I’m no stranger to the valley. Maybe it’s my circumstances. Perhaps it’s just my personality. Probably a combination.

This valley is not my first choice of where to be, yet it’s strangely familiar.  In the valley, I have danced with depression. I have gracefully grieved. I have survived difficult days.

A fog surrounds me, and my vision cannot reach beyond right right in front of me. The mountaintops, the sky, the future. All are obscured, and the valley is all I know.

Do you know this place of the valley?

Seasons in the valley might come from wrong choices, difficult circumstances, or close relationships. Some valleys could have been avoided. In others, you had no option.

Whatever the cause, it is always a valley of decision. 

In my current valley, God keeps whispering that I have a choice.

“What choice?” I wonder. I made no choice to be here. This circumstance was thrust upon me. Yet it’s in this very place I must make some difficult decisions.

What is your choice in your current valley? 

A list of crucial decisions floats through my mind. They sound simple, but they most certainly are not. Survival might depend on them, but they will require fighting against self-protective survival instincts.

Only one choice is absolutely essential: Cling to Jesus.

The following list of fifteen is overwhelming when you’re in the valley, that place of grief, despair, confusion. All of these hinge upon one essential decision. Cling to Jesus. All of these point to that one choice. Draw near and stay near.

For “the Lord is a refuge for His people.”

Choose to cling to Jesus, and you can also choose the following:

Choose to stay.

Do you want to run or curl up and hide? Fight, flight, or freeze. All common responses to distress of any kind. But none are helpful. You must choose to stay in the valley if you want to see grace and victory.

Choose to be courageous.

Yes, staying in any difficult situation will require courage. But “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Choose to speak carefully.

Hurt people speak hurtful words. So being slow to speak is necessary in the valley. But silence is not always golden and can cause just as much hurt. So choose to speak, just speak very carefully.

Choose to accomplish the basics.

Eat. Drink water. Get outside. Rest. Keep moving. Make a checklist if needed. Don’t allow the valley to paralyze you. You will need the store up energy for the climb back up the mountain.

Choose to allow yourself to rest.

Take a nap. Read a book. Go to bed early. Maybe even binge watch a little tv. You probably need some extra rest right now. But remember to get back up and keep moving forward.

Choose to suspend judgment of yourself.

This is not the time for self-assessment. Your vision in the valley is too narrow. Be kind and choose to push those self-defeating thoughts aside.

Choose to receive healing.

“This is where the healing begins” – the song that has been floating through my mind. Your hurt might be the result of another person’s actions. But if you are to receive healing from the hurt, only you can make that choice.

Choose to forgive the unforgivable.

Isn’t that the true essence of forgiveness? Hurtful choices are not really forgivable. If your valley is due to someone else’s actions, this is the very place you must choose the impossible. Forgive, for they don’t really know what they did.

Choose to search for truth.

In my valley, the lies in my mind become so loud, I can barely sort out truth from lie. But the truth is in there. You have God’s Word, and that is truth. It’s in there somewhere. Keep searching.

Choose to trust God’s purpose.

“All things work together for good…” “You intended harm, but God intended good.” He always orchestrates a hidden purpose. You cannot see it until you’re out of the valley. But it’s there. Keep trusting.

Choose to surrender your expectations.

No, this valley was not in your plan. You had plans, goals, dreams. Will you dare to let go and trust God will work through this interruption? Perhaps the valley is the unexpected path toward your true desires.

Choose to grieve your losses.

But perhaps those expectations will remain unmet. They might pile on other pains of loss. Grief is not only for death of people. Grieve the loss of relationship, time, shared experience, possibility.

Choose to take the risk.

Then dare to believe that death might bring fuller life. Take the risk to love and be loved. Give of yourself without expectation of return. Take one more step forward. Try again.

Choose to celebrate each small step.

Take one step. Celebrate. Take one more. Get out of bed. Cook a meal. Water the flowers. Read a book with your child. Speak a kind word. Celebrate each small, but very significant, step.

Choose to hang on to your dreams.

That’s why I’m writing today. In my current personal valley, my feelings taunt that I am disqualified from my dreams. But I’m hanging on. Don’t let go of your dreams either. This valley is taking you to them.

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!

For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”

Joel 3:14

This valley of decision is the prophesied day of judgment which scholars believe will occur in the Kidron Valley near Jerusalem.

Judgment of myself (and others) is often my first response when I find myself in a valley of any sort.

But judgment is not God’s intention for me.

Or you. If you are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus.

“But the Lord is a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the sons of Israel.”

Joel 3:16b

God’s desire for us in the valley is that we seek Him as our place of refuge.

That’s the greatest choice you can make.

Choose to run to Jesus. Choose to find your healing in Him. Choose His rest even in the midst of your deepest valley.

Choose to cling to Jesus.

When a fog surrounds and you can't see beyond the valley, there is only one crucial choice to make.