This is in response to why I keep a journal.
I am sure you are a fine teacher. It would be fun to watch and listen to you. I am sure you do much better than what you think. I am glad you are enjoying it. You commented about that in your last e-mail. You have an excitement about life and are an optimist. That is a good thing and it shows cords of faith worked throughout your character.
Thanks for asking for comments now. You have asked a question about a topic that I have come to have a testimony of and have been converted to. In the path of time though, I found it hard to have a reason from the gospel for a journal, so it has been a search since I started my journal. I started my journal on the 31st of August 1997. I had just graduated from high school that summer and right before moving up to Logan for school, a couple of friends and I went shopping in Twin Falls. While there, Altan Hardcastle, a great friend of mine, wanted to stop at Barnes and Noble. We walked through the store and I saw the journals on the shelf there. The thought crossed my mind that I needed to start a journal. I grabbed one of the shelf, passed out the 12.99 for it, and took it home. I pretty much kept it hidden from them and anticipated getting home. I was not quite sure why. They dropped me off at home, I went downstairs to my room, and started to write. I have been regularly writing in my journal ever since. The current journal, Amanda purchased and sent to me just about a month back, is number 16. I have averaged two a year ever since then. In the two years of the mission, I kept 5. Before the mission it was just about every day. The shortest journal I have ever kept was during that time frame and it covered 3 months. The last journal covered about 8 months. Life now doesn’t have as much happen during the week. I have found that when I am caught in a schedule like work, much of the activities to report become mundane. However, you let me have the time to myself and I am always finding new things to experience and record. It has been a sort of goal to always have something new to record and report. So why did I start? I can only say it was a prompting I acted upon and have continued. However, I have since then found many reasons for continuing. I will give you a bunch of scriptures and my personal ties to them. Hopefully you find this of some value.
2 Nephi 29:11-12, “For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.”
Well from the above, it is a commandment. When the Lord speaks to us, he expects us to write it. I have always made a point of making sure I record all the spiritual experiences and how life is (as much as I feel I can or am allowed to record) I attempt to point out my blessings and look at life as one big one. I try to make sure that I point out my blessings and life’s course as a blessing from heaven. In doing so, the blessing comes that I am more fully capable of recognizing my blessings, and more importantly of what I am doing with the blessings.
Next, the Lord expects us to record his doings that he may judge all men according to the things which are written. I attempt to record all of those individuals who bless my life and who I recognize for their faith and good works. I attempt to analyze and portray those who are good and their redeeming qualities. For those who do bad things, are dishonest, I make sure I record them as well. While in doing so, I always attempt to find redeeming qualities, not focusing on the bad, but always telling of my interactions with other people. Especially those, good or bad, that have great bearing on my life. I honestly believe that people will be held accountable for those things in relation to even me, the least of brethren, in the day of reckoning. Plus there is always some of that self interest in there as well. I feel that if I am recording my thoughts and actions and perceptions, the Lord will be more likely to judge me by the books I record than that of other people. My own witness is more powerful than others when it comes directly to myself. Now the thought is always brought up, “Well, you will be able to speak at that day.” Yes, that may be true, but the evidence at that time, while with a body, is the greatest evidence. But there is a great power in the written word as opposed to the spoken word. Elder Packer told us as missionaries that if a persons baptism and confirmation was not recorded on earth, it was not recorded in heaven, even if they really had been baptized and confirmed. Without that record, they would have to be baptized and confirmed again. Hence those early pioneers that the records cannot be found concerning their baptism, their work is done for them again so that there is a record. I believe much of a similar thing is true of our world today. The written is very important.
Lastly concerning this scripture, I recognize that many people later will read these things. I would like to make sure my character and life are recorded for those who come after me who may be interested in knowing of me. Whether they be family, or people interested in a certain place, or just a random Idahoan. I would like my testimony, works, life all recorded so that my witness will stand up against anyone else who may wish to say otherwise.
As a comment, the journals have already come into valuable use in my life. With the murder of Meta by my mother, I was a suspect for a while. When it was shown I was not a suspect, but that I had dealings with the murderer, the journals with their testimony allowed me to give my testimony without having to be present. Those journals, still in the possession of the state, provided a character witness for my mother for the years of my life. My dealings with my mother during my time at Utah State were nearly all recorded. They provided a character witness that my mother was indeed the type of person that could do these things. The threats that she had made to me were real and what is more important they were not memories or hearsay given at the pulpit. There were recorded incidences and times written at that time concerning topics that were in question. Those journals made it possible that if the trial had gone on, I was not required to come home from the mission field. The testimony in those journals was actually of more value to the court than were my living witness after the fact. While I had nothing to do with the events, I would not have testified concerning them, but the events leading up to and comments were all recorded already. That is one powerful blessing in this life, and I am sure those journals will come to play in my own judgment and the lives of others later.
