Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Most of us know at least part of the 23rd Psalm. What a beautiful poetic way to face difficulty. Yes, Jesus walks with us through all the hard roads. He calls us to pray without ceasing and to trust wholly in him. He also gives us tools to use as we navigate the most challenging seasons of our lives.
Do any of you have that “Footprints” poem on a plaque? I’m sure you have seen it, the one about walking along the beach with Jesus, reviewing the story of your life and seeing that in the darkest times, there was only one set of footprints - and instead of leaving us during those times, Jesus gently says, “It was then I carried you.” The person of Jesus carries us through our difficulties. One of the ways he does is by allowing others to be his hands and feet.
Back in 2014, I was excited to have my oldest two daughters starting high school in a challenging Classical homeschool program. My younger daughter was loving school, had great friends. My boys were seven and ten and finally getting the hang of their own schoolwork. Life was good. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, my daughter was diagnosed with an eating disorder. Talk about a valley and the shadow of death. Literally every day I prayed about her health - both mental and physical. Thankfully she is well now, but that was a tough season.
What does it look like to walk through an eating disorder, a miscarriage or stillbirth, the death of a parent or spouse, a devastating diagnosis? And to do it well? I am certainly no expert in trauma, but I have experienced enough to share one thing I have learned. We have to accept help when we need it.
Don’t you love the meme about the wise women showing up at Jesus’ birth instead of the wise men? Who wants gold and myrrh when you could have casseroles, diapers, and someone to clean your house? As women, we love to help others. When you are walking through the valley, please, if not for your own benefit, but for your friends and family, accept help.
When my daughter was sick, I was in three carpools and drove her 30 minutes each way to her treatment twice a day. On top of that, my mom, who was my extra driver and helper, had a heart attack and was in rehab for two months. I couldn’t breathe. I woke up in the night thinking about how to get all the places we needed to go the next day.
In step the friends; they were driving my people everywhere. I hope some of you still make homemade casseroles and deliver them to the infirmed and grieving. Just say YES when people offer food, wherever it comes from. This is not the time to be proud or self-reliant. Remember you are allowing others to be blessed by serving you.
As Proverbs 22:9 says, “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Are we not poor in spirit when we are in a season of darkness? Don’t block another’s blessing by saying “no” when you are in need. Admit it, accept it, and be blessed.
- Ella Herlihy