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Journaling can help set you free from the evil that seeks to poison your heart. A heart that strains to pump blood isn’t healthy. Likewise, failure to express the emotions that weigh on your heart also weakens your heart.
Have you ever been so confined that you felt like you were suffocating? If you stuff your feelings, that’s a panic attack waiting to happen. What can help you breathe again? Writing can help you to restore your mental and emotional health.
When I was a young child, maybe 4 years old, my parents had a nightstand with sliding front doors. I liked crawling inside this fortress and enjoying the safety of the enclosed space.
On one particular day, after I had grown some more, I wanted to visit this fort again. I remembered it being fun, but there wasn’t much room left for me to fit inside. I squeezed in anyway.
Once inside, every part of my body pressed against the outer walls, the floor, the ceiling, and even the door. I could barely slide the last door shut. And as soon as I did, I started to panic. I felt so cramped I believed I wasn’t going to be able to get out. I started to breathe faster and all I could feel was my hot breath. As much as I wanted to enjoy the experience, I was desperate to get out.
That must be what claustrophobia feels like. Or what a baby about to be born experiences.
The doors didn’t shut tight, but I had to work to pull back from one of them so I could slide it open. After I inched the door open enough, I banged around to force myself into the opening. Fresh cool air entered my lungs.
I was once small enough to fit inside comfortably. But after that experience, I never went inside again. I went in voluntarily, but sometimes life can have a way of forcing you back into too small a place – a place you don’t fit or belong.
People Can Restrict Your Heart
Sometimes your own choices restrict your heart. Sometimes other people confine your heart. Either way injures your heart.
Goliath, an enemy of God’s people, blocked God’s desire for His people. No one in King Saul’s army wanted to fight him. David was willing but without any battle armor. Saul offered his armor, but it severely restricted David’s movement. David didn’t need Saul’s armor to fight Goliath. Instead, he fought Goliath in the name of the living God (1 Samuel 17:38-40).
Well-intentioned people can box you in. They’re trying to help, but they don’t recognize who you are. They want to help, but their help only weighs you down even more.
Other people aren’t so well-intentioned. They have a destructive agenda for your life. They use and abuse you (sometimes literally) if you give them the opportunity. They take what they want for their own gain. The more you let them take, the more they will take.
Your enemy the devil shows mercy to no one. He wants nothing more than to restrict all people from knowing Jesus and living a fulfilled life.
Journaling Helps Free Your Heart From Emotional Restrictions
You can use writing to throw off restrictions that aren’t a part of who God made you
Evil wants to bind you up, twist and contort you until you look nothing like yourself. Evil wants to confine you to a box smaller than you are. You can effectively forget who you are. Or, the restrictive environment prevents you from knowing who you really are.
Journaling can help you find who you are. But if you want it to work, you have to go about it a certain way. Hold on a second. I’m not trying to box you in
The best way to journal is your way. Your best behaviors will derive from who God says you are. Your heart contains the riches of your God-given identity. That’s why God says to guard your heart.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.Proverbs 4:23
But a stopped-up well isn’t healthy. To heal, try expressing who you are on your journal pages. You can’t become well using someone else’s words. It’s worth the effort to find your voice.
Sure, you can experiment with other’s styles. You can start by imitating others, but eventually, you must put your story into your words in the way only you can express them. Maybe you won’t even have words at first. Maybe some scribbles, doodles, or diagrams will help you unlock who you really are.
When you stare at a blank page and you’re not sure what to write, that could be because you’re trying to write right instead of write true. What you put on the page at first might not best represent you, but it’s a start. That desire to be authentic counts. It counts a lot.
If you’re ready, take a moment to pray. Tell God you want to make contact with the real you. God help me unbox my life. Help me unplug the wellspring of my heart
A boxed-up life can be painful to open up. A stopped-up heart needs to release some poison before the pure water starts flowing. The pain you’re experiencing points to the real you hidden beneath the hurtful experiences. In other words, you hurt because there’s a real person in there somewhere. You can write to find that person.
The pain isn’t the problem. Pain is part of the solution to help you find your way out of the darkness and out of the lies you believe about yourself.
What’s in your heart? Take time now to look inside and write about what comes up from the deep. Unbox your heart for the glory of God.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.