Hey, my friends. Welcome to this special bonus episode of Let’s Encourage One Another. Today, I’m not going to be sharing about a specific spiritual practice like I normally do on bonus episodes, but rather about an upcoming program I’m hosting that is based on the practice of journaling.
You’ve heard me mention this program, called Journal Gently, a few times on recent episodes, but I haven’t really taken the time to dive deep into what it’s about, what it looks like, and things like that.
I know many of you are wondering, “Should I join? Is it a good fit for me?” And so my hope is to provide you with some questions to help you figure out if the program is a good fit for you right now in this season you’re in.
Of course, I’ve spoken to a lot of people about what I do, and many times they say, “This isn’t a good fit for me, but I can think of five people who would really connect with that.” And that’s great! Because I know I focus on more introverted women who like to journal and write, who enjoy quiet spaces and time alone. That’s how I’m wired, too! And so if that’s the case, if this program isn’t for you, but you know a few people it might really connect with, my hope is that you’ll pass this along to them. Maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s someone at your church, maybe it’s a family member. The link to this episode is lovedoesthat.org/bonus17. Just send that to them and have them listen when they’re ready.
Before I get to the questions, let me review what Journal Gently is all about.
About Journal Gently
Journal Gently is an 8-week program designed to help you process grief and trauma with God through writing. It is based on the methodology of an organization called Write Your Self, and this is a trauma-sensitive method, so it was specifically created for women who had been through some sort of traumatic experience, such as abuse or a deep loss or change.
But on top of that, I am bringing in some Christian spiritual practices that lend themselves well to these writing exercises so that we can invite God into the process. Because we know that God is the healer, and we want to bring these broken pieces to Him, don’t we? We want to seek His presence. We want to be able to receive His peace and comfort. And so each week, in addition to the training from Write Your Self, I will share one or two spiritual practices for you to try.
Journal Gently starts on August 1, and the last day to sign up is July 29. So if you already know you want to be a part of it, don’t wait to sign up. Just go to lovedoesthat.org/journalgently and register there.
Okay, so how do you know if Journal Gently is a good fit for you? These are the questions I would invite you to consider.
Question 1: Do you already have some sort of practice of journaling or writing?
Journal Gently is a writing program, so it works best with those who already journal in some way, shape, or form. Now, it doesn’t have to be daily, it doesn’t have to look any specific way. In fact, part of what we work through in the program is creating a writing schedule and routine that works for you and that is mindful of what it takes to process trauma and grief.
But it would really help if you already journal at least a few times a month. Maybe you have specific questions you write through or maybe you just do a brain dump or free writing, jotting down what is going in your life and bringing it to the Lord.
Right now for me, journaling often looks like pausing when something is weighing on my heart and bringing it to God and asking Him, “What do You want me to know about this?” or “What do You want me to do with this?” And then I write to kind of process it and listen for His leading in that. Sometimes He brings to mind a Bible passage, sometimes there’s not a clear answer by the time I’m done journaling. But that’s mostly what my journaling looks like these days.
What does it look like for you? Do you pause to reflect on something through writing? Maybe it’s a prayer journal or a Bible journal. It could be on your computer or in a notebook. But what does it look like for you?
Question 2: Do you have one or two hours to dedicate to this work each week?
The time commitment for this program is, at minimum, one hour a week, maybe even two. That’s the time it will take to listen to my audio training, read through the material from Write Your Self, and complete at least one writing exercise. I also encourage you to find a bit of time to practice the spiritual discipline I bring up in the training.
Now, this hour or two can be all at once—maybe you set aside a block of time on Wednesday afternoons—or you can break it up throughout the week. For example, you can listen to the 10-minute audio training on Monday, read through the training material on Tuesday, try the spiritual practice on Wednesday, complete the writing exercise on Thursday, and then email me back on Friday. That’s 10-20 minutes a day. Sounds do-able for most of us, right?
But be honest about your time commitment right now. If this is an extremely busy season for you, that’s okay. I’d rather you wait to sign up until you are able to fully engage with it. I plan to run it again in either October or January, so if you’d like to be notified when that happens, just email me at email@example.com and I’ll put you on a waitlist for that, okay?
