I had heard the counsel to keep a journal during April 1976 general conference. It took me a few weeks to muster the strength to be obedient.
It was a Tuesday evening. I had bought the blank book earlier at the Ben Franklin in our small, country town in Oregon. I was living and working on our family ranch 12 miles out of town, and was about to graduate from high school. I was 18 years old.
I had been baptized on my birthday just five months before. My parents were starting to be kinder to me after several turbulent months. (They really were not happy that I had joined the Mormon church). I was reading the Book of Mormon every day then, often in large gulps, getting ready to go on a mission the following winter. That day, April 20, was also my mother’s 50th birthday. She died just seven years later. (Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you.)
I am still writing in my journal. It’s become a habit. I am on volume 44, page 7,258, and at approximately 1.5 million words—many of them poorly chosen and awkwardly framed. Much of it is sloppy and hurried. It’s not my finest work. It is many times embarrassing to read, but it is from the heart. It’s an honest record of a flawed man.
Writing a journal has had a profound effect on my life. I am grateful I acted on counsel—and the promptings that followed that counsel. It has been an unimaginable blessing to have in my possession a record of my soul.