Discovering Myself through Journaling


Since I was 18 years old I have kept almost on a daily basis a personal journal where I reflect on my day and try to unpack all that happened to me and how I affected others. It is where I am most candid with myself. I remove the mask society forces me and I choose to wear.  I see myself as I have come to see myself: a broken and proud man lost in this world and yet always wanting to be faithful and consistent with God and others. When times get tough and I am faced with existential darkness, I have found that my best guide and light is found in those pages of the diary. I have always concluded each reflection with a short prayer. The prayers are always of hope in becoming the best person I can become the next day.

I have suffered so much in my life; first, health wise; second, socially as a minority on many levels (culturally, morally, religiously, and intellectually). I have to constantly remind myself not to focus only on the cross as a nostalgic romance with pain and suffering but also to focus on my talents and strengths that have withstood the dark nights of my life.

As I begin my mid-life years, I see now that it is in the balancing of both my pain and joys that I can find the wealth of experiences to share with those I encounter, especially those who may need to be heard. This is where I have found my theological vocation leading me to.

 It has forced me to take seriously my theological vocation. I do this by asking myself the following question: Where and how do I locate myself as a faith person in a web of relationships within my theological work?  How is theology done by theologians whose vulnerabilities and gifts must be part of the works they produce for faith communities? This approach involves embracing vulnerability as a mode of being in the encounter of both God and the world. It means being open to the joys and pains that accompany God's work. As in the example of Saint Teresa of Avila having a terrible experience on a journey. When she brought this to Jesus, our Lord replied 'Those I have called I give much trials' and Teresa replied 'No wonder you have few followers.'

Methodologically, I have incorporated journaling in graduate courses I teach. I invite the students to reflect on their life journey and to share their stories as a rich theological content for reflection both for themselves and the class. I do this by also sharing my own stories. Theology cannot be done without a face. No matter how wounded our faces may be, it is the scares that serve as the tapestry of our pluralistic encounters with God.
This is my story. This is why I chose to become a theologian. It is the foundational lens through which I see and interpret my theological contributions.

SimonMary Aihiokhai,
Valparaiso University

Reflection Questions

Do you agree that “Theology cannot be done without a face?” Or is theology the faceless teaching of church doctrine? 
Does faith teaching involve sharing one’s vulnerabilities as well as one’s strengths?
One’s doubts as well as your certainties?

Add your comments below