, but who knows if writing that book will ever happen? Yeah, me either. The discipline that takes, well… Although, it did occur to me just recently that in some ways I have written a book and continue to write to this day.
You can find the story of (most of) my life in my journals, which I have kept since early adulthood. In the future, I plan to number them, make “forward” notes in each one, and then bundle them up. My family may or may not choose to read the story of my life, and that is their call. I do hope my kids will hang on to the journals after I’m gone, at least for a while.
Honestly, I have been tempted to burn many of my earlier journals. I don’t really like the person I was so many years ago. Having grown up in a “conditional” home, I carried much of that into my marriage. When disagreements would occur as the hubster and I learned about each other, my mind would go into “conditional” mode: maybe if I get his uniforms ironed, he won’t be mad anymore. Or, if I scrub this house really clean, he’ll get over [whatever was our immediate disagreement]. I absolutely hated when we disagreed and I felt that he might be disappointed or angry with me. My earlier journaling conveyed those insecurities, and as I look back at them now, I can’t stand the fear I held onto that he might stop loving me if I didn’t do such-and-such. He never said that. He never implied that. But having come from our particular dysfunctional backgrounds, we didn’t understand how to believably assure each other.
In my early 30’s, Dave and I met a man who made an astute observation–he told us that we were either the only children of, or the first-born children of alcoholics. I was intrigued as to how he could know such a thing. His response: You apologize for everything–every controversial thought you have, the places you go, even the clothes you are wearing (“Oh, this old thing? I’ve had it for years.”). “Just say, ‘thank you,'” he would tell me. This wise man helped us begin working through our shame-based life, and he shared materials with us that began our journey of breaking the cycle of shame and guilt. For me, it was if I became a new person, and I was very happy about that*. That process took more years than I’m happy about, but eventually, through his and other folks’ wise counsel (and group therapy with women much like myself), I felt the chains eventually slip away and ultimately disappear. What freedom! And my journals plot that progression.
My journals will also tell the story of my Christian growth through the years. This is where I pray for my family to place the most of their focus. As the years have passed, I have come to be more and more aware that this life is not really about me at all. It’s really ALL about HIM. As my mind healed from past insecurities, my life’s experiences ultimately became centered around growing in faith and trusting Him for the final results of whatever life threw into my path. I pray that my journals reflect that.
It is also a prayer of mine that the stories folks tell about me will reflect a life lived for Christ that manifested in how I treated them. Those reading my journals may find their names written there. I filled pages and pages with prayers for many of them. I shared uncertainties, lingering insecurities, grief, angst, and I recorded many victories. What I hope those who read about my life through all that, though, is that I held an unwavering belief that God would take care of it all. In some cases, I have seen results. In some, I may not see them in my lifetime. That doesn’t change who God is or what I believe about Him, and I pray the sentiment of that is seen by the reader of my life.
So my book is mostly already written.
My journals will tell you that I wrote for an audience of One. I had no expectations of anyone else ever opening their pages. So, please don’t judge the story too harshly. Remember that, until the day of my death I was a work in progress. You may not like the person I was in my earlier journals, or you may not like the person I became–heck, you might not like me at all–and that’s okay. What will be most pleasing for me is that you will feel the honesty expressed in those pages of my personal journey and ultimately, that God received the glory for any victory celebrated.
It really is all about Him.
* [Dave’s story is his to tell, and I hope he will tell it some day. It’ll knock your socks off!]