Reading and writing soothe my soul, even if the scenes that I'm reading or writing about aren't always pretty or even happy. They're always scenes however that make for good soul work. I focus on events and characters and they teach me about human wisdom and foolishness, humor and self-pity, compassion and self-absorption, love and selfishness, courage and cowardice.
In other words, I am enlightened. That enlightenment takes me to the beautiful, far country of self-knowledge and God knowledge.
Someone long ago taught me that writing about my life in a diary or journal is good soul work. Telling my story, with its own characters and events, letting my thoughts and emotions flow, either peaceful as this waterfall or as wild and unfettered as Niagara Falls, frees me from self-deceptions. The real me emerges from hiding.
In paying attention to the people, events, thoughts, and emotions that make up my life, I'm paying attention to and sometimes even discovering, their deepest meanings for me. Thoughts and feelings need to be released so that they don't possess us - we possess them. Thoughts and emotions are neither good nor bad - they just ARE. It's what we do with them once we've acknowledged their presence that counts.
So often, curled up in a quiet place, I've started to write about something that's happened or that I'm concerned about, and what comes out of my pen amazes me. Who knew that that thought or feeling was inside me? That fault, that virtue, that motivation? I didn't, until my taking time to rest and write allowed it to surface. And I write everything down, even those thoughts and feelings that I may be ashamed of or frightened of.
Acknowledging all of me TO me keeps me honest, with myself and with God.
Often enough, after I've vented on paper, I find the words "God, help me with this! Please!" flowing onto the paper next. Or a profound "Thank you, God!" I'm both venting and praying. Isn't that what the Psalms are? My journal is my book of personal psalms, my prayers of anger or grief or anxiety or complaining or questioning or thanking or praising. And the great thing is, it IS mine. It IS me!
A few times, I've thrown my journals out after I've filled them. I've been afraid of suddenly dying and having someone discover my private self. After I "got all that out of my system," that journal's work was done. And I was into a new phase of my life. That me had been acknowledged and let go of and I was a stronger, wiser person now because of those storms and griefs and rages and prayers.
Sometimes, I've looked through my saved journals' pages from years before describing previous crises, trials, anxieties, and questions, and from today's vantage point, I can look back and see my growth in faith. I know now the ways in which God answered those prayers and helped me resolve those crises and questions. Or I can read about an event or dream that I'd forgotten about that showed God's hand at work, right then and there.
However you express yourself best - writing, drawing, singing, playing an instrument, for example, - use it to express to yourself and God your deepest self, especially at the most critical times of your life. You will amaze and inspire and challenge yourself in ways you can never imagine! You will re-discover the beautiful, far country of your own soul.
"Hear my words, O Lord; listen to my sighing. Hear my cry for help, my king, my God! .... All who take refuge in You will be glad and forever shout for joy." (Psalm 5).