The Hills and Valleys

I realized something this week: I’m having a really good week. Like I feel motivated, hopeful about the future, in control of my food choices. I even shared this realization with my husband day before yesterday because I was so incredulous about how good I feel.

I think the goodness of how I feel is made even clearer by the stark contrast with the previous week: lots of darkness, feelings of helplessness, and bad choices. During that hard week, I believe I made it even harder by mentally punishing myself for struggling. What do you have to be upset about? You’re fine! You need to get yourself together and get stuff done. So lazy… That kind of self-talk didn’t help anyone or anything. It just pushed me into the realms of escapism further: to escape the tasks to be done, the darkness, and the criticism for the darkness. 

Now very much on the other side of it, I can see that I should’ve just waited to feel better to push productivity on myself, especially with things like writing. When I’m not in a mentally good place, writing is one of the worst activities imaginable. I use the all-consuming aspect of the darkness to excuse the self-censure: I have to write right now, because I’ll probably never feel good enough to write ever again! But look at that: one week later and I do. 

The way I do my writing also helps with giving myself breaks: I write 2-3 posts one day a week during good weeks so that I can allow myself to take a break when it feels like too much, and I still have consistent posts each week. Instead of punishing myself for struggling, I’ve found a way to be productive, consistent, and still gracious with myself. 

Photo by Waranont (Joe) on Unsplash

Weeks like this week — where everything feels purposeful, managed, encouraging — it’s hard to fathom the dark weeks. Why was last week so hard? Neither phase makes sense in the mindset of the other: depression cannot imagine joy, and purpose cannot imagine such helplessness. But both are very real and very much a part of the hills and valleys of my experience. 

Even as I make better habits and the darker periods diminish in duration and frequency, I hold no such notions that valleys will completely disappear from this life. Instead, I’m encouraged that valleys will completely disappear in coming days of a world made new and no more sadness, but only joy. 

I’m encouraged by the strength and peace that God is continually giving me even in the lowest of valleys; that He’s helping me remember the mountain tops while I’m in the valleys, even if I can’t quite fathom it. 

That He’s helping me not define myself by harder moments, but remembering my value was defined on the cross in permanent ink, never to be disputed again. 

So whether you’re having a fantastic week or one of the darkest, I encouraged you to remember that we serve a God who holds our hearts in both. Our value, our being-loved-ness, is the exact same in both, no matter what.