Now, while this program is offered at a gentle pace and you are able to complete the work in 1-2 hours a week, you also have the ability to dive more deeply into any area you choose and make it into more of an intensive season of writing and journaling. For example, we offer several writing exercises each week and only ask you to choose one of them to write about. You could, if so desired, choose to complete all of them. Or you could really dive into one of the spiritual practices and make it a part of your regular routine.
But at minimum, you’ll need one or two hours to complete the expected workload of the program. Is that attainable for you right now?
Question 3: Are you ready to face what you have been through?
Now, at the outset I’ll say that you get to choose what you write about, so you don’t necessarily have to write about an experience that is too much for you to think about right now. You can start with more mundane things or things that maybe didn’t hurt quite so much, but you still want to explore.
But, many times, this will be a place where women will begin to write about and acknowledge what they have been through, often saying it for the first time, if even only to themselves.
This is hard work. It takes courage, and it takes vulnerability, to face it. To say “this happened to me” or to say “I made this choice” or to say “God, I need you to help me.”
It’s one thing to say, “I was in an unhealthy marriage,” and leave it at that. It’s another thing to say, “I was in an abusive marriage.” That word carries so much weight and so many memories. Or maybe it’s one thing to say, “I’m not really friends with them anymore,” but another to say, “I’m not friends with them anymore because they betrayed my confidence.” You see the difference? It’s owning up to what really happened. It’s writing the words down and facing them head on—together, with God.
My guess is, if you are considering the program at all, if you feel drawn to it, then there is something that you’ve been carrying around with you, that is weighing on you, that’s getting heavy. And you’re ready to lay it down. You’re ready to go to God and say, “Okay, let’s talk about this. I’m ready to surrender this part of my life to You.”
As a spiritual director and writing guide, I’ll be there to support you in this process, to pray for you, to provide feedback and suggestions wherever you are at in the journey, and to walk you through some writing strategies that help you approach your storytelling in a way that works best for you.
And again, you get to choose how much, if anything, to share with me. But you’ve got to be ready to look back, to let God bring some memories or details back to you, to maybe even confess some sin in your own life. It won’t be easy, but it will be so very good. And you won’t have to go through it alone.
Question 4: Do you like to email others about your reflections and questions, and complete training on your own?
Now, there are no live calls or training in Journal Gently. This entire program is done via email. I’ll email you on Monday with the training, which includes a short audio training, a short reading, and then some writing exercises. You work through that on your own throughout the week, and then you respond to some questions I provide for you by the end of the week. You’re also free to email me at any time with questions or personal reflections.
This allows you both the privacy you need to do some of this holy and important work, but also a sacred space for you to share what you want to share and ask whatever questions are weighing on your heart.
I know for me, I’ve been part of some live programs where you’re expected to do some of the work together on the calls, and while that’s kind of useful, I usually struggled to really focus and feel like I could put my full attention to it. Maybe I felt like others were watching me, or I was supposed to get a certain amount done by the time we gathered back together. This way, you are able to do the work on your own and take as much time as you need, without feeling the pressure of someone waiting for you to finish.
As I said at the beginning, I know this isn’t a good fit for everybody. Some women need to verbally process what they are thinking and experiencing. Some need the community aspect right there with them in person or on the call. And that’s okay! But that means that Journal Gently probably isn’t the best fit for you. Community for this program looks like private, 1:1 to support via email. I commit to respond to your questions and reflections in a timely manner so you have the care and guidance you need as you do the work in a safe and comfortable space for you.
Okay, so again, those questions are:
- Do you already have a practice of journaling or writing?
- Do you have at least 1-2 hours a week to devote to doing the work?
- Are you ready to face what you have been through?
- Do you like to email others about your reflections and questions, and to complete work on your own?
If you answered yes to those, then I absolutely think you should sign up for Journal Gently. If you answered no to any of them, or if you still have questions, then don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll chat more about it and discern if this is a good fit for you right now.
Journal Gently starts on August 1 and runs through September 23. If you decided that yes, you want to sign up, just go to lovedoesthat.org/journalgently and you’ll find all the details there, including what topics we are covering each week in the program.
Okay, my friends, that is all for today. Thanks for taking the time to hear more about Journal Gently. Remember, we’ll be starting on August 1 and the last day to sign up will be July 29, so it you are interested at all, please don’t wait to grab your spot.
Until next time, let’s encourage one another…
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.