Have you ever tried writing? Do you feel intimidated by the idea of seeing your thoughts expressed before you?
While experiencing moments of anxiety regarding writing, I have more often found the experience to bear fruit in many areas of my life. Sometimes writing has helped to relieve mental stress, by providing clarity and peace to struggles which may be raging in my mind.
Writing has also helped me to grow in self-awareness, by aiding me in recognizing my strengths and weaknesses. It has served as an avenue of prayer, a way which I am able to express my love for God, or other people, in a deeper way.
While writing my college thesis at Christendom College on the meaning and value of suffering, I was able to experience first-hand the cathartic effect of writing. Because I was dealing with a personal experience of suffering at the time, writing my thesis on this theme became a source of healing for me.
Writing opened my eyes to see myself and my struggles more clearly, and I believe that all who write will discover some means of self-growth in the process.
1. Writing as a relief to stress.
When we write, words flow from our minds onto the page before us. Since images are a powerful source of passions for us, seeing our thoughts laid out before us helps us to recognize our thoughts for what they are, and to use our reason to put order into them.
Sometimes when I have difficulty sleeping due to the inability to quiet the ramblings of my mind, I have been advised to write down my thoughts, so that I can rest assured that I will not forget anything the following day.
Likewise, when I worry that I will forget cute, memorable things from my children, I will try to write in a journal about things which I especially want to savor later in life. By doing this, I can rest assured that something is preserved on paper, and not just left floating in the recesses of my mind.
This is especially helpful for those of us who struggle with the tendency to worry or feel anxious about keeping it all together. Making lists, meal plans, and goal sheets can also help relieve stress in the life of a busy and overwhelmed homeschooling mother or father.
There is something about seeing it laid out coherently before us in writing which brings a sense of peace and accomplishment!
2. Prayer journaling.
Many people turn to journaling as an outlet in their prayer life. I have found this to be a satisfying way in which to express my thoughts to God in a meaningful way.
Oftentimes in writing, we are able to express ourselves more clearly and more personally than when we speak. Reading a kind note from a friend or coming across a journal of my mother’s from her younger years are instances where writing has given me a deeper insight into another person’s soul.
Indeed, the art of writing letters to friends or a spouse is often a touching and meaningful way of communicating.
I believe that is it also important in our relationship with Christ; by putting into concrete words the struggles or sensations that we are undergoing, we offer an important part of ourselves to another.
3. Writing as a means of self-growth.
When we examine our thoughts through journaling or letter writing, we have the chance to perceive our lives afresh from an “outside view”.
Often I have been humbled to look back at things I wrote about in the past, seeing the growth I have made interiorly, or realizing anew the constant blessings of my life. It is so easy to get caught up in the moments of our individual day, or week, and by stepping back to read about the whole of our lives, we are better able to sense the divine order and beauty behind it all.
Self-knowledge helps us to become better people, and through gaining insight into our inner selves through writing, we know more concretely the areas in which we need to apply work and effort in perfecting our personalities. In this way, we can become stronger, more virtuous individuals.
I hope to encourage my children to discover the many blessings which come from writing, and the great peace and joy which can come through the experience.
When all else seems to fail us or confuse us, writing out our feelings can provide relief and peace, and lead us closer to Christ and His mother.