I want you to be organized and live in a clean house–and sit down at a clear desk with a focused list of doable tasks that feel fun to you–and live a calm, happy life with relatively zero mental, physical, or digital clutter–and feel so good about your reality that you wake up excited and go to bed content, with strong relationships, meaningful work, and complete confidence that you are doing what you’re meant to do.
I genuinely believe this is possible for you.
But the longer I do this work, and the more experiences I have, the less I see myself as a “decluttering expert” or a “professional organizer” or a “productivity consultant.” I see myself as a friend who’s here to walk alongside you and help you to get out of the overwhelm–so you can do the things that truly matter most.
Yes, I strongly believe that a STEP Command Central on every desk will change the world, and I want you to learn to keep your emails at zero, minimize your landing spots, do your Weekly Review, and learn to manage all the “stuff,” but I’ve had some experiences recently that have been game changing for me, and they have very little to do with “organizing.”
Every tool can be used for good or ill, right? Smartphones can connect us with loved ones and ease our work loads, for example, but they can also turn into sources of addiction and break relationships apart.
The STEP Command Central is the same way. It can either help us focus on what matters most and calm our minds because everything is “safe,” or it can enable us to do more of the wrong things–faster.
That’s why I’m shifting gears a little bit today and sharing my initial experiences with a practice called “Two-Way Journaling.” It’s an activity that can shape what we actually put on our lists and how we go about our day-to-day tasks, and it’s impacting me in a powerful way.
Quick Note: LearnDoBecome is for people from all backgrounds, and we recognize that not everyone thinks about their Higher Power the same way we do. That’s okay! As I speak about my experiences and share my heart, please know that I deeply respect your beliefs and preferences, and I hope that you can benefit from hearing my process–and then adapt what you hear to your unique situation.
Hopefully we’re on the same page and ready to move on now! 🙂
I first heard about two-way journaling a few years ago. It’s generally discussed on Christian websites/video channels/etc., but as I’ve mentioned the idea in a variety of conversations, I’ve found that the concept tends to spark something deep inside people along the whole spectrum of spirituality or religiosity. Having a heart-to-heart discussion with God, our intuition, or however we define that wise voice we hear inside feels simultaneously exciting, empowering, and comforting.
It takes focus, effort, and quite a bit of courage, however, so even though I had a couple of positive experiences with it back in 2019, I didn’t keep up the practice.
In the last podcast, however, I shared 7 rules I need to change–and I explained how I unintentionally put myself into a perfect storm of “stuff” for a couple of months that left me feeling totally depleted.
I’m still recovering from the stress I put myself through, and it has been humbling, discouraging, and incredibly frustrating to acknowledge how much rest my body needs and how sensitive I am to mental overwhelm.
However, there’s been a beautiful light inside this tunnel, and it’s happened in the form of two-way journaling. I just want to share a few things I’ve learned because I can’t even think about it without getting choked up, and I feel a sense of power and strength around my goals, projects, routines, etc. that I haven’t felt for a long time.
Quick Personal Update
I’ve shared before on the podcast that the typical way my body responds to stress is by getting rashes. (I know that might be too much information for some people, but I think it’s important for you to know you’re not alone if you are super sensitive to mental overwhelm…) Some people get migraines, others cope with addictive substances/behaviors. I get rashes that only go away when the stressful situation comes to an end or I figure out what’s happening inside my noggin. 🙂
I heard about two-way journaling a few years ago, but for some reason, I didn’t stick with it. As I’ve been trying to figure out how to calm my mind in this season of life (a lot happening behind the scenes here!), I decided to give it a go again.
The Basic Way Two-Way Journaling Works
Describing this with as few words as possible, I open up a journal, write what I’m feeling–including questions I have for God–and then record what I feel God saying back to me.
This is different than the conversations that go through my mind during the day, and it’s different than the regular way I pray. For some reason, articulating my thoughts and feelings in writing adds a really beautiful dimension to my connection with my Higher Power.
How I Started
Using a couple of pages in my planner, I started “testing the waters.” Kind of like if I were to throw a message in a bottle out into the ocean and wait to see if a response came back. I think I was a little nervous to begin (wondering if perhaps I shouldn’t know the answers to these questions I have), but it was sweet to see how lovely and powerful the responses were, and those initial tests gave me the courage to go even deeper.
My First “Longer” Journal Entry
One morning last week, I decided it was time to pour out my heart. I wrote a full journal entry–starting with all the things I am grateful for. Then I recorded the big questions weighing on my heart. When I recorded the response I felt coming from God, it was an amazingly beautiful experience that gave me insights I hadn’t considered and left me feeling so much love, peace, hope, and excitement for what’s ahead. (During our recent ARISE call, I read a little bit from that journal entry, but I’m going to keep things general here on this post.)
Subsequent Journal Entries
After receiving so much from that first entry, I was a little nervous about doing it again (maybe I subconsciously limit God), but each time I’ve written an entry, it has been just as powerful as that first one. Here are a few more details:
- One morning, I had a very specific, tactical question, but I didn’t know if I would get a specific, tactical response. As I recorded what I needed and then waited for “the answer,” I felt God ask ME a question. It was something like, “April, if your goal is __________, what would you recommend for yourself to do in this situation?” I then brainstormed several ideas I felt great about and realized that God trusts me to come up with my own solutions to this challenge.
- The next day, I wanted to talk with God about my rash. I explained all the things I was doing to try to get rid of it, and I asked what I could do next. The response I got was, “Why don’t you start by going back and reading what I said a few days ago?” So I flipped back and read one of the previous responses and just started laughing. The answer was right there. 🙂 What I love is that God doesn’t berate me for being a “head case,” and I never feel like I’m being blamed for my challenges. Instead, it’s a precious, calm, beautiful, patient voice telling me that I just need to see things a little more clearly.
