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Photo Credit © Odilon Dimier/PhotoAlto/Corbis

Photo Credit © Odilon Dimier/PhotoAlto/Corbis

The morning is quiet and the boys are asleep. I will leave them to sleep longer—to dream, to grow another inch, to wake unhurried as I sit here in front of a blank screen waiting for words to find their way through my waiting fingers.

I blink, but the screen doesn’t flinch. Deep breaths come up and out of me as I try to hold on to at least one thought—just one. Just one to describe where my heart journey has taken me these last several weeks, but there is nothing. No words. I breathe in once again and the cool morning breeze blows peace through my window and into my mind.

Just breathe.

Don’t think.

Just write.

The last couple weeks in particular have been a bit of a blur. A lot of my time was spent sleeping to escape, watching Netflix to numb, and eating to cope. I’ve cried in private, in public, and every time in therapy. I’ve gone to church, prayed breath prayers, and hoped to high heaven to crawl out of this dark place alive.

Maybe some of you can understand—I know you can—because you come to me, pull me aside with an attempt to share your story, because I shared mine, but you end up with tears in your eyes where words fail. How can one describe what it’s like to be overcome by depression? And for many like me, depression isn’t just a funk, but it also dares to bring the company of obsessive dark thoughts, loneliness, decreased desire to live, and unbearable amounts of hopelessness.

I could see and feel the cold dark walls of the valley pressing in around me. The wounds of my past were reaching out of their tombs and touching the present. And it was/is debilitating in every way. But I also know the valley is a place to pass through—not a place to live. Still, I felt trapped in this cold, dark place. I don’t want to talk about the details or tell you what masked the walls of my valley—that’s never the point. The point is I was lost and I was most definitely hopeless.

But then something happened.

I looked up from where I stood in the valley and saw hope move into place to become the ceiling of my valley. It was much like when I slide the sunroof cover shut to block out the sun, yet when hope slid into place it didn’t block out the sun, it brought the light. It was a sky of orange and pink. It was soft and glowy—and I don’t know what all that means, or if glowy is even a real word, but I began to see hope show up all around me.

What does hope look like?

Hope is a friend who shows up on my doorstep unexpectedly, sits in my living room and shares all her new adventures. Hope shines and twinkles out of her deep blue eyes and radiates through her smile and hugs.

Hope is in the encouraging and sometimes hilarious memes a friend will send to me on my phone.

Hope is Blonde Boy wrapping his arms around his sleepy momma whispering, “you like me keeping you company, don’t you.”

Hope is watching First Boy finger a self-composed tune on the piano and watching his spirit soar through each note.

Hope is a husband who finds me crying in the closet and holds me and tells me it’s going to be okay.

Hope is private messages from Facebook friends I’ve never met face to face, but who have seen or sensed my heart and reached out to encourage and hold my hand.

Hope is the daily devotion from a Michigan pastor who reminds me and others—death does not own me.

Hope is a card from my step-mom writing to tell me how proud my dad would be of me.

Hope is in the ridiculous laughter with friends in pajamas.

Hope is writing destiny across someone else’s arm.

Hope is a friend who asks what I need.

Hope is in a doctor who puts his arm around me and tells my boys he going to fix their momma.

And can I be honest? Hope is also a teeny tiny pill to support the chemical systems in my brain the way God intended.

Hope is all around me…I just needed to lift my eyes off the floor of the valley to see.

Someone recently asked for me to talk to her about the valley. She heard me speak on Psalm 23 some time ago and remembered there was a point to the whole valley thing. She’s right—there is a point. And apparently it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve spoken on the subject, even I need a reminder when I’m in the darkest of valleys.

I didn’t have time to fully unpack the valley and all God revealed to me to my friend. But I left her with this tiny piece…

The valley is a hopeful place.

Crazy, right?

But it’s true.

It’s in those darkest places where God brings an orange-pinky glowy ceiling to cover you as you journey through the valley…

The glowy ceiling itself doesn’t fix everything or even change me. No, it simply covers me and shines hope over me. Sometimes it’s in the hug of a friend, the prayer of a pastor, a teeny tiny pill, or a child taking my hand. But hope is all around me—and you.

On the journey with you~