So you're in the valley.
It seems dark and gloomy, often resembling the back alley where piles of trash and old cats make their home.
You are certain you are the one and only, here venturing through or sitting in the pit of the deep, dark valley. It is anything but homey or cozy, it feels wholly cold and coldly empty. Clouds cover and winds smother.
A valley sounds beautiful, hypothetically maybe. This doesn't feel or look beautiful to you. No, this is less glamorous than even an alley. This is the pit. The pit of hell? Maybe on earth. But the thing to cling to is that while on earth, in your hell, He is still king.
Hope is hard and hope is scary, but something worth hoping in is heaven. More than healing on earth, more than wholeness despite the brokenness, more than freedom despite the shackles, the confidence in the hope of heaven is something to bite into.
Whether your marriage is crumbling, your body seems to have betrayed you yet again, or your story just isn't what you had in mind...the broken pieces of your heart, the fragments sharp-edged and raw, are spilling out and around you all over the dampened dirty ground. The bottom of the pit. You sit amidst all of your pain and agony, wondering if this is really it. Is this really the story He has for you?
Your soul moans and the earth itself groans, because this side of heaven is filled with painful unknowns. You are not promised a perfect life or even a pretty one. Not here, not on earth. It is filled with people, human beings. Individuals that make up you and me, we. Because of that, because we are human beings with choices that transform into actions, we are guaranteed pain.
Pain doesn't mean He isn't with you.
Grief, trauma, tragedy...beating your soul into the filth, threatening your hope and stealing your joy. The temptation may be to pretend all is right, that "He is good" so "I am good" when really, all your heart desires is to melt and break and allow the cracks to be seen. Not only seen, but seen as something to be redeemed through grace. The cracks of trauma and betrayal, grief and the unfaithful, loss and disdainful relationships...the cracks are weak, tempting to bleed. But you fear being seen as weak or "unChristian" so you hold it together by the thinnest of strings, smiling with your face but crying in your soul. Wondering: is this really what it means to be whole? To be His? To let His love unfold?
Leading you to forget that He is with you. In the grief. In the mess. In the dark, lonely, pit. He has never asked you to shove your pain deeper into yourself. He would not have you fill yourself full of agony and dread, sewn together by threads of sorrow or death. Death of honesty and rawness. Of realness. Of you.
So you're in the valley.
You're sure that if you could make it to the peak of the mountain, the ease of fresh air and happiness would soothe you. Fake it til you make it, right? Everyone else seems to be gathered on the mountain peak, while you slink deeper into the shadows. There must be a formula or strategy, a secret to skipping the dark night, the valley, the alley resembling a living hell on this earth.
I have discovered that the valleys aren't as isolated as I once believed them to be. While I walked through the shadows and the doubt, the questions and the wondering where He was...I uncovered Him right there. In the valley.
It was in the valley where I found the Rushing River. The pounding sound of gushing water began to grow louder and louder as I limped my way towards the River. But honestly? Sometimes you don't know if you can continue placing one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it takes all of you, every last fiber of you, to open your eyes and breathe. To exist in the space that is your life, the space that seems so endlessly dark and doubtful. I learned that that's okay.
There is always tomorrow.
And He is there with you. In the dark. In the doubt. Feeling the grief and the loss, the trauma. He carried it on the cross and He will carry you to the River. One step at a time. One moment at a time. Grace by grace.
Breathe in grace.
You are wholly loved, right where you are.