I’m not good at journaling.
I like the idea, but in practice, I’m not very good at it.
I’ve tried so many times – over the three decades I’ve known how to write – to keep a journal. Sometimes it’s a journal on daily or weekly reflections. Sometimes it’s a journal on what I’m reading… or on what I’m eating and how I’m feeling… or thoughts on community development.
The topic varies, but the outcome is generally the same. A few pages in, the entries begin with, “Well, it’s been a couple of months since I wrote anything here…”
Inevitably I give up. Tear the pages out. Set the journal back on the shelf, where it will sit until the next feeble attempt. Some journals have been through this process so many times they don’t have enough pages left to be worth anything. Sadly, they find themselves in the recycling bin.
Several years ago my brother and sister-in-law gave me this journal.
It’s special to me.
And because it’s special to me… and because I have a bad history with journaling… it stayed empty for years.
Because I didn’t want to waste it. I didn’t want to tear any pages out of this journal. I wanted this one to last.
So I waited. I waited for the right subject matter. For whatever it was that would add to this special journal.
Then, on February 24, 2015, I made my first entry.
This entry was titled, “The First Step.” It was the day we got an application for adoption. We had the first (of much) paperwork to fill out… and this seemed like an appropriate use for the journal. The first entry isn’t long. It’s only a page. But it ends with,
“This leg of the journey – the adoption process with forms, home studies, and fundraising – is likely to be a long and frustrating one. But it will be worth it when we finally bring our son(s) and/or daughter(s) home. When we finally bring you home.”
A few entries in, I began addressing them to “my dear children” or “my darlings.” At one point I had to correct myself: “We have discovered that you are not waiting for us in Brazil, but in Ethiopia! That’s ok – we don’t care where we have to go to find you.”
Then, at the end of June 2017, everything changed. My entries started having a name attached to them. And a face. Because they were addressed to an actual person now. Daniel.
That first entry addressed to Daniel begins…
Dear Daniel, Hello. We haven’t met yet, but I (I think) am your dad. Or at least I hope to be soon.
I haven’t gotten much better at journaling. I still go weeks at a time without writing anything. …but now I have a reason to write.
I get to write letters to my son. Someday he’ll read about the fears and frustrations of the adoption process. He’ll read stories about the beautiful ways our family and friends helped bring him home. He’ll see the first picture of himself that I ever saw.
Hopefully he will feel loved by the dad that loved him even before they’d met.
And that seems like a good use for this journal.