The Importance of Personal Journals

by Elder Arnold Jones

Man reading his journal

At the beginning of the year, if we haven’t done it before, it’s a good time to think about starting to write a journal.

In the Book of Mormon there is an interesting account of the words of Alma to his son Helaman. This one-to-one conversation took place just before Alma was to depart this life.  He held similar conversations with his sons, Shiblon and Corianton.

First, he encourages Helaman to listen carefully to what he has to say, a sentiment that is perhaps in most father’s hearts. He speaks of the importance of remembering, of remembering how God has saved his people in the past, and of the importance of being born of God, a birth that allows us to come to a knowledge of spiritual things. He further tells his son  how he had been racked with torment for his sins and iniquities, and the subsequent great joy he received after his conversion. He assures Helaman that from that moment on he had been supported in his trials, troubles and afflictions.

Woman writing in her journal

Reading these verses, you cannot help to see their similarity to the keeping of journals and historical records. In our journals we write of the need for repentance in our lives, of our conversion, and of the subsequent joy we have received in the gospel. We write of the ways in which the Lord has sustained in our trials and the way the Lord has fulfilled his promises to us in our lives.

Following these introductory statements, Alma speaks directly to Helaman of the importance of keeping records and the impact those records will have in the future.   

He commands him to keep a record of this people as he has done.  How wonderful it must be to be an exemplary father and be able to say to your children, “Follow in my footsteps, do as I have done.” He continues saying that these records are sacred and that they are kept for a wise purpose.

Referring to those records he taught that these records should be handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved. Isn’t it the same with our personal records? Shouldn’t they be handed down from one generation to another and preserved? Alma points out that the Lord has said that you may suppose this is foolishness in me; but, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. None of us know how great an impact our journals will have on the generations to come.

Then he points out that God has given the real reason for these records and says, “It has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.”   
Ultimately, keeping records is part of the work of salvation. Alma says, “These records, and their words brought them to repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer. And who knoweth but what they will be the means of bringing many thousands … who are now hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities, to the knowledge of their Redeemer?”

We can see from this father and son experience the importance of keeping personal journals and records, of preserving those records that they may have an impact on the generations to follow and invite them to come unto Christ