Often people advocate the use of journaling as a way to clear the air. To get all those bad thoughts out of our system so they don’t poison us. Truth journaling is different. You’re still spilling your thoughts out, but for the purpose of examining them and bringing them captive to the truth.
It’s a practical application of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
The best way to learn how to truth journal is to just jump in and give it a try. Picture yourself in this situation: Your house is a mess, you have a million things to do, and the day ahead looks dreary. You should be working on your to-do list, but what you really want to do is break your boundaries and have a bowl of ice cream. Let’s try truth journaling.
Step One: Spill Out Your Thoughts
Begin by spilling your thoughts out onto the pages of your journal. This usually takes me less than a minute. I end up with maybe six or seven sentences.
These aren’t “Let’s see, what am I thinking?” sorts of thoughts. They’re gut level thoughts. In fact, you may even know they’re untrue as you write them. Here’s what I would write in my journal for the above example:
My life is a wreck. I’ll never be able to get anything done. I’m such a loser. I can’t believe I put everything off for so long. I think I’ll have some ice cream. That will make me feel better.
Can you see what a jumble my thoughts are? I’m not organizing them first. I’m just spilling them out onto the paper. It took me about 30 seconds.
Step Two: Number your thoughts.
The next thing you do is number each sentence. This will force you to look at each thought, rather than the whole overwhelming situation. This isn’t natural. Our tendency is to focus on the big picture.
We come up with a conclusion—my life is a wreck, for example—and then we think of all the dumb things we’ve ever done that prove that our life is a wreck. This just solidifies our conclusion that things really are bad.
Satan loves that. He wants us to think of life and people—and ourselves—in terms of black and white. Either we’re wonderful—or we’re terrible. And of course he would prefer terrible since he’s the condemner of the saints (Revelations 12:10).
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 how to fight Satan’s attacks: take each thought captive. Let’s do that. Think of each sentence as a thought. If it’s a long sentence, you may want to break it up into a couple of thoughts. We’ll begin by numbering our sentences:
1. My life is a wreck. 2. I’ll never be able to get anything done. 3. I’m such a loser. 4. I can’t believe I put everything off for so long. 5. I think I’ll have some ice cream. 6. That will make me feel better.
Next, we’ll look at each sentence—one at a time—to see if it’s true or false. If it’s true, we’ll write true. If it’s false—or only half-true—we’ll rewrite it so it’s all the way true. Satan is the master of the partial truth so we’ll often find thoughts that are somewhat true, but not all the way true. Keep your eye out for those thoughts.
Step Three: Write the Truth for Each Lie
The next step is one that will take a little practice: write the truth for each lie. This is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t always recognize lies when we see them. And second, it may take some thinking to figure out the truth.
Sometimes we’ve been believing lies for so long that it’s hard to recognize them. That’s why it’s so important to look at your sentences one at a time. It’s easier to see the lie in one sentence than it is to see a lie in a whole paragraph. So close your mind to the rest of the paragraph and just focus on that one particular sentence.
For example, if I’m looking at the sentence “My life is a wreck,” in light of the rest of the paragraph, I would say, “Yes, my life is a wreck. Look at how inept I am.” But if I look at that sentence all by itself, I can see the truth, “My life isn’t a wreck at all. In fact, it’s a pretty good life, overall.”
If you have a hard time knowing if a sentence is true, picture Jesus standing in front of you. Would he say, “Barb, your life is a wreck”? No, He wouldn’t. He would say, “Barb, your life is a gift. You have so many things to be thankful for.” And then He might point out a few things.
Let me show you how I would truth journal the example we just looked at. To make it easier to follow, I’ll record the truth after each sentence. Here goes:
1. My life is a wreck.
Truth: My life is not a wreck. Yes, it’s not perfect. But it’s not a wreck either. I have a wonderful God, a wonderful family, a wonderful ministry, and I live in a wonderful place. I am blessed.
2. I’ll never be able to get anything done.
Truth: God is changing me, and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. He’ll help me get things done when they need to get done. I don’t need to worry. His grace is sufficient for me.
3. I’m such a loser.
Truth: I’m not a loser. I’m a delightful child of God. His beloved. His bride. His workmanship. He exults over me with love. He loves me as I am. He doesn’t require me to be perfect in order for Him to love me. (See Insecurity Bible verses.)
4. I can’t believe I put everything off for so long.
Truth: I don’t know why I can’t believe it since I often put things off for this long!
5. I think I’ll have some ice cream.
Truth: I think not! That would be crazy. If I eat ice cream this early in the morning, I’ll be eating all day. It would be far better to wait and have a bowl this evening.
6. That will make me feel better.
Truth: For about FIVE MINUTES!!!! I will be much better off if I just GET TO WORK and start getting things done. Think how good I would feel! I think I’ll start right now.
Do you see how truth journaling would make me actually want to say no to the ice cream and get started on my to-do list? Truth journaling is a practical way to bring our thoughts captive to the truth. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Note: This post is an excerpt from one of the daily studies in Taste for Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study.