“The Things of My Soul,” Ensign, Mar. 2005, 62–63
I remember being invited to visit my grandmother on my birthday one year while I was in college. “Christy,” she said, “I want you to hear something.” She left the room and returned with the journal she had kept the year of my birth. Then she read details I had never before heard. I found out that my older brother had been quarantined at Grandma’s house with the chicken pox and that my nursery had been a decorated closet in my parents’ tiny one-bedroom apartment. My grandmother also shared with me the thoughts and feelings she recorded at my birth—her first granddaughter.
When I was engaged to be married, I visited my grandmother again. This time she pulled out the journal from her first year of marriage and shared with me some of the amusing details of her and Grandpa’s first apartment. They had to walk through the landlord’s bedroom to get to the only bathroom. She also shared her expressions of self-doubt as a new wife. I was surprised to know she had not always felt confident, and I appreciated learning her feelings since I was about to become a new wife.
My grandmother left me a great legacy. Her example in keeping a detailed journal has inspired me, and over the last 20 years I have tried to write each week, recording not only names, dates, quotations, or conversations, but also my thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams—“the things of my soul” (2 Ne. 4:15).
Because of this record, I vividly remember my marriage day and the births of my children; the feelings I had sitting among boxes, anticipating a move from college to my husband’s first job in Los Angeles; the anguish of frantically searching and praying for a two-year-old separated from us in the brush next to a rushing river. I recall what it felt like to have my husband lay his hands on my fevered head and for me to recover. I remember peeling potatoes, my eyes full of tears at the joyful news of a once less-active brother being ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. And I cherish the memory of later having the opportunity to hug him in the Los Angeles Temple after his sealing. This chronicle has helped me savor the memories of many wonderful times in my life.
Keeping a journal has also helped me live by faith. I have seen by my own experience that I can trust the Lord, that prayers are answered, and that principles of the gospel work. I have tried to record specific prayerful requests and to detail what I would do to find the answers. As the answers have come, I have recorded the inspiration, counsel, and help I received. These journal entries continue to lift my spirit and strengthen my testimony. I have even found answers to my current problems in reading through past entries.
My journal has also served as a place for me to reflect upon challenges, brainstorm for solutions, and set goals. Like Nephi, I have on occasion started an entry in despair but finished feeling a new resolve, gratitude, and hope as I recounted to myself what the Lord has done for me (see 2 Ne. 4:15–35). As I reread entries from weeks or even months before, I see both personal growth as well as occasional setbacks.
As my grandmother did with me, I have shared many entries with my family. We laugh as we remember the funny, joyous, or sometimes difficult events of our lives. My children see that I have noticed their accomplishments, their sense of humor, and their special qualities. And the legacy my grandmother left me is being passed on to my daughters as they keep journals of their own. I only hope it can help them savor life and learn from their own experiences as it did for my grandmother and as it has done for me.