It’s time for some deep, down honesty about spiritual valleys. Because maybe you’ve been here, too. Or maybe you’re here right now. No need to raise your hand or walk the aisle. Just hugs and nods coming your way.
I think I told you I just came off two bad, bad years. I mean, they weren’t totally bad. There were some amazing blessings: two new members of our family, a book published, new friends, a new church. I need to remember the good times, cling to them like the precious gifts that they are.
But there was so much heartbreak. In fact, 2016 was the single worst year I have ever lived through. I had to list what I experienced for my counselor because I had blocked out most of it. I had to ask my husband, research my journal, and look back on the calendar. Every three to four weeks for an entire year I faced a major trial or life event. Like clockwork. It was horrifying to look at the timeline. And I’m talking about losing family members, public slander, financial setbacks, and marriage difficulties. And that’s just the stuff I can mention publicly. You name it, I went through it that year.
And the next year, 2017, was not much easier. An entire year of weekly counseling to recover from the previous year. A major depression. An unexpected health diagnosis. Family upheaval. Professional setbacks. Yikes, the good year was not much better.
You’ve told me, friend, that you’ve been facing the same.
So while this year has started out a walk in the park compared to the previous two, I am still reeling . . . spiritually.
One does not simply roll through trials unscathed.
Have you been here? Scarred and burned by the fire you’ve walked through? Exhausted with no strength to even reach your arms to heaven?
The clouds that roll between the soul and the Father darken the sky and the heart until no light can be seen.
This is when we walk through the valley of death. This is when we ask, whisper when our voice is too weak, breathe out our final cry . . . why have You forsaken me?
That’s when it is too hard to pray.
Because there are simply no words. No words left to ask, no words to express the deep hurt of the soul, no words to break through the tears. No words to reach the clouds that cover His face.
This is when we need another’s prayers.
We beg friends to pray for us. We post on social media, or more secretly an email or text . . . I am hurt. Please pray for me. And we hope the other’s prayers will be effectual, like that of the righteous man.
In my own grief, I turned to other prayers. For one year I read the Book of Common Prayer daily, following the lectionary’s Bible readings and reciting the prayers given as though they were my own. Because they were. Not vain repetition, but the grasping of a drowning soul for a lifeline to the heavens.
Now I have found a simple, more personal prayer guide. Jesus Every Day gives words to my soul’s needs, my heart’s cries, my life’s failings. It changed my devotions from rote reading (which was useful in its own way, keeping me grounded in the spiritual discipline and reminded of where I am going). Now my private time is becoming truer to me and where I’m at. And where I’m going.
Now there is even a quick podcast. Five minutes a day my friend Mary (author of the prayer book I’m using now) prays for me. I can listen quietly and reverently give thanks she can put words where I cannot. Or I can even begin to pray along, hesitantly regaining my voice to God.
The clouds can thicken and harden between us — you and me, both — and our Heavenly Father. It is a valley all of the saints have walked. And it may be a place we travel again. But gently the clouds will thin and break, and the light of His love will slowly shine down.
As they are again for me. And they will soon for you, too.
Are you weary, discouraged, or frustrated with your daily life? Yeah, I’ve obviously been there, too. But there is hope for overcoming it all, finding hope and healing for you and for me . . . and even reaching out to give grace and healing to those around us. We can be Rocking Ordinary in our daily lives. Please join our mission of real, honest to goodness living it out with bold faith.
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