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Lessons Learned in the Valley

Barbara Brabec’s
Personal Musings about Life


June 2023

Lessons Learned in the Valley

I thought I was at my rope’s end in 1994 when God brought me to my knees. But I had it good then compared to how I felt three years later when I published the following story on a Christian website no longer in existence.

From my Christian Journal
July 1997

I’ve never been as discouraged or felt as emotionally broken as I do right now. I can’t explain why nothing I’m doing in my professional life is working right. It’s as if God (or Satan?) has put a big STOP sign in front of my door and is letting nothing in. If this is God’s doing, then I don’t know what lesson I’m supposed to be learning, unless it’s humility.

Oh, Father, can I just climb into your lap for a while and cry on your shoulder?

Knowing that you chastise those you love, I figure I’m being run through the fire and being tested in some way, so I’m trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be learning from this particular ‘valley experience.’ Some things do come to mind. I have no ego left anymore, so if it was your desire to humble me, you’ve done that.

Thank you, Father, for blessing me so abundantly throughout my life, and thank you now for giving me the faith that you are still with me and looking out for my needs even though I can’t begin to understand where I’m being led. Please know that I’m ready and willing to go anywhere you want me to go and do anything you want me to do.

The above decade‑long “valley experience” was particularly painful because it included the last years of my husband’s life and the first two years of my widow’s journey. In those years, I had enough short trips to the mountaintop to never lose faith that God was directing my path and Harry’s too.

With Time Comes Perspective

The surprising thing about perspective is that the farther away we come from a particular life experience, the more clearly we see the valuable life lessons we learned during that time. Perhaps the hardest lesson Christians must learn is that God’s timing and direction for our life rarely coincide with the roadmap we’ve so carefully laid out for ourselves. Now, whenever I do something I believe is God’s will for my life—and the doors I’m trying to walk through either don’t open at all or are quickly slammed shut—I reason that God must not want me walking in that direction, being in contact with this or that person, or doing this or that type of work.

I no longer brood about such stop signs or life detours, but I’ve become more observant and discerning of the signals I receive from God, who has a unique way of communicating with each of us. Because I’ve kept journals throughout my lifetime, I can review those times when I was feeling lost and slipping back onto the old Road of Discouragement. I read and am always uplifted when I find written evidence of how God brought me out of a particular valley with a special blessing or something I thought at the time was nothing less than a miracle.

“If you want to stay healthy as a Christian, you need to go back and remember what God has done for you in the past. You need to polish the monuments to the great victories in your life. That’s amongst the wonderful reasons for keeping a journal.” – David Jeremiah, from his book, A Bend in the Road  

Once we’ve made an attitude adjustment and then try to view our life from God’s perspective, it’s not difficult to look back over our entire lifetime and see all the doors God has opened and closed for us along the way. We might also see the many blessings we’ve had in our life even as we were learning one new painful lesson after another. I would not want to relive the decade‑long valley experience described above, but I’m grateful for all I learned in those years.

Although the road ahead looks foggy and challenging in many ways, my strong faith and trust in Christ have given me the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6) and enabled me to deal with anything coming down the pike. I count my blessings every day and go forward with the sure and certain knowledge that God is doing the driving and knows the way. All I have to do is hold onto the wheel.

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