Lessons in the Dark Valley

I hate valleys. Not the lush green kind, but the dark valleys of the Christian journey. These valleys are all-consuming and no one tells you how to gracefully navigate through them. I’ve been in one for far too long and the darkness of it makes me feel like I’ve got one foot in the grave. As the months of this season have gone by, I’ve come to realize a few things.

Love is a choice.

It’s a line people love to tote about marriage, but I’m seeing more and more how it applies to my relationship with God. My relationship with Jesus can’t be based on a feeling. Warm feelings are great, but when they are gone, you either go with them or you make the choice to declare your love for Him regardless. It’s similar to how you may not feel love for your spouse or your friends every day, but you still choose them. In my valley, I know every other option or vice to make me feel better is easy and accessible. But even though I don’t feel anything, I still choose Jesus. I choose to place my hope in what is unseen because of what has been proven to me in my past “mountain top” moments.

Not being on the Christian bandwagon is okay.

As people beside me praise and sing of blessings, I won’t be able to. And that’s okay. The church should be beautifully diverse. Having people at the highs and lows of life standing side by side is inevitable. It is completely okay that one person’s experience is different than another’s. The trick has been to not let everyone else’s enthusiasm drag me down any further. Most people seem to react in similar ways to those struggling in their journey with God. There are standard platitudes and Bible verses that get thrown into conversations along with questions and statements about praying or reading the Bible more. I really want all of those things to work, but my enthusiasm just isn’t up to par. So while I don’t yet have the energy to climb back on the bandwagon, I will at least commit myself to Christ and will proclaim — or at least quietly state — who He is as my act of worship.

I will keep crying out to Him.

For months the closest thing I could muster to a prayer was “God, I still believe in you.” I’d lost all energy for anything else, but this was my touchstone. It is important for me to keep remembering that, just because I’m in a dark place, it does not mean I don’t have faith. In fact, this feels like a greater test of my faith than any spiritual high I’ve been on. This being said, I don’t want to stay in this place and the only way I see out of it is through Christ. So when I have energy and when I don’t, I’ll still send up my desperate cry for change and trust that He knows something that I don’t.

photo by SantiMB.Photos