The Darkest Valley

We landed in the Dallas airport after a 7 day Caribbean Cruise.  My heart, mind, soul and body refreshed, new life and strength and courage brought in by the sea breeze, sunshine, sleep, laughter upon laughter and by the gentle love of my Heavenly Father.

 Bekah asked me to call. I know I should wait. I know bad news is on the other side. She is crying and then she tells me. My beloved dog,  Georgie is gone. She died.  I think I am going to throw up. We were just floating on sunshine from our cruise. And now this?!!?!? As with most bad news, this was completely unexpected and felt terribly unfair, harsh.  Georgie has been a part of my life for over 10 years. She abruptly showed up and claimed me as hers. She was devoted and comforted me as a I learned to grieve the loss of my younger brother, Matthew. I bordered on being obsessed with her for the first year or so (I’m sure some would say I never stopped)  She has been the most faithful companion, she never left me, always by my side, through sickness, sadness, surgeries, grief, I haven’t done a Bible study that she wasn’t in my lap while I was reading.  I adored her. Lord, why her too? Haven’t I already lost too much?  I stand at the baggage carousel trying to keep the tears and the sobs in, but I cannot. I have lost my Georgie. I am not prepared for this. Not only has she been my faithful and loving companion but she was my daily reminder that the Lord comforts us, sees us, that we are not left alone. And now I feel alone. So many things, people, plans, and now Georgie, gone. 

For a while now I have been walking through the valley and at times I’ve had to stop, crawl into a pit and catch my breath, grieve, sadness would sit too heavy to continue the journey through the valley. On Sunday, as we drove back, I want no part of any of this. This is just too much. It is the loss of my sweet, sweet Georgie but it is also the loss,  on top of everything else. (I actually had the thought that my life has become a really bad country song) I feel myself being drawn back into the pit or maybe I am falling, maybe I’m being pushed. Nevertheless, I recognize that this grief will surround me.

Today, somehow, someway, it is somewhat bewildering, I have peace. Actually,  I do know how and I do know why, I see it clearly now.  I know it is the friends who have come to my side in this deep dark pit. It is the prayer warriors standing in the gap for me. Praying for peace, for comfort, for a love that envelops me. Its the patient quiet love of friends who do not turn away from my tears, who allow me to sob in the safety of their presence. I am able to fully grieve. I know that my pain, my brokenness doesn’t turn them away. It doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am no less in their eyes. They do not question my strength as I slip into the pit to swallow the grief. I do not feel them withdraw, I do not feel judgement, I do not feel an expectation of handling everything, I do not feel that my brokenness and pain makes them think less of me. I do not have to be the strong one, who handles everything, quietly suffering so that everyone around me maintains their level of comfort. I do not feel the burden of pretending, of faking, of false bravado. I feel the peace and love and strength that come from the safety of vulnerability with true friendship and acceptance.

And now I know, this is how you journey the darkest of valleys, being led by my Shepherd, surrounded by friends who love Him and love me. Truly me. The broken, wounded, grieving, so far from perfect, me. The me who has discovered that although vulnerability is frightening, it is the only path to being truly secure and loved. The me who has discovered that strength is found in being vulnerable, not in the false land of “everything is fine, I’m good, I got this”.

The darkest valley bears witness to the deepest vulnerability, which brings in the truest of friends. The ones who crawl down and sit quietly by my side when I am in the pit, the ones who let me grieve and the ones who pray, love, push, encourage, and remind me that the Lord has called me to rise up and go.

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