It feels like I'm finally on the other side of the valley and I have no idea what took me so long to arrive.
Long ago - or really, not so long ago - I remember saying to myself that I just wanted to feel content. I didn't need to feel exhilaration or bliss or even "happiness," at least not the shiny version of it. Just content. I'm pretty sure I had no idea what that looked like or felt like but it seemed like a reasonable and very adult goal.
It also seemed to be a million miles away.
Well, it wasn't - but it certainly felt that way. I don't know if I'm alone in this (that seems unlikely) but I tend to mark the time in my life by the circumstances of each period. "When I was a kid" or "when I was at Butler." Grad school. Before Rob and I married. When Mom was sick. After Dad died.
And here we are at Now. Now has been a long time coming, it seems to me. The time from when Mom was sick to after Dad died was a slog, an exhausting, numb slog that I sometimes believed would never really end. Despite marrying and giving birth to our beautiful, loving daughter, creating a home and growing together as a family, it always looked to me as if there was a shadow cast on everything good in life. I guess you could call it sadness, or mourning, but whatever it was was slow and deep and stifling. I got to know that terrain well and it would be easy to find my way back there again. But I'm in no hurry to return.
Now is where I think I have found out what contentment means. It's not perfect; there are still frustrations and arguments, and the cats still really hate the dog. My laundry still piles up. The dust, though it hardly seems possible, appears to accumulate even faster than before. My daughter, my sweet, smart, loving, gorgeous daughter continues to leave a trail of destruction in her wake. Money is tighter than ever. I'm still overweight and mourning's long, slow slog wasn't kind to my youthful glow. But I am content, and able to rest - truly rest! - in the knowledge that life actually is good after all. We are healthy. We are happy. We are together. The long slog is over and I know that the bumpy, turning road ahead is passable. And promising.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.