- I’ve done a couple more two-way journals since then, and I’m feeling a lot more joy, focus, support, and encouragement to move at a more doable pace–and not feel like I need to be the one to solve everyone’s problems and save everyone from pain. (I openly admit that I put way too much pressure on myself in that area…but I’m working on changing that.)
My plan is to continue doing this two-way journal practice. Some entries are short, some are longer, and this doesn’t have to happen every day, but it’s helping me work through all the decisions and responsibilities on my plate, and it’s bringing me so much relief.
So much of our “overwhelm” comes from the beliefs, feelings, and all the deeper things going on in our lives. We need the Command Central/the system that helps us manage all the emails, papers, projects, tasks, and stuff in our lives, but typically that’s not going to solve the whole problem. However, when we combine a powerful system to manage the logistics with regular practices that keep our hearts and souls calm, the results are incredible.
I hope that this idea can be helpful for you–either now or some day in the future! If you try it, let me know how it goes!
Steps to Everyday Productivity Program – How to Build the Command Central 🙂
ARISE Membership with Team LearnDoBecome
Podcast About 7 Rules I Need to Change
Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I feel so much of the need to want to save everyone and know it’s exhausting. I find that especially with grown kids that don’t need us how they used to, there are additional emotions that arise as we figure out what our new journey looks like and learn how to best support them as they follow their own journey while also letting them figure it out.
I think the two-way journal sounds amazing. Can’t wait to try it!
Keep being your amazing and caring self! Prayers and hugs to you friend!
April Perry says
Thank you, Chantol! We have been learning side my side for so many years. ❤️ Sending a huge hug!
Thank you for this incredible vulnerable podcast. I stopped in the middle of what I was doing to marvel that somehow God had given me- 1 child among billions- this very specific answer to my ongoing struggles and prayers through your words here. I’m In awe. I’m so grateful to God and to you for daring to be an imperfect instrument for Him:)
April Perry says
Sharon Evans says
Thank you April! I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability beyond words. I needed this message today and will start with a two way journal tonight when I am physically resting from my day. Bless you for all you do.
Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt inspirational experiences. It is so reassuring to hear that others have some of the same struggles with overwhelming underlying difficult feelings as I do. A friend of mine had just talked about this type of journaling the other day which peaked my interest. Now I definitely want to try it. My experience in the past with my Higher Power has been that when I get brave and have the willingness to just try something to allow myself to better hear Him in my heart, He magnifies my efforts immensely and fills my soul with love and peace.
April Perry says
Love those thoughts, Julie! Thank you!!
Sloan Milliken says
Reading this was so encouraging. Thank you for being real and vulnerable.
I first learned 2-way journaling years ago, and what I learned was instrumental in my relationship with God becoming what it is today. While I still talk with God and expect him to talk back these days, I have largely left 2-way journaling by the wayside…especially in the specific questions and ways you’ve been experiencing it.
Reading your post today makes me happy for you and where this practice will take you, and it also makes me thankful for the reminder of how great a practice it is. I feel sharpened and encouraged by what you wrote. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing!!!
Vicki Upton says
It’s been a few minutes for me to clean up my face here. Your podcast completely touched my heart. The concept of 2-way journaling is something I have never heard of before now. It completely resonates with my heart and I am going to take what I feel is a big scary step and try this.
I don’t know why I should be afraid of God’s love—wow.
I can’t ever thank you enough for what you do. The STEP program completely changed my life for the better, to the point where I see there is so much more. It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow and I am happy to have the opportunity to say how thankful I am for you ( and Eric. Not ever meaning to leave him out). I can go on and on and never finish expressing my gratitude.
Thank you for your podcast. For your brutal, beautiful, brave, strength and honesty.
We have the faith to give. Do we have the faith to receive. Matthew 9:22.
April Perry says
This meant so much, Vicki! Thank you!! And we hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful as well. ❤️ I think any time we step into the unknown, it feels a little scary. But I am so grateful we are all here together!
Thank you, April, for the reminder of why I have continued to be connected to LearnDoBecome over the past 3 years. I have not been as active, for the past few months, but have been moving toward creating the life where I can manage overwhelm effectively and still maintain a connection to my Higher power, and my family.
I ❤️ your sensitivity April! I can absolutely relate as I never understood what was”wrong”w me until I did some coaching w woman named Heidi Sawyer. I’m sure you’ve heard of people being HSP (highly sensitive people) but she calls people like us ISPs (Intuitive Sensitive People). She helped me soooo much to understand who I am and her saying is… “Your sensitivity IS your greatest asset!” Which is so true. I always wanted to numb it away or escape from my sensitivity to I learned how to manage it. I do not gain anything from sharing her information but I felt it could be helpful. Heidi Sawyer.com Hope may help a bit and you don’t feel so alone bc I think most of us here are sensitive Souls/Beings!
Oh I’ve never heard of this as a thing! My journal entries are often started with me just brain dumping whatever my mind is stuck on or bothered by, or something great I want to record. But inevitably by the end they end up being little conversations with the Lord right there and then. So, “Why do I do that?” spontaneously becomes, “Why do I do that, Lord?” and, “Well Lord, what do You think?”
Pretty much always ends up with me opening to Him more, letting go of whatever has been on my mind, and having a lot more peace and clarity afterwards 🙂
I’ve also been practicing the past few months that I don’t need to “save up” my prayer for a specific time and place (don’t need to wait till I am done journaling, or till I go home from a conference), and instead I can utter that little prayer right away! Basically saying that two-way journaling, having that two-way traffic (which is what prayer really is), can be something we practice all the time, not just when we are in front of our journals. Love that 🙂