Last night I completed an interesting task. Over the past week, I read through seven spiral notebooks written in from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015. I meticulously read or carefully skimmed and took notes from the past 12 months of pages written almost every morning throughout the past year.
There is nothing grand or amazing about this assignment. It took hours to complete. My eyes got tired and my highlighter ran dry. But I was looking to find as much as I could about this past year. Not content to simply "remember," I wanted to truly find out what was important to me and how I had changed in 2015.
Morning Pages are simply a writer's way of dropping his or her angst on the page first thing every morning. I wrote them to check in, to listen, to invite dialogue, to pray. I simply got up out of bed, shuffled to the coffee pot and then to my "writing studio," opened my current notebook and started writing. My goal was purely to take note of my heart. What was I thinking or feeling each morning, fresh from a night's sleep? What, from the day before, needed to be thought through? Could God use my pen as his voice to help me? Would I hear it?
As I read through this year's notebooks, I searched for a few specific things.
- Was I honest with myself? Did I tackle how things really felt, rather than how I thought they should be?
- Did my word, embrace, change over the year? Why did I choose it?
- Were there consistent themes of angst?
- In what ways did I talk to God about my kids using their chosen words?
- Did I ally myself? Was I a friend; or was I a bully? Was I on my side, or not.
- Had God spoken to me through this daily practice?
- Were there changes in me over a year's time?
I will simply say that I have learned much.
Many websites and various ministries offer ways to "evaluate your year" but none better than this. It's like going to the horse's mouth, so to speak. I went straight to the source to hear from my own pen, how my heart was faring on a daily basis. I wanted to know how I had responded to myself and the concerns that showed themselves on the page. I was digging to see if I lived out what I teach others about the amazing work of Morning Pages.
I came to some conclusions.
- I think I will always be tempted in some way toward inadequacy. Recognize my words - tempted toward - not sucked in, not taken over.
- I have fussed enough about writing. Get in the chair and WRITE, already!!
- I have prayed well for my husband and children.
- 2015 was the year I journeyed in prayer. Books read, sermons heard, prayer meetings attended, and daily personal practice have taught me more than I ever intended to seek out. Prayer seemed to find me.
- Desperation leads to magnificent growth.
- God speaks when He wants to.
- Sometimes "depression" is part of "preparation."
- "Dark seasons stop me. They make me small so He can be big."
- I am brave and rarely back down from an opportunity to grow or to try.
- I am surrounded by God's favor as a shield. He knows me. He delights in me. I can rest in being His beloved. This is big. It changes everything. It stops the lurking question, "Am I lovable?" "Am I enough?" "Is what I do or write or say, significant?" Of course it is. I am held close and safe by the One who knows and loves me. How can I not move freely and confidently within that haven of protection?
- My favorite and most powerful ministry, the one I am best equipped for, is one-on-one across the table with a cup of coffee and a scone in my hand. Some of the most delightful moments in my year were lived out in this way.
- Spiritual attacks happen when we risk for God. But when we know how the enemy custom designs his assaults, we can be prepared.
- I am a servant here. I am not called to shine or perform. I'm here to serve, to love and to shower grace.
- Joy arrives in unexpected packages. Oh yes.
- When God gets the first word, we get an earful.
I could go on and on. These pages are FULL of wisdom, questions, fussing, fear, lament, joy, discovery, delight and truth. God has indeed used my pen to reveal himself. Being a good friend to myself, I feel I have listened well. This end of the year review has led me to remember that I am loved, known and protected, even as I walked through some long, hard and desperate days.
This task was well worth my time and a new highlighter. I'm stepping up to another year of Morning Pages. Are you interested in learning more about them? Let me know in a comment and I'll get back to you!