Two years ago, I thumbed through a sea of blank pages in a brand new journal, thinking ahead to my future. What stories would these pages contain in just one year? What adventures would I one day look back on and remember fondly? I had carefully chosen an attractive journal covered with an array of world maps. Quotes about traveling and exploring graced every few pages of the inside. It truly was fascinating to behold and I had many hopes of recording a life that mimicked its cover in theme. I was dreaming of adventure with my beloved that would produce joy, laughter, peace, and spiritual growth.
Certainly, there was nothing wrong with my desire for that kind of adventure to be housed in my new journal. In fact, I think that’s a great way to reflect on one’s life. To hope for happiness and virtue for your life through the ability to reflect on them (journaling) is honestly dwelling on heavenly things. Things designed to point you to our Maker.
But I have to say… it was a little childlike of me to think that those desires would make themselves present in my life without struggle. All I saw when I looked at my journal was ease and leisure. Who has ever achieved virtue through ease and leisure? I know, you’re laughing now, right? You’re waiting for little Hannah to crash her bicycle into a tree and wail at a scraped knee… At least, that’s how you view the girl that just confessed to have thought virtue could come without pain and work.
What has filled that little red journal so covered in pleasurable ideas, you might wonder? Well, instead of writing about the first plane flight (maybe one day) like I hoped I would see in there, I wrote about that first time I looked down at the test and saw double lines… I wrote of the fear, I wrote of the pain I would endure over the next several months. I wrote of the happiness and joy I experienced on feeling life in my womb.
Instead of recording events in fun new places, I jotted down failures and insecurities in my vocation. I poured out my heart and watched it bleed onto the paper as those quotes mocked me for my childish thoughts. I followed it up with records of the lessons I learned in humility while doing this thing called “marriage.” I wrote down humiliations at work and then scribbled in the way I felt when I persevered and forced myself to return. I recorded the way my feet felt like cans of paint when I made myself walk somewhere to do something uncomfortable. Struggle tugged each word onto the next page. Discomfort raged all throughout the sea of crisp white paper.
But so did growth.
And, wonder of wonders, happiness too.
Now, different kinds of joys are being preserved than the joys of travel and fun. I’m in this adventure called motherhood now, so while I don’t get to see the world, I’m seeing the world anew through a little set of eyes. I find happiness in my tasks, like when I’m taking a shower and having to sing “the itsy bitsy spider” over and over to placate the baby until I can actually pick him up. And you better bet that there’s more laughter in this book than I ever would have had without my new little adventure cooing and smiling all day long. Motherhood is full of laughs.
This journal looks different than the polished, fun, and glamorous life I pictured reflecting back at me. It looks raw. It looks ugly at times. It also looks lovely, and I’m so glad to be writing about the adventure that God chose for me.
Have you kept a journal? What do you write about?