I’ve had a rough couple of weeks lately. If I had to describe what made them so rough I really don’t think that I could. I mean sure, there are specific instances and things that happened that were hard and stressful, but honestly not anything too out of the ordinary. It’s more just a feeling of…unsettledness. Unhappiness. My fuse has felt shorter. I’m tired all the time no matter how much sleep I get. Everything seems to annoy me. Well meaning people in my life have tried to help me out of this mindset. They text me Bible verses, encouraging thoughts, funny pictures and memes. And they help…for a moment.
Usually, drawing closer to God helps me in the moments where everything in the world seems to annoy me. But…God’s the one I’m actually the most annoyed at right now. He feels far away. I don’t hear his voice as easily as I did a few months ago. Believing is a struggle. Having true joy is a struggle. Faith is a journey and it’s not a straight path. It can be hard climbing and I feel like I’m in one of those moments. It’s a cliche but truly I am in a valley right now.
But here’s my secret. I’m actually kind of happy in the valley. When I was younger I craved the constant high that came from the mountain top moments in my faith journey. You know the moments I mean. The times you felt so close to God it was almost like you could physically touch him. When every day he was showing you new things and speaking to you through every interaction you had, every book you read, every song you heard, and every verse you memorized. Those mountain top moments are amazing and mean so much to me. But as I round the corner out of my twenties I’m realizing the valley means just as much to me.
I used to be afraid of the valley moments in my faith. When I felt them coming I resisted with all my might. I pretended everything was great. I tried harder and harder to climb back up to the mountain top again. Fake it till you make it. That was my goal. But somewhere along the way I figured something out. Our spiritual journeys can’t just be highs. There have to be lows. And not just because the lows make the highs so much better (although they do). And not because God is just as present in the valley as he is on the mountain top (though he is). No, we need the lows….I need the lows because those are the moments I truly grow. The valley moments in my life have consistently been the moments where I mature in my walk with Christ. It’s easy to love God on the mountain. It’s easy to show up on the mountain. But the rubber meets the road of my faith when I’m in the valley. When I choose to love God even though I don’t like him very much.
So now when I’m in the valley I don’t get worried. I don’t get upset. I don’t panic. Instead I look around and I say “Ok Holy Spirit, what do you have for me this time?” And he doesn’t answer because I’ve never heard him speak in an audible voice. That’s ok. I don’t need him to speak. My feet know what to do. They start walking. They embrace the valley. There are things of beauty down here. The floor of the valley is where flowers grow. There is grace down here. As long as I keep showing up I’ll move forward. And someday without even noticing, I’ll be on the mountain top again. But it’ll feel even sweeter than it did before. Because I’ll have the lessons I learned in the valley propelling me higher than I’ve ever been.
I don’t know what lesson I’m learning in my current valley moment because I’m smack in the middle of it. Hindsight will give me a more accurate picture. But what I do know is this; I’m not afraid of the valley. In fact I welcome it. And I want everyone who reads this to do the same.
When you continue walking with God even when you don’t feel him close. When you keep singing even though you don’t really believe the words you sing. When you read the Bible even though you don’t feel like it has any wisdom for you today. When you go to church even though the thought of interacting with other Christians sets your teeth on edge. Those are the moments your faith grows roots. They stretch down into the dirt and cling tight. And each time you’re in a valley they go down deeper and deeper. Until nothing can rip them out of the soil. So take heart. The valley is good. The valley is necessary. The valley is holy. Embrace it. And keep showing up. You’ve got roots to put down.