I truly feel in my heart that sometimes God has us walk in the “valley of life” to teach us. Some people, especially me, sometimes only listen when we are walking difficult journeys. I have told myself many times that if I would just listen and learn during the easy times of life I might avoid the more difficult ones; but that has never been easy for me. I am a do-it-myself, take charge, don’t need anyone’s help, let me live and learn type of person. I am not saying that is the right way to do things or to live; but it is who I am. Changing that is proving to be more difficult than I could have ever imagined. The few times I have decided to step back and let someone help, I am usually met with resistance or rejection and after doing that once or twice I resort back to my usual way of doing things, which is by myself! Unfortunately for me, in the past, even by myself meant not even allowing God to teach me or use me. I am definitely trying to do that part differently now, at least. I prayed last night, “Lord, don’t let this valley we are walking be in vain.” If nothing else, I want to show Christ’s love and share His peace with those that read this blog or that I may come in contact with. If one person is changed for eternity because of our difficulty then at least this valley hasn’t been in vain.
I have learned and I am still learning several lessons in this current valley. The past 18 months, has been nothing short of hell on earth for me; but I have tried to be intentional. I have tried to be authentic and I have tried to listen to God’s voice and at least learn some things during this time. Some of the things I am learning are just for me but some might help you, so here is a short list of what I think God is trying to teach me through this valley.
Lesson #1 – Don’t say, “it can’t get any worse.” The moment you say that, it will! I say this somewhat jokingly but it has proven true for me time and time again!
Lesson #2 – Stop living in the past. This has been quite a difficult thing for me to learn. I tend to dwell on the past (especially past mistakes) and I tend to hold anger, resentment and bitterness from those that have hurt me. I always do the “hindsight 20/20″ thing….”oh, if I had just done this, instead of that.” That can be detrimental to your present and I have finally learned to stop blaming myself for past mistakes and I have learned to forgive. Learned to let go of that old bitterness, resentment and anger from past hurts and started moving forward; which is absolutely freeing!
Lesson #3 – Don’t plan….don’t live in the future. Just like not living in the past, we can’t live in the future either. For the “planner” in me that is extremely difficult. I have always been one to plan months and months in advance but with Hannah and not knowing how she will be minute-to-minute much less day-to-day; well, planning past each hour has turned into a big no-no for me.
Lesson #4 – It is OKAY to take a break! It is okay to stay in your pajamas all day. It is okay to sit down and watch a few minutes of a TV show. It is okay to order pizza for dinner because you just don’t feel like cooking. It is okay to get only the minimal amount of work done if you are too tired (emotionally, mentally and physically) to do much more. I have found that on the days that I just can’t put one foot in front of the other that it is okay to give yourself permission to rest. I can’t lay down and nap during the day but I can sit down and give myself a break for a few minutes. I don’t have to go, go, go like I always thought I had to.
Lesson #5 – You cannot please everyone. I used to be a “people pleaser.” I am not anymore. I have learned that no matter what you do or say, someone is not going to agree and you cannot live your life for others. All you can do is what is best for you and your family. Dennis and I have this saying….”nothing else and no one else matters except what is in our four walls.” At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you have made the best decisions and wisest choices for your family. The people in your 4 walls. You will never please everyone so focus on what is best for you. In our home it is Dennis, Hannah and me……at day’s end…..that is what matters.
Lesson #6 – Learn to say no. This one is difficult for lots of people. It used to be for me but it isn’t anymore. I have no problem saying no for many reasons. First and foremost….if anything interferes with Hannah, the answer is no. If anything is going to come between me and the Lord, the answer is no. If it takes away from Dennis, the answer is no. I say no a lot, more than I ever thought I would. I used to be the YES girl. I would be asked to do something and the word no was not in my vocabulary. Now, I am the opposite…..I rarely say yes anymore; but it was a process; although something I really needed to learn to do.
Lesson #7 – Sometimes God allows us to walk completely alone in our journey’s and struggles; our valleys. I believe He allows this so we learn to depend on Him wholeheartedly. It is easy to rely on others, until they fail you and I promise that they will at some point. Relying on God, especially when you feel all alone is more difficult. He isn’t tangible. You can only hear Him speak through the truths of His word and when you cry out to Him in prayer. Sometimes you can’t even feel His presence but He is there. He will fill you with a peace that passes all understanding. He will give you rest and the strength to face each day. I have learned His mercies are new every morning and His grace is truly sufficient.
Lesson #8 – God’s timing is perfect. Unfortunately, for the impatient person it is difficult to wait. But, above all we have to keep in mind that God has a plan and waiting on Him and His perfect timing is truly what we want and need. He has our best interest at heart. I truly know that above anything else. His love for us is infinite. He is a kind, merciful and loving God. Waiting on Him, albeit difficult, is exactly what we need to do.
There are many other lessons I am still learning and I still haven’t mastered all of the above. I am still a work in progress but I am truly trying to listen and learn during this difficult time. I know that God teaches me the best when I am in the valley and right now I am all ears!
Until next time………