In keeping with the above, due to the fact that we believe in a resurrection and a judgment, I believe there is great solace in this fact. That even though I may have been wronged in the greatest of ways, by recording them and leaving to the master judge, I have no need of carrying them myself. Even though there are those who would have taken my life, all animosity, all grief, all pain, all anguish, all sorrow, have been left behind and healed by the fact that I could write them down unto God. They were not my burdens, I was recording them before the Lord, and I need not worry about them anymore as that he would take care of them. My comment after the murder and other events was simply, “Why carry them, when I can give them away to the pages of a book?” Classic comments like “fools mock, but they shall mourn” (Ether 12:26) are brought more fully to life. “And ye ought to say in your hearts–let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds” (D&C 64:11). By recording them, and leaving them to be before them and the Lord, I find I can move on with my life. If they repent not, that is between them and the Lord.
The commandment is written elsewhere too. 3 Nephi 27:23, “Write the things which ye have seen and heard, save it be those which are forbidden.” As I commented before, inasmuch I felt I could write it, all those things which were spiritual and important to me are recorded.
3 Nephi 5:16-17, “Therefore I do make my record from the accounts which have been given by those who were before me, until the commencement of my day; And then I do make a record of the things which I have seen with mine own eyes.” Here is another reason why I keep a journal.
Over a year ago, I stumbled upon a copy of my Grandmother’s journal. I did not even know that she had kept one at any point in her life. I was able to borrow it for a space of time and I went through the whole thing. Due to the fact that I could not keep it, plus the owner of it I could not trust, I set out to record all those events from the journal I thought were of note to record. I literally filled scores of pages in my journal with excerpts of the pages of my grandmother’s journal. In reading her journal I was profoundly glad she had kept this journal for three years of her life while she was in high school. The time when I was of most wanting to learn of her life, she was gone. I never really had the opportunity when I was alive to learn from her because I was not ready. Even though I had her journal, she never wrote more than two sentences per day. Oh what I would have given for her to have written four or five pages a day! Or kept the two sentences a day for 10 years rather than just those three years ending a few days after she got married. What I would not have given to go back and counsel her to write twice as much as she did at that time. How much I yearn to know of her life, but she was not mindful enough of coming generations to record what she thought was a boring mediocre day to day life. How terribly wrong she was (if she thought that).
Herein lies two lessons. Oh what I would have given as a later generation to have had more. What I would have given to know her more in person, but since I couldn’t, the next best thing is her own writing. While others can tell me about them, they cannot tell me the exact thoughts and writings of the individual. It is a great family history tool for those who will come after. But also in referencing what Mormon wrote above (a different Mormon than the abridger of the Book of Mormon) he was taking the history from other histories and piecing them in his. I went through and took the important highlights of her life and recorded them into my own journal. Since I knew her journal may be lost or never again found, I recorded those things which I considered most precious and desirable above all else (sounds like why the Book of Mormon was compiled as it was! Oh it is that very reason why it was compiled). I wanted to record those things from before me for the generations after me to possess. What is more, I don’t just do it from the writings of others, but I try to record every story I hear about my ancestors. Especially those from my aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, grandfather, ect. I have recorded my Grandpa’s war stories. Ever time he would tell me one, I would try and record it in my journal. Even with all the dirty details. Since it affected me, I record it. It obviously affected him, especially for him to remember it 50 years later. The stories and journals I keep are not just mine, but they tell of the lives of my family and of those living in my times. They give background information and tell the tale of the era. For example, my recording that I gave away copies of the Book of Mormon in Senator Smith’s office automatically assumes responsibility for myself and the others in the office for have even been in the vicinity as the truth. Each of us will now have to act and be judged according. My failure to act, or their failure to act is all recorded. Hopefully those who come afterwards will learn many things and be wiser than I.
