Life is full of mountains and valleys when it comes to having joy. To be completely honest, I’ve been in valleys a lot recently. I came to a place where I couldn’t make it back up the next mountain, and I really didn’t care if I stayed in the valley. I was literally just miserable, and exhausted with the effort of trying to continue. I had lost my momentum, so it was time to set up camp in the dark, damp, cold valley.
Looking back, my seasons of sadness can be pointed back to two different categories of instigators :
- Making decisions without prayer
- Things out of my control
Being stressed or depressed, whatever you want to generalize it under, over something that is not in my control is probably the thing I struggle the most with. Up to now, I would just try to Find the Silver Lining– Look at the positive. Find something good that came out of it. The problem with this approach was, sometimes there was no silver lining, or I didn’t have the optimicity to find it.
I read one of those sappy facebook stories one time about this lady, who’s husband just died. Since she has no one to take care of her, she has no other option, but to move to a nursing home. When she arrives, a young man greets her and begins telling her about her room. “I love it”, she says prematurely with gust. The young man proceeds to tell her to wait until she’s seen it. That’s when the lesson begins. She explains that seeing it has nothing to do with it. Happiness is something we choose ahead of time, yada yada yada. And of course she’s blind!
I’ve always heard the saying “Happiness comes from within”. To me this sounds too close to doing what’s best for you, and not worrying about everyone else, which never works out for the record. I’ve also heard that “Happiness is a Choice”, which makes it sound as easy as picking a flavor of ice cream. The problem with the facebook story, and these sayings that happy people throw at you, is that they require will power. Well, that’s great and all, but what happens when your flame goes out?
I think my eye opening moment came after Ryan and I had dinner with a good friend last weekend. He shared his testimony with us, and opened up about his own struggles. While Ryan and him conversed about their faith, I found myself relishing in the awe of what God had done for him. The burdens he had carried were lifted, and the change in him was obvious to anyone who had known him before. All because he decided to lay it at God’s feet, pray fervently, and trust in His sovereignty.
As the days progressed, I saw so many ways that God was opening my eyes to my situation. He knew I was in a dangerous place, but I also think He needed me to come out of the valley and continue the work He has laid on my heart. He was pursuing me when I needed to be pursuing Him. But, I’m so thankful He is our Shepard, and that He never lets us stray to far. It wasn’t until yesterday, that I was able to fully comprehend what He was showing me.
Ryan and I went went Jeepin’ with my cousins last weekend, and we made a stop at the Olympic Race Course of the Ocoee River. If you’ve ever been to this part of the Ocoee, you know how intense the man-made rapids are. After all, it was made for the ’96 Olympics.
All of a sudden this big yellow thing called a “Creature Craft” puts in, and goes sliding right on down the river. I’m not going to lie, it looked fun! (Side note: They come in PINK!!!)
It seats two people, who strap themselves in. You sit in a chair parallel to the opposite person, and you use a paddle to steer, just like in a raft. All was well, as they maneuvered the oversized inflatable through the rapids. They were obviously pros, as they could surf in the rapids and spin the whole thing around, flipping it every which way. Suddenly, on the second trip, a passenger lost a paddle. Along with the drifting paddle, went their fluid movement, because at this point, the Creature Craft could only spin in one direction. Luckily, a friend was standing in the rocks to the side of the river, and threw them a spare.
They weren’t the only crew to lose a paddle that day. A kayaker was walking up and down the river asking spectators if they had seen a blue paddle floating down the river. He was soaking wet and obviously desperate to jump back in and continue his adventure. But without a paddle, no fun was to be had.
You’ve heard the saying “Up creek without a paddle”. Well here I was trying to make it up stream without my paddle, figuratively speaking. I was trying to get out of my rut on my own. I finally realized I couldn’t do it. But instead of praying for my solution, as I so often do, I prayed for peace in my circumstances. That’s what you can do, when you believe in the Bible and God’s sovereignty. When you know there’s a purpose for what’s happening in your life, and that all things work TOGETHER for the good for those that love God (Romans 8:28). We can also believe that God knows the plans that He has for us, and that He would never harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). But best of all, we can put all of our strength and trust in Him, when we can’t make it, and He’ll turn that in to happiness:
Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5)
Thank you so much for reading. It’s so hard to be so raw and open up, but I know that I have to share. There’s someone out there that needs to hear this. Know that I love you all!