Near the beginning of Nephi’s record, he instructed those who would add to the record after him not to “occupy these plates with things which are not of worth” (1 Nephi 6:6). He emphasized that his father had seen and heard and taught many things which could not be included in his record (1 Nephi 9:1). With limited space, he and his successors had to prioritize what to include.
Before Nephi’s death, he passed the plates to his younger brother Jacob, commanding him to “write upon these plates a few of the things which [he] considered to be most precious” (Jacob 1:2), but not in minute detail. When the people experienced significant spiritual events, Jacob was instructed to “engraven the heads of them upon these plates” (Jacob 1:4). I don’t know what Nephi meant by “the heads of them,” but it sounds to me like headlines, not encyclopedic essays.
As the community grew, Jacob recognized that he would have to be even more judicious in choosing what to write. “A hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates,” he wrote (Jacob 3:13).
And at the beginning of the next chapter, he again mentions his constraints: “I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates” (Jacob 4:1).
As I thought today about the decisions Jacob had to make as he decided what to include on the plates, I thought about my journal. I used to be very consistent in writing about my life every day. But lately, I have not written much at all. Why? Probably because I don’t have time to write as much as I would like. Unlike Jacob, I have plenty of paper and ink. My limiting constraint is my time.
But maybe that constraint gives me an opportunity. Just as Nephi and Jacob had to think about the events in their lives, prioritize the most important, and then write about them efficiently, I can do the same. Maybe if I take the time to think about what was most important about each day, I will be able to make better decisions the following day. Maybe if I only record the headlines, without a lot of detail, I will still have accomplished the goals of writing in my journal: helping me to clarify what I have learned from each day.
Today, I will write in my journal—concisely—about the most important events of the day. I remember that the process of writing can help me better evaluate and extract meaning from the experiences of my life.
I love President Eyring’s approach to journal writing – at the end of each day recording how he has seen the hand of the Lord in his life that day. What a great way to prioritize time and focus primarily on things that matter most…and what a great way to increase gratitude for His bounteous blessings! I too have the same challenge of not wanting to journal unless I can record everything and appreciate you pointing out that there’s scriptural basis to just hit the highlights and perhaps focus on the spiritual more than the secular history of my life
Thanks for the comment. It seems ironic, but limiting our journal to the highlights actually helps us make better decisions, because we have made the effort to understand what qualifies as a highlight.