Here it is: write everything down.
See what I mean? Not inspiring at all.
I jotted down my new mantra on a post-it note on my clipboard: "Become a diary keeper." That's my goal for 2012.
My one goal.
When the idea first occurred to me during a morning quiet time in December, I replied, "C'mon. Twelve-year-old girls keep diaries -- cute little books with padlocks in which they scrawl bad poetry, song lyrics, and crushes on teachers. That's all you can come up with?"
Seriously. And it was all I could come up with.
The idea would not leave. It clung to me like the scent of fresh air lingers on clothing and hair after a long hike in the woods.
"Why not? It won't hurt. You like to write. This is only a small additional step. Why don't you just try it?"
So I Started
Finally, I gave in. After some experimenting, I settled into a pattern of recording more of my life. Right now, I am writing down what happens and what I do through several avenues:
1. Quick Morning Diary: I type a quick off-the-top-of-my-head online diary entry of 300-500 words over my first cup of coffee. This is really a brain dump. I have no standards of any kind for it. I just write whatever comes to mind.
2. Checklists: I made a couple of checklists of recurring tasks on my computer which I print out. The daily one is used for a week and the weekly one is used for a month. These track my habits and my routine. Because I use penciled check marks, they only take a few minutes.
3. Journal Reflections: I type longer, more reflective inner conversations and brainstorming when there is time or a need. I try to do as much of my mental processing and decision-making while writing as I can, so that I have a record of my process.
4. Calendar: Although my calendar is primarily a planning tool, I have started using it to record events and larger tasks which have been done.
I keep all of these in a three-ring binder by my desk and in Google documents attached to my email account. There's nothing magical about the places I use, but these are easy for me and highly accessible. The point is that I record what is actually happening, both around me and inside my head.
I Started a Revolution
Now I see patterns. I see habits. I see purpose. Before this, it was all a blur. But now I see God's persistent leading through circumstances, other people, books, sermons, and quiet inner impressions. This leading is unmistakable, undeniable. He is constantly, patiently working in my life and upon my character.
I can see how change actually happens for me. I can see how I sometimes prevent change from happening. I can see how some changes which seem good are not true paths and neglecting them is not failure. It is instead an unspoken recognition of the frailty of a finite, limited life.
I can see how God is steadily working through all my circumstances and events -- whether I anticipate them or they surprise me. These are tools in his hands. I am a work in progress, even while I pursue the work He has for me to do.
I can no longer kid myself about what I am doing or not doing. It has been recorded in written form. I thought this would discourage me, but it doesn't -- because I can see growth and I can see good things happening and I can see God working.
It is changing me. Writing down the things that I do and that God does actually speeds up the change in every area of my life. Awareness is an accelerator and a catalyst, for it brings clarity and conviction which ultimately makes me more intentional, simply by giving me a third-person perspective that I would not otherwise have.
How I am doing it, however, is remarkably simple. I am noticing what God is doing. I am noticing what I am doing. I am saying "yes" to living a life that is truly life and "no" to a life that is just empty noise.
Who would have thought that writing down what happens could do so much?