Speaking as someone who has a divinity degree and loves to preach, at this point in my life, I’m pretty thrilled to not be writing and delivering a sermon every week. This is probably because my procrastination and self-doubt so often turn the process of sermon prep from an act of meditative research and contemplation to one that feels more like pulling teeth (a topic for another day).
One thing I do love about sermon prep is that I am required to sit, focus, and write. Otherwise, I don’t do that enough. I love writing, but it seems to always get pushed to the bottom on my list of priorities.
In college, I discovered the literal magic of journaling. I was dumbfounded by the capacity that I found within myself to process tough situations and emotions with a pen and paper, feeling indescribably better afterward. I filled up ten or more blank journals and notebooks with my daily musings. All while not understanding why it was so helpful for me, I clung to the sweet process of pouring out my soul in longform, intended for no audience but myself.
This practice carried on for years and accompanied me through big transitions, transformations, heartbreak, and healing. Never once through these years, though, did I consider myself a writer—perhaps because the process of writing was so deeply personal to me, and sharing it felt like a dilution of its meaning. When I did try to share thoughts from my journaling sessions, either with friends or on social media, I was almost always disappointed that my words didn’t have the spark I remembered them having. “This was brilliant two days ago!” I would think to myself. “Now it sounds like I’ve never had an original thought in my life.”
Were my words actually as lackluster as I thought they were? Maybe. Probably not.
I think the disconnect I was experiencing was that, during my journaling sessions, the words I needed flowed out of me and met me in that moment. They nestled themselves onto the page in the midst of that holy interplay between the sacred mystery surrounding me and my own deep self-knowing. Taken away from that space, they lost a bit of their context. They no longer belonged fully to me; they were subject to the interpretation of anyone reading them. Within the pages of my journal, though, in my moments of meditative reflection, they were a proclamation of self. They were a revelation.
These days, I actually do consider myself a writer. And it’s not because I write more than I did then; in reality, I write significantly less. I consider myself a writer because I’ve decided to start identifying more closely with the practices that make me feel good and whole. I’ve decided to call myself by the names that feel sacred, not just the ones that feel productive and marketable and useful to others. And I’ve learned that my inability to control the way every person reads and interprets my words (as scary as that is sometimes) is actually a good thing, because in the space between what I write and what others get out of it, that same holy mystery that danced across the pages of my journal has the opportunity to dance in the mind and spirit of the reader.
So often, we identify ourselves as the roles we occupy for other people: spouse, significant other, employee, parent, child, sibling, teacher, student, etc. These roles are beautiful and necessary and so, so vital in this world, because we need to be in relationship to one another. But sometimes, we lose sight of our own souls when we are so externally focused on who others need us to be. It’s a balancing act, right? But just for this little moment, in the space you hold within yourself that belongs only to you, how do you describe yourself? What words do you use that speak to who you are, for you and you alone?
I hope you find joy in that space, being who your soul calls you to be.
Comin’ through my speakers:
“in defense of my own happiness (complete)” album by Joy Oladokun
What’s inspiring me lately:
This TEDxTalk on home composting—Mike McGrath made me laugh out loud and did a wonderful job of grounding a topic that can be so over-complicated.
Something I'm creating:
Lots of custom stole orders, for which I am so, so grateful
You can find more about me and my work at molliedonihe.com, and you can subscribe to this public journaling practice at molliedonihe.substack.com. You can also find me @molliedonihe on Instagram and TikTok. Glad you’re here!