“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord…” –Psalm 77:1-2 (NIV)
Have you ever felt that God has forgotten you? You’re not alone. There have been times in my life when I have felt so empty and alone, I have cried out for my Lord to bring me home. I was in so much emotional pain, I didn’t want to live.
Pain can bring us to our knees in prayer or it can keep us from overcoming those things God wants to use to help us grow. For me, it began with the end of my 28-year marriage in 2001. Journaling through the pain eventually helped me to release the negative emotions associated with the loss—anger, bitterness and unforgiveness.
Before my divorce, my baggage was so heavy I suffered from physical afflictions as well as other health issues. Let me explain. Did you know that when you carry around your past hurts, or allow stress to rule your life, it affects you physically? This is called the mind-body connection. Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you something isn’t right. Poor emotional health can also weaken your body’s immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times.
For many years, my internal baggage affected my body in many ways. A stress-filled marriage and poor self-image led to frequent back pain, a stiff neck and an upset stomach. However, it wasn’t until my 2002 breast cancer diagnosis that I learned about this important connection. Part of my optional treatment plan involved counseling sessions at Cancer Treatment Centers of America where I learned about this important mind-body issue.
Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Putting my thoughts on paper in the form of a letter to the Lord is one of the best ways I have found to let go of stress, past hurts and all my worries.
When Hollywood writer Misty Taggert learned that her husband had been diagnosed with Stage 4 neck and tongue cancer, she was confused and angry with God. She couldn’t understand why God would let this happen. Then, she remembered how much writing meant to her and she began to use her fountain pen to connect with the pain.
In Write Where it Hurts, Jo Ann Fore explains: “As Misty writes, it draws everything together for her. The pain flows from her brain and heart, trickles down into her arm, through the pen and onto the paper. An art form, for her, that offers a direct connection to God.”
Misty says, “There’s something wonderful about connecting what’s going on in your mind and taking it to the paper to make it real. When I pray verbally, my mind wanders. I know it’s not supposed to—but it does. I have a hard time staying focused. I found if I write to God, instead, I stay focused.”
Prayer journaling can help you stay focused on Him instead of your problems. Try journaling your struggles to God today.