Somewhere around the end of the year I usually read through some of my journal. This year I seem to have written more than in the combined previous two years. Obviously the new pen inspired me! Some of what is written is deeply personal and I hope no-one ever reads it, although I guess when I'm long gone it might provide an interesting insight into the vague wanderings of my mind and emotions.
The year began with lots of entries around the topic of moving on. I really struggled with not being able to talk it all through with the church. I know it would have been more difficult if I'd have told everyone up front what was happening, but that didn't make the not telling any easier. Maybe I'm just unusual, but if I could have found a way I would have made the journey something we all shared.
Perhaps, if you're in a similar position this year, and if you asked me what I thought, then I think I'd say that if the question is do I go or stay, then you can probably involve one or two in the process and maybe more if relationships are good and they understand. If it's just a matter of having decided it's time to move, then wait until you know when and where before you start telling people. Fortunately I was surrounded by a great group of ministry friends who helped me reflect and who prayed with me. Bless them.
With hindsight I can honestly say that I didn't realise how much of an impact we'd made during our time in Bedford. We built some great relationships and we have never felt quite so loved as we did the day we said our goodbyes. I hope every ministry ends as well as ours in Cotton End did.
As the summer approached it became more about the transition and making the move. Eventually we moved in September, and a new ministry began.
My journal is full of all sorts of things. About how weird the book of Daniel gets, irritations over blocked ears and odd 'phone calls from complete strangers perturbed by a documentary and wanting to know about Christian faith as a result. There are deep questions and there are trivial questions. There are prayers and funny stories, and not enough of both! Maybe in 2010 I'll make sure I write down the funnier things of life and ministry, if only to balance out the tough days.
If you don't journal, do give it a try. And persevere. Don't just say it's not for you because you don't write anything for weeks on end and then don't know what to write. I think it took me several restarts and two or three years to get into the habit, a habit I'm still working on and developing.
There is no secret to journalling, you just have to make a start and stick with it. You will be surprised how it helps, especially if you take the time to review. Big themes from your life will emerge, trust me, I know. As I reread my journal one year I realised just how much I'd written about frustration and decided that I needed to refocus my attention in a more healthy way. Without my journal I would probably never have done that.
If I have one personal secret it's having a nice fountain pen with which to write. I love writing in ink. It's not the neatest handwriting, but it just one of those things I like to do. I don't use the pen for anything else, and so if I want to use my fountain pen I have to write in my journal. That keeps me writing.
So go out and buy an A5 wire-bound notebook and make a start. Tomorrow might be the first day of a great journalling journey!