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Journaling Through Spiritual Formation: Before We Start

The spiritual formation journey can be long, but it is so deeply worthwhile. In this mini series, I’ll give you some journal prompts to guide you through the beginnings of a spiritual formation practice. You can follow this journaling pathway through my instagram (@jbrohmerlmft) or through this blog. The instagram will feature just the questions, and the blog will include a more long form explanation of the prompts.

Starting the Journey

  1. What were you taught to believe about spirituality, God, and your faith journey?
  2. What kinds of changes are you expecting from your spiritual formation journey?
  3. How do you handle feeling challenged, uncomfortable, or convicted?
  4. What defenses come up when you are invited to stretch and grow?

Why these prompts?

what were you taught to believe about spirituality, God, and your faith journey

This prompt invites you to think back at the foundations you were given from your family of origin and the faith communities you’ve been part of. Thinking back on my own experiences, many of my past church communities have not had a big focus on growing in faith through your lifetime. It was usually framed as something that happens only to people who receive a big calling to go into missions work or the pastoral life but not really for regular people. Other times it was presented as nothing more than taking up discipleship, creating a routine Bible reading practice, or learning apologetics. The protestant tradition in which I was raised was very culturally American and was therefore very individualistic. Faith was no more than a privately said prayer that was my ticket to Heaven upon death and certainly didn’t impact my community beyond me (except when we would go out to evangelize the poor unchurched secular folks). You may have been taught that spiritual formation practices are “new age” or “secularized” and not an enduring part of our rich Christian heritage.

what kinds of changes are you expecting from your spiritual formation journey

This prompt follows from the previous. Based on what you were taught in your faith history, what are you expecting to gain from spiritual formation? What have you learned about spiritual formation outside of your family/church of origin that informs your expectations? Beyond the tangible benefits, is there any part of you that’s hoping this process will result in a rescue? Is there part of you that hopes that by going on this journey, God will see you/ heal you/ answer a prayer for you? Explore your expectations and motives in this prompt as well as anything else that comes up.

how do you handle feeling challenged, uncomfortable, or convicted

Let’s be real, this process can be difficult. Look back at the ways you’ve actually handled these feelings before instead of trying to think how you’d manage them ideally. What topics challenge you the most? How do you notice when you’re feeling uncomfortable with a topic? Do you feel it more in your mind or in your body? Noticing when you feel challenged, uncomfortable, or convicted is important. If you don’t notice it, you can’t change anything. Once you understand how your mind and body react to discomfort, you can learn to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and work through them. This leads directly into the next prompt–

what defenses come up when you are invited to stretch and grow

We all have defenses. It’s normal and natural to want to stay within our comfort zones. But the growth journey is designed to stretch us. Spiritual formation isn’t “natural” because it invites us to go against some of our instinctive responses. Our defenses are often so ingrained that they can be hard to see and identify. If that’s the case for you, I’ll invite you to reach out to a close friend, partner, or family member to ask if they can help you. Often, they experience our defenses directly so they have an idea of how we respond. Defenses can look like getting angry, getting silent, keeping busy, and intellectualizing. Everyone has defenses, and it’s important to know what yours are so you can observe, accept, and manage them through this spiritual formation process.

Follow this spiritual formation journaling process with me

On the blog and on instagram, these posts will be tagged as “spiritual formation journaling 2023” so you can find them easily. As I post more to the blog, each journal post will be linked to the others so you can follow along. I’ll encourage you to go at your own pace. This is a good process and worth doing well. If you need help at any point in your journey, feel free to reach out to see if spiritual formation therapy would be a better fit. In individual sessions, I can give you dedicated time and help you process through these deeper questions.

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