How to Find Hope in the Remembering

How to Find Hope in the Remembering

Some of my most valuable possessions are in a plastic box with a snap top. It sits on a shelf in my garage surrounded by Christmas decorations, out-of-season clothes, and old VHS tapes. As I prepared to clean out the garage last week, I pulled my treasure chest off the shelf. Because it’s stuffed full, the top opened with a pop. There, tumbling out, came three-ring binders, spiral notebooks, and decorative journals—two decades of memories.

I can’t recall the number of diaries I started and abandoned in my childhood. With three younger siblings, nothing was safe—not even the secrets I kept locked in my rainbow diary from Woolworth. I started journaling seriously the summer before my senior year of high school. I struggled to untangle my teenage thoughts and felt as though my prayers bounced off the popcorn ceiling in my bedroom. Prayer journaling seemed like the ideal way to work through my thoughts.

It started off simply enough, with prayers about friend drama, a difficult relationship within my family, and college decisions. As the years progressed, so did my prayers. I prayed that a certain young man might fall in love with me (or that God would help me fall out of love with him). After that same man married me, my prayers centered around learning to be a godly wife and paying the bills with our meager income.

The years that followed included prayers for healing from a major illness, strength to endure the long wait for a baby, and wisdom as we became homeowners for the first time. One journal holds multiple handwritten versions of Psalm 51 as I worked to accept and understand God’s forgiveness for the broken road I had traveled.

Once my daughter was born, the time between entries grew longer. Quick scribbles begging for perseverance marked my struggling transition into motherhood. Some years, my prayers mingled with introspective Bible study notes. Other entries are purely survival, like watermarks on the wall after a flood. My most recent journals record my pleas for wisdom as I parent and for direction as I discover my passion and purpose.

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Photo courtesy of The Glorious Table, credit to Ilya Ilyukhin.