“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
Psalm 23 speaks to me loudly as I continue to walk down this path that seems so familiar to me. It is not one I would have chosen to traverse; yet it is one that I find myself on. One could say that COVID enhanced the descent onto this path, and it did, but quite honestly, when depression/anxiety decides to make itself known, there is no way out but to take a closer look at what one sees most clearly in the valley.
It started slowly as I fought off the negativity swirling around in my mind. It was easy for me to distract those thoughts through keeping busy. My go-to has always been busyness—toss out, give away, sort, clean, sweep, organize, anything to distract my mind from seeing what was right in front of me—especially when my heart longed to remain on the mountaintop, viewing life and beauty from a distance where nothing really came into focus. It was a precarious place to live, and I’ve needed help to face the reality found only in “the valley.”
It has been through the voice of another woman that I discovered the strength and courage to face the pain of walking though “the valley.”
Her voice was a reminder that I need not stumble alone in the narrative of my mind that was close to rendering me helpless. Her voice was one of kindness that spoke to the goodness of my heart.
She said, “You are doing really well. I remember the day you sat close to me, providing life-giving words that caused my heart to rest, and I felt hope.”
I needed her words to know that my heart was not held captive to the torment of my mind. Her voice reminded me what the remainder of the verse says, “I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” Over time, I no longer felt so alone.
I’m grateful for the mountaintop that provided a respite for my hurting heart, but it wasn’t enough to sustain me. The valley is the place I’ve renewed my acquaintance with God. It is the place I retreat to as rest escapes me in the darkest hours of the night. And it does not feel as threatening to me today.
I’m realizing anew that my “walk through the valley” is by no means finished. And there is mountaintop life to be discovered each day. Yet for today I feel grateful for one woman’s voice and “the valley” that resonates where life is truly found.
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 50+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches”. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves, and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…&n