Importance of Keeping a Journal

Keeping a Journal
Keeping a Journal. Photo by Rachel Bruner

Keeping a journal is important because it's a commandment from the Lord through his prophets. President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal." (Family Home Evening Resource Book, Lesson Ideas, Journals, 199)

Not only did President Kimball admonish us to keep a journal, but he was also a perfect example. His personal history already contained 33 journals when he was called to be President of the Church in 1973.

Try, Try, Again!

One of my favorite journal entries was when I was 11 years old. I hadn't written in my journal for over a year and wrote, "I have been very upset about not writing in my..." the rest of the page is blank and the next entry wasn't until two years later. Although it took me several years to get into the habit of writing consistently in a journal I have come to learn the value of recording my personal history. So if you haven't written for a long time, don't worry about it, just pick up a pen and start journaling today!

Why Write Now?

You may ask, "Why not wait until I'm older to compile a summary of my life?"

Here's President Kimball's answer:

"Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available. Your private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity. Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant. Your journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them." ("President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals," New Era, Dec. 1980, 26)

What to Write

"Begin today," President Kimball said, "and write... your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. We hope you will do this... for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives." (Speaks Out)

Not Just a Record

A journal is not just a book to keep a record of our lives; it's also a tool that can help us! The article, "Discover Yourself: Keep a Journal" says: "A journal can also be a tool for self-evaluation and self-improvement. 'We examine our lives as we come to know ourselves through our journals,' says Sister Bell [assistant professor of English at BYU]. 'Even if you take your journal and go back a year, you learn things about yourself you didn't know at the time. You understand things about yourself.'" (Janet Brigham, Ensign, Dec. 1980, 57)

Be True To Yourself

President Spencer W. Kimball also taught, "Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are "made up" for a public performance. There is a temptation to paint one’s virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative.... The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative." (Speaks Out)

The Value of Keeping a Journal

President Kimball said, "People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life's experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted." (Speaks Out)

As I read back through my journals I have found true treasures and if you follow the Lord's commandment to keep a journal you and your posterity will be blessed for your efforts!

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Your Citation
Bruner, Rachel. "Importance of Keeping a Journal." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Bruner, Rachel. (2020, August 26). Importance of Keeping a Journal. Retrieved from Bruner, Rachel. "Importance of Keeping a Journal." Learn Religions. (accessed March 30, 2023).