I have need to repent. No, this will not be an all-inclusive confession but I have felt an strong urge to make an improvement in my life specifically in the area of journal writing. I have been setting a very poor example for my children and for others that may or may not know whether I keep a consistent journal. But as my mother would say, "I was raised differently." And she, of course, would be correct. I was raised in a home where journal writing was stressed and where my mother was and still is the queen of journal writing. As a youth, I wrote in my journal at least once a week albeit many times under duress. Nonetheless, my journal "chore" was done. I believed my parents and felt of the importance of keeping a journal. I imagined myself a modern-day Moroni writing to my posterity who would in some future day look back and be grateful that they had a faithful ancestor who shared great wisdom and knowledge through their journal writings. However, the amount of writing I actually did would put me in the same category as Chemish.
Many of my entries revolved around my daily activities and the results of various sporting events in which I had either participated or viewed. I do have some entries that contain who I had a crush on that week and an admission or two of some of my youthful indiscretions. I have read much of my previous entries and the only knowledge I can glean is...on second thought, maybe not.
As a full-time missionary, I believe I improved not only the consistency of my journal writing, but also the content of my entries. Writing a journal became something different - it was more about how keeping a journal helped my development and less about how my writings would help someone else. My journal writing provided a private way to express my feelings and frustrations, to discover and expand my character, and to give substance to my dreams. I continued my journal writing after my mission while I attended undergraduate and graduate school. Gradually, I wrote less and less, sometimes going several months between entries. As the frequency became less and less, I found that the content of my writing became more of the travel log of my youth. Sometimes I would convince myself that I didn't have time to write since it would involve trying to "catch-up" with all the daily happenings. Several years ago, some of my journal writing was entered in this blog as an electronic history of my life and that of my family. But the past couple years, my journal writing has been virtually nonexistent. My time has been occupied by work, family, church, hobbies, media distractions, and a host of other demands.
As my children reached an appropriate age, my wife and I encouraged them to keep a journal. In fact, similar to my own upbringing, we included "Write in your journal" on their list of Sunday duties. Some weeks it is a pleasant experience as they write about the happenings of the week but often it is a struggle as we enforce the rule and try to help them see the value in journal writing. For several months now, my older children have complained about their journal writing and vocally questioned why they should be required to write when I neglected this supposed important duty. I always had a excuse about how busy I was what with my Sunday church duties and the other demands on my time. However, it was just that - an excuse.
In addition to my kids' gentle (or not so gentle) rebuke, I was provided another reminder of my journal neglect when our high councilor spoke last week. His remarks were centered around a talk given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf about refocusing our efforts on things that matter most. I was reminded about how many television shows and sporting events I had made time for while I neglected things that matter most to me or that should matter most to me. Journal writing is one of those neglected items.
I have recommitted myself to keeping a consistent journal. I will make sure my journal writing takes priority over things that don't matter. I know that developing this habit will benefit me and I'm hopeful that my example will help my children see the importance of this latter day commandment.