Spiritual Formation in Life’s Valleys

Nov 7, 2011

Which do you prefer — a mountain top experience or time spent in the valley? No brainer, right?

Yet, it is often the valley experiences of life where true spiritual formation occurs. God reveals truth during wilderness seasons, but it comes at a price. We need to listen for God’s still small voice and prayerfully reflect on the experiences He allows to come our way. That takes time. More time than many of us feel we have.

Six months ago, I suffered a horseback riding accident that left me with three fractured vertebrae. Aside from the obvious pain component, I suffered several secondary losses — I was no longer able to work out, turn sideways, or bend over to pick something up, along with other basic activities of daily living. My self-esteem plummeted and my weight skyrocketed — just what a woman needs, right?

Last month, I had surgery, which, thankfully, eliminated my pain and allowed me more movement in my back.

As I reflected on my experience, I realized I needed time to process it all. So I set aside a few hours to connect with God through the pages of my journal.

I attempted to prayerfully answer these questions:

  • What surfaced in my soul, and what does it reveal about my heart?
  • What sin did God put His finger on that He wants me to confess? 
  • What is the path to freedom in this area of my life?

Although God had dealt with all of the areas that surfaced before, I recognized that God wanted to do a deeper work. My intimacy with Christ had grown, which gave Him room for a greater work of sanctification.

Those things that surfaced during my journaling were these:

  • Several lies I believed about myself since childhood needed to be recognized, uprooted, and replaced with truth
  • A misplaced reliance on appearance for identity and self-worth needed to be replaced an accurate view of who I am, which, of course, has nothing to do with weight or appearance
  • Areas of my life that I had not yet been brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This was not due to deliberate rebellion, but because I didn’t see these areas of my life clearly. I needed the illumination of the Holy Spirit to move toward wholeness and redemption

I walked away from my time of reflection and confession feeling a wonderful sense of freedom and joy.

What about you? Do you need to connect with God to process your valley experiences? What questions do you need to ask yourself? What in your life requires confession and repentance?

When you find yourself in life’s valleys, take time to lean in and listen for God’s word for you. It will transform you.