In August of last year, my mom gave me a journal. But don’t worry, there’s much more to the story than that. When the coronavirus was at its peak last March, and when the world was in complete chaos, my mom decided to start utilizing Walmart’s pick-up option for groceries. She, like many others, was nervous to go inside the store. She loved the convenience of the pick-up option so much that she still uses it now, several months later.
Something you should know about my mom is that she is an avid list-maker. She has old journals full of lists—grocery lists, to-do lists, things to order lists, you name it. She plans her days according to these lists, so naturally, she is able to fill a journal very quickly.
In August of last year, she was in need of a new one, so as she was planning her grocery order for Walmart, she decided to browse the different types of journals they had available. She quickly found one that she loved, so she added it to her cart to be picked up with her groceries the next day.
Something you should know about Walmart pick-up orders is that if they don’t have something in stock from your list, they will give you a replacement item instead. This replacement item is the same product, but it might be a different brand/type than what you were hoping for. Well, that exact thing happened to my mom when she went to pick up her groceries and found that the journal she loved so much was out of stock, so they gave her a different one instead. This one was pink with a gold design on the front. Something else you should know about my mom is that she absolutely despises gold.
Since this journal was not at all what she was expecting, she decided to give it to me. She knows how much I love journals, and I don’t mind pink and gold, so I was more than happy to take it off her hands. At the time she gave it to me, I hadn’t been writing a whole lot. So I tucked it away on my bookshelf and thought, “I’ll use it someday.”
Fast-forward to November, and that journal has turned into one of my most cherished possessions.
Something you should know about me is that I take forever to finish writing in a journal. I usually get bored with the cover or the paper or the feel of it, so I buy a new one before I have even finished the last. But this journal… it’s different.
I started writing in this journal in November. Here we are in January, and I have finished writing in it. Every page is full. Cover to cover. In just two short months.
I had some things happen in my life in November that completely threw me off the path I was traveling. A lot of things fell to pieces around me, and I was left scrambling, trying to pick them all up and put them back together before they ran away forever.
When I go through hard things, my natural response is to write. It always has been, and I have a feeling it always will be. And when my whole world felt like it was falling apart, I clung to this journal more than anything. Tucked away in these pages are every tear-filled conversation I’ve had with God in the last two months. It holds every time I’ve asked Him why, every time I told Him I just could not do this any longer, and every time I told Him I wasn’t the girl for the job. Whatever He was calling me to, and whatever He was trying to show me in my hurting, I told Him that I was not cut out for it. That He should pick someone else.
But then something shifted.
I remember sitting on my bed one night, well past 1 am, with my journal sitting on my lap open in front of me. There were tear stains on the empty pages, my pen was in my hand, and I was looking up at my ceiling asking Him why He had abandoned me.
In that moment, I felt like He whispered to me, “I am meeting you right here. I haven’t left.”
I felt this urge to turn my journal over and examine the cover, and that’s when it hit me.
This journal, the one they gave my mom because the one she wanted was out of stock, is the very same journal that is walking me through one of my most difficult seasons. It’s the very same journal where I have poured my heart out to God, both in questioning and thankfulness, even if it’s thankfulness through tears.
And I felt in awe at that moment. I felt in awe of how creative God is. And I could throw in a line here that says, “He uses the most unexpected things for His good and His glory,” but I have a feeling you’ve heard that line a million times. Instead, I’ll say this: He gets creative with the ways He shows His heart to you. Do you really think it all just happened to work out this way? That the journal my mom wanted was out of stock, so she ended up getting one she didn’t like, which she then gave to me, which I have now poured over in one of my most difficult seasons?
You can believe it’s all luck, but where’s the fun in that? God is creative. And He is all-knowing. He knew back in August that I would be hurting the way I am now in January. He knew what was going to happen in my life in November. And I believe with all my heart that He gifted me this journal Himself. Because within its pages are the hardest conversations with Him I have ever had. But in the same breath I would tell you that within its pages are conversations where I felt more joyful, thankful, and hopeful for my future than I had in a long time. This journal has pages full of a book idea God placed on my heart right after I felt like my life had completely fallen apart. It’s full of chicken scratch handwriting from the moments when I just couldn’t get the ideas down fast enough. There are sticky notes, tab dividers, and bookmarks in multiple places—places I want to be able to flip to easily to see all that God has done in just two short months.
And now, I am left sitting in awe of how invested He is in each of our lives. How He will use something as tiny as an unwanted journal to completely turn a life around. He is creative, and He knows our hearts so well. He knows how much I love to write, and He knew all those months ago what I would need to pull myself out of the many holes I have dug for myself. He knew a journal is what I would need to really dive into conversation with Him. What a beautiful and unexpected gift.
There are two questions I want to leave you with:
1.) What has been your “journal” lately? What unexpected gift has helped turn your life around? One that has pulled you out of the dark places and back into the light?
2.) What unwanted or undesirable things—things that bummed you out or disappointed you—could you use to be a gift to someone around you?
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10, ESV
“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” – Psalm 104:24, NIV
This blog is also available here 🙂 I have the wonderful opportunity to write alongside some lovely ladies for a blog called Encouraging Women. Check out the link and show them some love! They have some wonderful pieces of wisdom to share!