end-of-notebook ritual


I finished a notebook today. Notebooks permeate my life, but there is a daily staple, the jumbo PlanAhead journals that I’ve been filling since 2012 with thoughts about faith. Today when I opened to the end, I decided I should develop an end-of-notebook ritual.

I always write an epigraph to start a new notebook, so it seemed appropriate to return to the beginning and reread the first few entries as part of my new end-of-notebook ritual.

The epigraph made me smile, and I turned to my first entry of the notebook. It was dated early October. I was a different person then. In fact, I may have lived 100 versions of me since then.

In October, I was wondering if I would wither under the silent treatment I was receiving.

In October, I was struggling with a first draft. I stopped writing because of the silent treatment. It’s really hard to write about family when you feel like you’re failing in the family-department.

In October, Stephanie hadn’t yet learned how to scam the system of the treatment center.

In October, Hannah started dating someone new.

In October, there was football.

In October, Andy was about to find out he needed a pacemaker.

In October, I wondered if I were a fake writer.

In October, I thought my community was open-minded.

In October, I wrote the first entry in my notebook that I ended today. God was being strict with me in three things. I began referring to them as The Big Three throughout my notebook.

  1. Be still and let God fight for me.
  2. Speak the truth in love.
  3. Repeat this: It’s not about me.

These principles were super difficult for me in October, when I was beginning this notebook. I was tired of loving difficult people who kept pushing me away. I felt fragile. I decided it was unlikely to live them for any length of time, so I was just hoping to do them for 30 seconds at a time.

The more I trained with these three tenets, the more I realized that they were shaping me into someone new.

As I learned to be still, peace was growing.

As I spoke the truth in love, empathy was growing.

And, as I adopted the mantra, It’s not about me, selflessness was growing.

Looking back at the beginning of the soon-to-be-finished notebook, I realized that I am a different person now than I was three months ago. So much has changed within my heart.

  1. I am at peace.
  2. I am firm in what is NOT mine to judge or correct. I love people, regardless of whether they think like me.
  3. I am staying healthy and am investing in others’ lives.

Most importantly, the thing I know now, like knowknowknow deep in my bones, is love will never sabotage truth.

There’s been a lot of chaos in the last three months, which is likely the reason this notebook filled twice as fast as usual. When there’s chaos, I write to sort it out.

I’m glad I glanced back at the beginning to remember what life was like a few months ago and to recognize how I’ve changed since then. There’s still stuff I struggling to believe, but I supposed I have the hope that comes with the first page of a new notebook.

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  1. Ruth, I do not know a lot of details about your life, but I do know it’s not an easy one. You’ve chosen a tough path to follow, lots of bumps in the road. I appreciate the peek here into your way of processing all that has happened, with a notebook in hand and God by your side.

  2. Hi Ruth, your words feel good, new year & new notebook, traveling on into this new decade.Thinking of you every day!