Growing up I used to read a novel series called Sweet Valley High. I used to love to immerse myself into the life of Jessica and Elizabeth and their friends. Things were fun and sweet in Sweet Valley High and I loved to be there (in my mind anyway - the power of a good book). However, the valley has taken on a whole new meaning as an adult and what I’ve discovered is that things aren’t so fun and sweet in the valley season of life.
Life in the valley is challenging. It can often cause you to be in a perpetual state of sadness or depression - if you let it. The fact remains that life, whether in the valley or on the mountaintop, is about choices. When we are in the valley season we do have to make the choice to be happy. We have to make the conscience decision to have a positive outlook no matter what the situation looks like. It’s a skill that if you didn’t have it before, you would surely gain and hone it because otherwise you would be destined for many dark and grim days.
The truth is whether we like it or not there is some benefit to being in the valley. The valley develops things in us that the mountaintop is incapable of developing. For it’s in the valley that:
-We learn how to be more resourceful
There were times before that I would blow through $100 or $200 like it was nothing. Now I find myself having to stretch $40 for two weeks, I’ve learned to be resourceful. I have developed an interest in cooking more because I have to, I’ve developed a knack for finding free events because that’s the only way I’m going out most of the time. Whether it’s cutting out coupons or just disciplining myself to cut spending, I’ve developed a skill for being resourceful that I believe will prove to be extremely useful when (just using a faith word here!) things turn around.
-We learn how to receive
This may sound weird but for many people including myself, receiving is a difficult task. When you have historically been a giver, being on the other side of the equation can be a humbling experience. I’ve learned how to accept the humbling and the compassion that it’s building. A few years ago my prayer was to become more compassionate toward people. I felt like I could use some improvement in that area so I asked God for it. He has a funny way of fulfilling requests. I asked for compassion so he humbled me in a way that now causes me to be very compassionate toward people and their hardships, struggles and strongholds. I guess that old saying is right: be careful what you ask for ‘cuz you just might get it.
-We see the harvest of seeds sown and appreciate the small blessings
Family and friends have come through in a way that I didn’t fully realize was a possibility. I didn’t realize how much people really had my back until I was in a tough time. Everything from cooked meals, meals they treat me to in restaurants, checks written, cash given, and encouraging words verbalized, no matter how big or small I’ve seen the harvest of seeds sown. My cousin and I recently attended a crab feast where they walked around snapping pictures that ended up on keychains for sale. The keychains were $10 and believe it not, I didn’t have that to spare. I walked away only for my cousin to come back over to me with the keychain with my picture on it in hand. What a blessing! It’s in the valley that you appreciate the small blessings.
-We truly depend on God
If the truth be told, many of us get into a valley season because we took our eyes off God and tried to do things our own way. Unfortunately God is used to it, the Israelites did it over and over and over again! I’m in no way implying that every valley and every storm is a direct result of disobedience because there are other reasons you could be in one, but it is a fact that disobedience is a sure-fire way to get there! Regardless of the path, it is in these times that we learn to truly depend on God. Our prayer life increases and we see God at work even in the dark times. I’ve had rent paid when I didn’t have it, I’ve been blessed with help from unlikely sources, and when it’s all said and done, I’m still here, still afloat, not starving with a roof still over my head - BUT GOD!
The valley doesn’t feel good but it’s necessary for our growth and development. You never know how God will decide to prune you, mold and shape you. So despite it’s discomfort, don’t shun the valley process because the valley process is necessary before you get to the mountaintop promise!
I’m a valley girl for now, but I’ll be back on the mountaintop soon!