3 Nephi 24:16, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”
3 Nephi 26:6, “And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people.”
Revelations 20:12-13, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”
I always hear people commenting about how they will speak for themselves when the day comes. There are those who claim they will be testifying against others at the day of judgment. However, in most of my searching, while not exhausting, I cannot find us speaking or testifying at that day. All I can ever find is the records of those who were on the earth. It appears our lives are judged according to the things which were already written, not our testimony at the last day. The records of the church are obviously important, the temple records, the ordinance records, and of course the official records of our life. But what about those Judges of Israel who keep a faithful record of our dealings with our fellow man. What about those records of how well we served in our callings. What about the testimony of those who were about us. What about the testimony about those who were our family? They will all be important as well. Tainted, perhaps. Wrong, perhaps. But when compared with the whole host of all the records kept, I am sure a pretty clear painting will emerge from our lives without a witness being called to vocally speak.
Jeremiah 30:2, “Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.”
Moses 6:5, “And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration.” Verse 8, “Now this prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and a genealogy was kept of the children of God. And this was the book of generations of Adam, saying: In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;” Verse 22, “And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God himself, conversed.” Verse 46, “For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language.”
Here is a reference of all the scriptures of which I have linked to 2 Nephi 29.
3 Nephi 27:23
3 Nephi 5:8-14
3 Nephi 23:13
3 Nephi 29:16
All of this is wrapped up in D&C 128:6-8 which I will not type up since it is so long. However, all of which I spoke of concerning the judgment is clearly delineated.
Now, the last two points I wish to make.
First deals with the perspective and analysis of life. In the writing and recording of life as it goes along, we have to view the inscription as we write it. We have to take the thoughts and present them in a fashion which requires us to place them as if we were recording them for another person to understand. As we place our thoughts upon the page, we get a glimpse of who we are and of our thinking. We can see our shortcomings, we can see our weaknesses, we can see our view of the world, and we can see nearly aspect of ourselves. All things are constantly being brought into our view because we are literally interpreting our thoughts and actions for others to browse. We can be dishonest, which I admit I do sometimes by leaving out information or tweaking things slightly, or face the harsh truth. I have learned it is most difficult for me to be completely honest with my journal. But to do so with myself I have found that achieving that means I don’t care about being honest with others. If I can be honest with myself, and not fear what others will think of me in the silent pages of my own journal, then surely another person will not phase me. When I can achieve honesty with myself, I have little or no difficulty in doing so with others. I can tell when my thoughts are coherent, and when they are not. Over time I have really struggled to place feelings and thoughts into the structure of words. This is a talent and a gift which must be nurtured. Learning to explain myself not only physically but also spiritually has become a great liberator. By coming up with the words and strength of being able to communicate them, I am more able to understand and fathom my thoughts. I learn many things about myself, my experiences, and all aspects by placing them into words. That medium allows us to structure our lives and to analyze and view with accuracy more fully everything about us. As we can do with ourselves, it becomes more easy to discern all things, of the spirit, and of other people. Your comments about my ability to analyze people is directly attributable to my journal writing. I am also watching for detail so that in describing my life and actions to the silent listeners in my journal, I find I am more aware of my surroundings and all things that take place. It is a great liberator.
Now in a side note, I will not touch much upon, one of the classic stories of those who are trying to lead a people into oblivion is to remove their language. By removing their ability to express themselves, they are less likely to understand themselves, and when they cannot understand themselves, then they can be more easily molded and lead into a certain way of thinking. Current trends of watering down language and not seeking to know the English language is a dangerous field. The English language was considered the great liberator, but as we lose our own language, we also lose our liberty. Just some extra thoughts which have more to do with education and politics than with the spiritual reasons of journal writing.
Second deals with the memory. As I record things, I find that I have a reference for the future to recall. Those things which are recorded I have little or no difficulty in recording down the road. Even aspects of life on the journal may be entirely forgotten. However, breaking open the book from 1998 and reading just a little bit, I can bring back with clarity and clearness events that happen then that are not contained in the journal. Often when I do review, I will record the extra memories for later generations. My memory I believe is what it is because I have a framework of a past which is remembered. Since it is remembered, the framework is greater for which to analyze the events of the present. The memory is a powerful thing. Plus by writing down the links and thoughts which are in our minds allows for us to place in language the structure of those thoughts and we can analyze them in a new light of whether they are still able to connect one with another. It is a great tool of remembering all things.
Anyhow, those are my thoughts about journal writing. If you have more questions, please let me know. If I think of anything else, I will respond and send them to you. I have given you quite a few scriptures to work with, some examples which will hopefully recall some of your own. You are free to use some of my own if you wish.