I know what you’re thinking…the term “valley girl” is most often described as a female from California with a certain recognizable accent. And you’d be right. Except I’m speaking from a different valley, not one on the West Coast. I’m referencing a very real valley, yet one not locatable on a map. The valley I know is one of internal recognition. You likely haven’t seen it, but you might have or have had your own to traverse through. We all experience the valleys in some manner…that first step descendant into downward motion. We might have been
leveled off for years, or always optimistic, feeling that uphill foray with fire in our toes. But something, a situation, a life-changing unfolding comes to roost unexpectedly.
I know several valleys, some in which I’ve occupied real estate for years. I recently spoke about ‘Everests’ I’ve faced, which I still feel. However, now I can ascertain perhaps those mountains were actually valleys. Because on the mountain top you have sure and crystalline clarity. Because on the climb, you know you’re getting somewhere so positivity keeps you moving forward. But in the valleys, you don’t know those things. Valleys can be a beautiful spaces, rich in wildflower colors and green beyond, but they are simultaneously low terrain.
The valleys I’ve ambled through in my first forty years have been daunting, forbidden places. They certainly rearranged me to the core, as in I’m not who I was. Much like one would change the furniture in a room, my interior scenery has morphed. Pain can do that. As a young woman in her early twenties, I never expected to face the valleys I have. I didn’t expect to lose my first husband to divorce, my seven pregnancies to miscarriages, or my second sweet and loving husband to death at the young age of forty. I could not have predicted how life’s circumstances would take me from valley to valley. Losing David is something I’ll never exit the valley over. And that’s okay. I’ve made a beautiful place there full of pink peonies and clovers. I’ve made peace that I’ll remain in that valley as long as I live.
The beauty of the valleys is that’s often where we see God’s most imaginative work because we have to look harder. It’s easier on a peak to survey the land 360 degrees. The valleys, though, you have to appreciate what’s right under you. When I have conversations with God, I imagine my saying, “But I prefer the mountain top!” And I envision God reminding me, “The air is thin up there. You like deep breaths. You like greenery and flowers close to you anyway. Keep your feet in the valley.” In many ways, that’s my comfort zone. So when I root the soles of my feet into the valley soil, it’s not despairing now, it’s comfortable. And I trust that ultimately the Creator of the valleys knows the path my feet will trod. I rest in that, nestled among the wildflowers.