It’s easy for me to assume that everyone in my life already knows about this, but if you’re not following me on Instagram or Facebook then you may not know: I paint in my bible. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. It’s time that I explained how I came across it and why I started bible journaling. Especially since before I started most of my family and friends never thought of me as being exceptionally religious, let alone so passionate about the Bible that I would spend all the time it takes to paint the pages (more on that later).
Sometime in August 2015 I discovered bible journaling, something that’s also called art worship or scripture art. There are a lot of ways to do it, but commonly it refers to making art on the pages of your bible. I first came across it on Instagram through an account I was following at the time. After following the hashtag rabbit hole, I learned that many other women were doing the same kind of art.
Now, I never thought of myself as being an “artist.” I took art classes in high school so I had a good grasp of the fundamentals but, DIY projects aside, I hadn’t done anything that looked like actual art in a long time. I also hadn’t been in church in a while either, a very long story, and I missed the connection that came from routinely being in worship. I felt like bible journaling might be the answer so I ordered a journaling bible about a month later.
I remember how intimidated I was doing my first page. I didn’t have any fancy supplies, just my colored pencils and a pen. My pages definitely didn’t look as nice as the ones that inspired me, but after a few shaky pages I kept going.
Those first pages took hours – days even. I drew a tree on one of my earliest pages that ended up taking me a few sessions to finish, spread out over the course of weeks because I just got so tired of working on it.
But for some reason, when January 2016 rolled around, I was ready to make bible journaling a permanent habit. Probably because I’d gone on a following binge and was following a bunch of other bible journalers on Instagram. I didn’t know much about the bible, but I knew some of the more popular verses and I’d done a few of the She Reads Truth studies. I did some pages from those studies and then I discovered Periscope.
Periscope opened my art world quite a bit. I could follow other journalers on Periscope and watch how they painted their bibles – not just the techniques they used but the mindset of how they were approaching the process. Some of these women were incredible teachers, sharing their testimonies and love of God’s Word in a way that made me want to be able to do the same thing.
About the same time, I also found a new church home (which is a whole other story). Bible journaling gave me a way to connect with what I was learning at church and in my personal study time that I’d never had before. For the first time in my life I looked forward to daily bible study. I started making connections between events and characters in the bible and digging deeper into the word. It was addictive! The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.
Soon I wanted to share too. I was nervous to post my pages on Instagram because I was afraid people would get the wrong idea – that I was bragging, for one, or trying to seem like some kind of super spiritual elite Christian or something. I also knew I would lose followers, which I know shouldn’t matter, but I was worried about offending people or having my feelings hurt. I must have written and re-written that first caption a hundred times before I finally took a deep breath and hit “post.” It was like that every time I shared a bible journaling page the first 20 or so times I did it (and sometimes still is).
Sharing my pages opened another door for me and I soon found someone else who loved bible journaling who actually lived in the same city as me. I reached out to Andi and asked if she wanted to co-host a meetup with me. She agreed and we’re planning to host our 8th one this month.
Over the course of last year I developed more of a personal style and found my “voice”. I still have a lot to learn about the bible and art in general but I’m more confident when it comes to sharing my work and what I’m learning in my daily study. It’s definitely not all about making pretty pictures either, I spend so much more time studying God’s word now than I ever have. I remember to pray more often, am more likely to choose gratitude than complain about things and am seeing other habits shift too.
I think the biggest lesson for me in bible journaling is that you never know what your “tipping point” will be, what that thing is that will really make your faith personal. Mine came in a very unexpected way but it was a complete game changer for me. That’s why it’s important to keep trying new things. Push yourself to see past any labels you’ve put on yourself (or let others put on you) and try that thing you think you may not be “that good” at doing.
You never know what you’re going to learn about yourself in the process. So many times that thing that makes you say, “I could never,” is an opportunity to discover potential you didn’t know you had.