Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Value of the Valleys

I've had cause lately to consider the valleys in our lives.  This isn't entirely personal, but I have given personal reflection to it.  I was reading a wonderful devotional passage yesterday by Marjorie Holmes and the prayer she wrote at the end was, "Father, grant me the patience to see the value of the valleys, as well as the joys of the mountaintops."  This really spoke to me.  She referenced our heart (the largest organ in our body) and how it contracts and expands just to work properly day in and day out.  So it is with our very lives!  So it is in my life.  So it is in my dealings with my children. 

Most of us agree that our character is defined by the valleys in our lives.  Anyone can celebrate and exude joyfulness and thankfulness when times are good.  But, who are you when times are tough?  How are you toward others--those you love and don't like so much--when life is rough?  How is your outlook on life when it seems like the valley is where you have been for way too long?  We all want the mountaintops, along with the mountaintop views, but we forget that we must climb up there!  Before we climb each mountain, we rest (and sometimes camp) in the valley.  The valley provides us a really good view also, and time for reflection and necessary preparation. 

I'm not an experienced mountain climber, but I have done some hiking.  I spent some time in Switzerland during the summer of my senior year in college and did some beautiful hiking there.  I couldn't wait to get to the higher place on this one particular mountain.  However, it wasn't long before I realized how tough this climb was.  At the higher altitudes, it was more difficult to breathe.  At times, the climb seemed so steep and treacherous that I just wanted it to be over!  Don't get me wrong, the higher we climbed, the more beautiful the view was (when I actually stopped to look).  But, in all honesty, I enjoyed my rest in the valley even more than the climb to the top of the mountain.  Sure, the mountaintop was breath-taking, but I couldn't stay there forever.  It wasn't reality.  It was temporary.  Such it is with most things in life.  Momentous victories are wonderful and breath-taking, but we don't live there.  I'm not suggesting that we settle for living in the valleys either, for we need both, but there is value in the valleys

Billy Graham said, "Mountaintops are for views and inspirations, but fruit is grown in the valleys."  This is true too.  Who we are is tested when we are down in the dust, on even plains.  We can dream here too.  Yes, we can dream on the mountains, but let's not forget we must first do the hard work of climbing them.  I'll admit that as a mom, I have such dreams and desires for my children; I want them to live on mountaintops!  But, I have enough sense to admit that such an existence wouldn't even be healthy.  They must go through the times in the valleys just as I must.  In my parenting, I need to learn to embrace the valleys also. 

Boy, sometimes it is anything but nice.  Sometimes, in the valley of my children's defiant behavior, whiny attitudes, or bickering nature, all I want is a nice juicy slice of pineapple.  There are the moments, hours....days when it seems that the fruit will never ripen.  I wonder when we will head up the mountain.  I wonder when I will see the victory of my hard work.  I wonder when they will show me that they actually have learned a lesson.  Then it happens!  I see a victory, or at least a victorious moment or situation.  It feels wonderful on the mountaintop and I feel like heaven is near!  These times are beautiful!  But, I can honestly say that these mountaintop moments really wouldn't be much to celebrate if the valley didn't feel so endless at times.  I'm not so sure that I would enjoy the mountaintop views either, if I didn't have the valleys to look at once I am there.  When I'm on the mountain, I can easily appreciate my time in the valley.  When I'm on the mountain, enjoying a crispy ripe apple, I remember how it was grown while in the valley. 

So my personal challenge is to remember that there is purpose--there is value--in the valley.  When I am tempted to complain, fret, become frustrated, or even run up the hill instead, I hope I choose to reflect on the purpose of the work done in the valley.  The valleys in my life don't always look so beautiful when I'm in them, but they make the mountaintop view that much more splendid.  My personal challenge is to accept that there are days when there is much work to be done in the valley.  But I know I will not remain here always.  Just like the heart that is in perfect balance, expanding and contracting, so it is with my life...and so it is with my work as a mom.


  1. Another great blog honey. You have a great gift to take what you feel,or know,or have experienced and write it down in a way that others can learn from. It is really quite amazing. Looking forward to what the future holds for you. Your loving Husband.

  2. Your writing is So inspired Stephanie. Cheers to the journey! And I'll take my rest in the valley too.