This is Sherry’s story. She is one of the strongest women I know, and she just happens to be my lovely mother in law…
‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’ – Psalm 23:4
This verse is my life line. Right now I stand in the middle of the valley, in a hurricane and in the biggest storm of my life. I stand in the hurricane of a broken marriage.
After 41 years of marriage, I now face life on my own, jobless, homeless and on my own. This is the most painful situation I have ever been in. As I struggle with my loss and learn how to cope on my own I know that my pain is not in vain. I have had to come to terms with my feelings of rejection, my pain of humiliation, my anger, my bitterness, my fears and my guilt. And I had to learn to forgive even if it killed me. And it was a very long 7 years of uncertainty.
There are different kinds of pain and loss and others struggling out there keep silent. I wanted to share my story and encourage others who are walking through their shadow of the valley of death.
I always thought that I would never cope if I lost my husband. I have no means of supporting myself and he was the main bread winner, so when he walked out of our marriage with no explanation I thought my life was over.
I had to make a choice. I could give up, lay down and never get up or I could go straight to God and trust Him to help me navigate my way through this valley. I was determined to leave a legacy for my children and my grandchildren that would be one of no regrets but everlasting faith, love, hope and joy even in the midst of the pain and darkness.
I have had a relationship with God for 37 years so it was not difficult for me to run straight into his loving arms. And with a painful heart, a broken spirit and a deep, deep sense of loss I got down on my knees and cried out to my God to rescue me. In my own strength I could not have carried on. When I lost my home, husband and the life I knew I fell apart on the inside. It took every effort I had to get out of bed every day. But I stood on this verse and I made it my mission to trust in the God I served. I also could not let my family lose a father and a mother, a daughter, a sister and a grandmother. I had to be strong and courageous.
There are times when I feel afraid, there are days I feel trapped in the darkness, sad, cheated, weakened by my circumstances and pain that cuts deep into my heart. I want to run so far that I can’t be found. Then I hear God’s voice say ‘Be still in the storm, I am with you as you walk through this valley’. Does this mean because of how I feel I trust God less? or I don’t believe in Him? or that my prayers are not answered? Definitely not.
In this dark place my walk with God got stronger, and as I navigated my way through the valley of the shadow of death, I did not walk it on my own. In this valley I thought no-one understands how I feel. Yes people stood by me, they cared for me, loved me and supported me but I felt apart from them, I felt as if I did not belong anymore. I knew then that God was the only one who knew completely how I was feeling.
So I stood in the middle of the valley and I held onto God so tightly my hand hurt. I had to make a choice. Should I curl up in a ball and give up or do I walk forward, take Jesus hand and turn my life completely over to Him and allow God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit to guide me and lead me.
It was rough and scary, but as I walked forward I never looked back. My life has never been the same again. I am not going to lie to you and say everything worked out good. But it certainly has been a journey I will never forget. God is doing a great work in my life, changing me everyday and transforming me making me into the person he wants me to be.
I very quickly realised that I was only walking through the shadow of the valley of death. I was not walking in the valley only in the shadow, the outskirts. And that gave me courage to move forward. So as I wait on God I know the shadow will fade as the days pass. I also realised that I do not need to fear, when i am in the valley, because God is with me. He holds my hand as he leads me to the other side.
I am still walking through the valley and it is taking a long time to reach the other side. But in the valley I am learning how to forgive, how to let go of bitterness, anger and pain. I am learning to love others and how to be kind and caring and learning how to look ahead and not behind me.
But the best of all in the valley I am leaning how to trust in my God for my life how to cling to the one who gives me life. How to love like Jesus, how to be patient, gentle, humble and generous. How to have hope when the darkness closes in and how to walk like those in the bible who have already walked this road. They left a legacy for me to follow and that’s the legacy I want to leave for those that will come behind me. It has not been easy but God has graciously provided all that I needed and more.
So I want to encourage you all to call on Jesus when you find yourself in the valley. He will never leave you or forsake you in your dark time. Seek him with all your heart and He will direct your path. Don’t give up God never gives up on us.
In my dark valley I did something I would never have done without God. At 61 years of age I went back to study for the first time in 40 years. By the grace of God I got my Diploma in Christian Counselling and Family Therapy. I want to help other women going through what I went through. So if there is anyone who wants to talk you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to listen to you and encourage you in your valley.
The Every Day Woman Project
The project is designed to highlight a woman’s real beauty, worth and strength (inside and out). Our hope is it will inspire and encourage many. Women have an unattainable standard to compare themselves to, thanks to the media. We are sent messages such as, ‘You are not beautiful enough’, ‘You are not skinny enough’ and ‘It’s a man’s world, don’t bother trying to do anything meaningful in your life’. My aim is to trample those messages with that of truth and love.
‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made’ – God