Two years ago in October I sat on the sofa wiping my eyes of endless tears as one of the most faithful women I have ever met told me I was in the valley.
Earlier that night, I had watched as she played with her wedding ring while she shared from a biological standpoint, children for her and her husband wasn't a possibility. She had held back the lump in her throat and forced a smile when she looked around the room, but her sadness leaked from her eyes and fell down her cheeks.
I had teared up with the rest of the members in my house church when she shared her sad news. I could only imagine the heartbreak they were experiencing, but I was also experiencing my own heartbreak, my own grief of what couldn't be.
After several weeks of politely declining to share my story, I was the last person left. I remember feeling my voice waver and crack as I tried to rush through the details of my mom's metastatic breast cancer and best friend's car accident. Speaking aloud, those words of the past few months felt made up, like I was telling a story about someone else. Sometimes it still feels that way.
When house church was coming to a close, I moved from my chair by the record player to the sofa, near the congregation of women on the floor. It was then Mandy told me about the valley. A spiritual place where we feel separated from God. She warned me it was deep, filled with darkness and a ravaging wind, but that I shouldn't be afraid because the valley is fertile.
When I left that night I felt her words on my heart, but I never imagined how I would see their promise, or how they would become the tagline of my life. Everything that has happened since that October night has been a testament of their truth. The events are too numerous to recount, but the most pivotal ones are a positive pregnancy test and later, a beautiful and healthy baby girl born in December last year for Mandy and her husband, and deeper understanding of God's love with continued exploration. It is still with heartache that I walk through the valley but, 'Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me: your rod and your staff they comfort me.'
I may never know His plans or reasoning, but I know that the valley is fertile and in the words of G. K. Chesterton, 'One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.'