I have a special treat for you today! I asked my friend Barb if she would share her Truth Journaling story and she said yes!
Barb’s method of Truth Journaling is a practical way for us to actually implement Philippians 4:8. Barb has used this method to better her marriage, lose weight, and more. I’m pumped to have her here today because imagine what could happen if we all actually did this when we found ourselves being bombarded with negativity, discouragement, addiction, or lies?
This post is chock full of practical instruction and I know you’ll enjoy it …
My husband and I were doing a marriage Bible study with another couple years ago and we came up with an idea. We’d each pick one fault to work on— something that hurt our marriage—and we’d report back to the group each week to share how we were doing.
I chose to work on my critical spirit. My plan was to buy a journal and every time I had a negative thought about my husband, I’d go to my little journal, write it down, and replace it with a positive thought.
It wasn’t long before I discovered that many of my negative thoughts were lies. I began replacing lies with truth and called it truth journaling. I’ve been truth journaling for 16 years now and God has used this habit to change my life in countless ways: to improve my marriage, to have consistent quiet times, become more productive, get excited about His Word, lose weight, and work through those negative emotions that come visiting each day.
Truth journaling is a practical application of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 where we bring each thought captive to the truth. Here’s an example to show how it works.
Let’s say you’re mad at your husband—but this isn’t just a one day thing. Truth be told you’ve been harboring resentment for a long time now.
Let’s say one of his faults is that he doesn’t communicate as much as you’d like him to. You’re on a date one night and he’s same old, same old. Not communicating. So you come home and truth journal.
The first step is to just spill out your thoughts.
Here’s what you might write:
Larry is such a jerk. He never talks to me. Why did I ever marry him?
He’ll never change, and I’ll be miserable for the rest of my life.
There. It’s out. The thoughts aren’t very pretty, but those are the thoughts that are roaming around inside of your head, so those are the thoughts we want to examine and bring captive to the truth.
We might look at that paragraph and nod our heads and think, Yes! This is all true! We’ll think that because there have been years of built-up resentment and we’re seeing Larry through those eyes. Let’s see how he looks through biblical eyes.
Our next step is to number each sentence, and bring it captive to the truth.
Here’s what that might look like:
1. Larry is such a jerk.
Truth: Larry is a beloved child of God who has a communication problem that spills out and hurts me. He has other qualities, though, that are wonderful. He’s hard-working, loyal, kind, and accepting. So often I focus on the negative when he has many positive qualities.
2. He never talks to me.
Truth: He does talk to me, just not as much as I’d like!
3. Why did I ever marry him?
Truth: Because I loved him. And the truth is, there was no “marry a perfect man” option. Anyone I would have married would have had faults. Larry has a communication fault but I can think of faults that are a lot worse than that. I also have faults (a critical and condemning spirit for one) and God can use Larry’s faults to help me with my faults.
4. He’ll never change.
Truth: Only God knows this, and God won’t force him to change. But God can help me to be content with him in his as-is condition. If life is about having a soulmate relationship, this is a terrible situation. But if life is about loving God and others, this isn’t terrible because God can use Larry’s fault to help me become more loving and accepting of others. Yay God!!
5. And I’ll be miserable for the rest of my life.
Truth: I will NOT be miserable for the rest of my life! God can help me to become content in all situations. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and it comes from walking with God, not through creating the perfect life on earth. I am blessed, because God delights in me. He can meet all of my emotional needs, and I don’t need Larry to do that. God will use this situation for my good.
Do you see how much more hopeful I’d be feeling by the end of this truth journal entry? When we see life from a biblical perspective, it’s always good. When we see life from a cultural perspective, it’s often bad.
Truth journaling is a life changing habit that can draw you closer to God, help you mature, encourage conversations with God as you visit with Him about the truths you’re discovering, and last but not least, help you grow in the fruit of the Spirit. I hope you’ll give it a try!
If you’d like to know more about truth journaling and how I’ve used it to grow in Christ, I’ve written about it at my blog and also in the following books:
Barb Raveling is a writer, podcaster, and blogger at barbraveling.com. She and her husband homeschooled their four children and now enjoy the empty nester life: hiking, camping, backpacking, reading, working, and visiting with friends.