Valleys

I live in a valley, surrounded by the verdant green of Wisconsin's hardwoods, almost like mountains in the mist and fog. Sunrises are hidden by a stand of old pine, sunsets vibrant goodnight kisses from our front porch.

I dip my blue kayak tip into the rootbeer water of a lake whipped by wind. Through the shallows, I see the hill and valley repetition as far as my eye can see. Ridges in the sand below. Sand washing in and out.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea--the Lord on high is mighty. Ps. 93:4
Now THIS is what I call therapy!

It's a lonely Saturday. All the kids and uncles and dads went fishing. My mom and sisters-in-law were all busy with errands. I wedged the blue boat and paddle into the minivan and went alone to the beach. I felt a little melancholy as I pushed out from the beach filled with families. But as I paddled hard out of the shallows, still watching those ridges, the sound of the waves buried the cries of happy children. All I heard was wind and water lapping, the drops springing off my paddles and showering me with cool water as I pulled hard for a point in the lake.


My sandals are crusted with white sand as I pry myself out of the boat on the point. I sit in a small patch of soft grass and think. I am lonely. The wind whipping the waves is a sirens call to the depressed. I bow my head and say it over and over, "Take every thought captive." I start noticing things...the softness of this grass, the sun warm on my thighs, the blue the rootbeer water takes on in the distance, boats floating by with laughing passengers. A good day. There is joy to be seen and focused upon, pushing loneliness to the edges of my conscious mind.

Back at the beach, I decide to sit a while, and put a camp chair right in the water, with the warm waves lapping my feet. Both chair and feet feeling the suction power of each wave as sand speeds out in fountains from underneath while the wave pulls back into the wash of the next. This is what happened to me, I think. All the footing I had was pulled out with the tide. Every friend a goodbye. A curtain of sadness over a hurtfilled time. It is lonely here, but there is something else to notice. Each wave brings new sand, and though the floor of the lake looks different now than it did when I first put my feet in the water, the sand is not gone.

He will send me friends. Fill my weeks again. My phone will keep ringing. I lean heavy on the four or five friends still in my life, and I fear sometimes I'm leaning too hard. Maybe they want a day without a text from me. My eyes closed, a kaleidoscope of red from the bright afternoon sun filling my vision, I lean back from those friends. I am caught by God, and I lean it all into His shoulders. I can picture Him behind my chair, standing steady, wind whipped hair tousled in the breeze, holes where the nails of my sin pinned Him to the cross. Now He sets those bruised hands on my shoulders and fills me with peace.

In my valley, I've felt lost, isolated, and even paranoid at times. You can't see out of valleys to know the end. Life is not a book you can flip to the back page and read the happy ending. Or is it?
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. I John 5:13

Friends, no friends, happiness or sorrow, I know my story ends with "happily ever after." How about you?