Sometime in our first year or two, I read an article, I think in Reader's Digest, about the joy an older couple had in reading the journals they kept of their years together. Shortly after Lucas was born in 77, I began. I really did not know how. It was not a "Dear Diary" outpouring of thoughts and emotions, just a daily record of the things we did and sometimes what we thought about them. Each year, we bought a 200 page college ruled notebook and keep a day on one side of each page. For momentous events sometimes more than one side was needed. Dene added her bit sometimes but it was not until the boys were in high school that she became regular. Sometimes, I got behind and had to write events a week or more in the past. Now, we both write every evening.
And we have enjoyed reading them. They serve as a check on memory as both of us have been wrong about sequence of events and we each forget about the same number of things. Some things we had not recalled pop back in memory as clear as yesterday yet we wonder about some of the others. We have used hard cards to create a table of contents for each year and are current up to 2019. We learned the balance to keep it on one card plus half the back. We find many more wonderful memories than we find in our photographs of the same years.
One cannot repent specifically of all his sins. I recorded with satisfaction something I had done to Dene and how right I was to do that. When I reread that day this time through (not our first reading), I was smitten with remorse. I was proud of myself then. I was so right! With years of spiritual growth I now know I sinned. Of course I both repented and apologized to her right then. But, I had completely forgotten about doing this act. Had I not read it in the journal, no matter how spiritual I became, I could never have specifically repented of this sin I did not remember. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. We all grow. We know better than we once did. Our memories fail us regarding all the things we need to repent. We join the Tax Collector, "God be merciful to me, a sinner" (Lk 18:13).
We have no way to know which events were God working through us and which were our own wills. I am often astounded at how much preaching/teaching I did, how many good and kind deeds, etc. I am just as surprised at how many foolish things I said and did. I can see no pattern. Many say, "God has a better plan for you" to comfort someone after a personal disaster. On the other hand, that disaster (sin?) may have slammed doors in God's face and made insurmountable roadblocks to his plans for us. We see no pattern when we read for we have no ability to know how things might have worked had we made different choices, had bad things not happened, etc.
One constant we see in our past is a steadfast devotion to God. Our faith has been the basis of all our decisions whether we proclaimed such or even discussed it in that manner. Yes, we made bad decisions and bad choices but we did so in good faith efforts to serve God. However, our memories without the journals do not always see it that way. They have been a comfort to our souls.
Taking personal stock is always beneficial, as well as learning from the past. This journal has helped us do just that.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Ps 139:23-24).