morning pages

posted in: Arbitrary Thoughts, Books | 1

There’s this author/artist/teacher person (whose name I unfortunately cannot remember) who recommends this method of releasing blocked-artistic-whatever with something she calls “Morning Pages.” (I know, the details are abounding this morning. Blame the pregnancy brain and bear with me.)

(Here’s a link with a description of Morning Pages – I couldn’t handle the ambiguity. Thanks, Google.)

Her suggestion is to spend the first few moments of every day journaling. She says to just write – don’t think, don’t correct, don’t analyze, just write – three pages of your stream-of-consciousness. She theorizes that this will free you up to tackle each day refreshed and ready. It will renew your creativity, because you aren’t plagued with worries. It will help you get down to those thoughts and worries that you didn’t even know were there. From the link above: “Just as you feel refreshed when you step out of the shower, your mind, heart, and soul will feel refreshed after writing Morning Pages. You will walk a little lighter. Your mind will be more focused on the task(s) at hand. Your thinking will be more clear. Your heart will be open — so you may find yourself more patient or less irritated with the day’s events.”

I think it’s a nice idea. But I kind of have a problem with it.

When I wake up in the morning, my heart and mind are burdened with the cares of the day. I may wake up anxious, hopeful, tired, frustrated, with any number of thoughts pinging through my coffee-deprived brain. I think she’s onto something in acknowledging that we need to get those thoughts OUT rather than letting them plague us for the whole day. But the problem is, where are they going?

In C.J. Mahaney’s book, Humility, one practice he suggests to foster humility is casting all our anxieties upon God (1 Peter 5:7). Carrying worries around on our own is prideful – it’s our attempt to convince ourselves that we have it under control, that we can figure it out. I think it was in Paul Miller’s, A Praying Life, where he pointed out that anything we don’t bring to God in prayer reveals that we think we can handle it without him. It’s no wonder that 1 Peter 5:7 in context is this: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (vs. 6-7). 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reveals that part of God’s will for us is to “pray without ceasing.” I think this is the ultimate posture of humility and dependence. If we truly grasped God’s goodness and faithfulness, and if we truly grasped our inadequacy apart from Him, we would pray without ceasing.

So. Enter morning pages. I think she’s onto something. But she’s missing Jesus.

It’s probably been a year or so that I’ve been doing some version of morning pages. First thing, I sit with my journal and coffee and I write my stream-of-consciousness. But I write in prayer. I lay my worries before the Lord. And this groggy prayer time has included some of the sweetest moments I have shared with the Lord over the difficulty that has been this last year. As he reveals the depths of my heart, He convicts of sin, he comforts with His Word, He reminds me that He is near. I am humbled under his mighty hand as I realize the burdens and cares I have been trying to carry on my own. I am moved to worship the God who is faithful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

It’s starting each day declaring my dependence. Confessing my failures to trust and my temptations to worry. And casting all of my cares upon Him, because He cares for me.

There is not some “proven result,” like the artist’s claim for Morning Pages. I am not rewarded with better days simply because I started the day in prayer. And I’m sure somebody somewhere could make a case for just journaling for journaling’s sake. And I think prayer must go hand-in-hand with being in the Bible, because I believe that’s where God speaks. But I have been blessed as I’ve worked on this discipline, by God’s grace. I am nowhere near praying without ceasing. And I praise God that Christ is at the right hand of God, interceding on my behalf, so I need not face condemnation, even when I close my journal and resume my day as if it all depends on me.

So this isn’t a “I have it all figured out” post. But more like, “this has blessed me so I thought I’d share.”

That’s all.

One Response

  1. Charlie Hogstad

    I agree Kendra, I’ve found journaling to be an immense practical help to starting my day, meditating on Scripture and writing out prayers. Unfortunately I find that when things get busy, it’s the first thing I throw out, so your comment from Miller is convicting but helpful! Keep pointing people to this means of grace…storing up His Word in my heart often starts with writing it out by hand.