So you've fallen and think you can't get up!
Is it the job you hate but need in order to pay the rent? Is it that relationship that you gave your all to only to end up with a broken heart...again? Perhaps it's your children, a family member or a lifelong friend doing you in, dragging you down, pushing you to the brink. If you are an honorary member of the Black Woman's Suffering Society, you have probably been told that it's all your fault. Or that struggling and suffering is your lot in life. Iyanla Vanzant says NO! Life is an Act of Faith and suffering is optional! Those everyday challenges, obstacles, and dilemmas are what Iyanla calls valleys. As bad as they may seem, there is a purpose or, as Iyanla says, "There is so much value in the valley."
Valley experiences open your eyes to the things you know but have difficulty facing and accepting. Valleys challenge your fears, strengthen your will, correct your misperceptions, and give you valuable insights into yourself, the world, and the people around you. Those dark, bleak, ugly experiences that make you most uncomfortable can help you to grow.
Valley experiences let you know it is time to do a new thing in a new way. You may grit your teeth and dig in your heels, but, as you will see, that new thing can be daring, exciting, and even fun. If you learn your valley lessons well, you are bound to shake other people up too. Good! You need to display your brilliance and move into your own grace. You've got the power, and your thoughts, deeds, and actions are your ticket. When you muster up the strength to change how you do what you've been doing, you find the way out of the valley.
As Iyanla says, "Valleys are not one-size-fits-all." In fact, they are custom-designed to teach you how to reach your highest potential -- to be divine, prosperous, and in alignment with your highest and greatest good.
If you've ever been disappointed, betrayed, rejected, abandoned, or just plain old scared to let go, then you've been or may still be in a valley. Iyanla knows -- she's been there, and on a bad day she's still there, but now she shares with you the way out.
A guide for black women seeking to come to grips with seemingly insurmountable difficulties. (Nov.) Copyright 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Simon & Schuster
November 07, 1996
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Excerpt from Value in the Valley by Iyanla Vanzant
Black women do so much work in we do not want to work on life. With the dishes, the laundry, the children, the men, the job, the money issues and other family problems, it is a bit much to ask that we "work" to make our lives better. We do not mind working toward that new home or car, to keep the bill collectors off our butts, or to put the children through school. These things we do not consider "work." They are a part of our responsibility as women. As far as the rest of life goes, what we want is to stride through, enjoying the good times and avoiding any, if not all, of the difficulties we have come to know as part of our lot. We are very simply tired of trying, hoping, struggling, and working.
It is difficult for the average Black woman to accept that life is more than hopping from one mountaintop experience to another. Although it may be perfectly obvious, somehow we forget there is a valley between every mountain. If women know only peak experiences, we become great striders, with high profiles, but eventually we become lousy workers. We must learn to work on life since that is what will be required of us as daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers. We must know how to do the work it takes to get out of those dark experiences called "valleys."
Valleys are purposeful. They open our eyes, strengthen our minds, teach us faith, strength, and patience. These are all essential mountain-climbing skills. Valleys come in many shapes, sizes, and disguises. There are many times we may fall into a valley without knowing how or understanding why. There are also those occasions when we have no idea that we are in a valley. Unfortunately, many Black women have become so accustomed to hard times and bad situations we think that is all life has to offer. In order for a woman to wake up and get the message of a difficult experience, she must realize there is always value in the valley.
Valleys remind us of all the things we "shoulda," "coulda," "woulda" done had there been more time or had we had just a few more hands and feet. The valleys with which all of us are familiar are the pitfalls we experience when we least expect them. Somewhere deep inside we know we are having the experience in order to learn a lesson. There is something we missed "the last time" we were in this or a similar situation. Momma will remind you, "I told you so!" Friends shake their heads knowingly, grateful that it is not them "this time." You -- well, you are down for the count, trying to figure out how the hell this happened! Again!
A valley can be a job you hate but need in order to feed the family. It could be inadequate finances with growing basic needs. The valley could be wealth with a diseased body. Or health and wealth with toxic, abusive, and disruptive relationships. There are times when the valley is a person you love who cannot get it together. Very few Black women have escaped the valley of loving a man who turns out to be a demon for the dungeon!
For other Black women, the valley is a child who goes astray in spite of all of your teaching and preaching. The valley can be depression, confusion, loneliness, or a high level of "pissosity." The valley can be an addiction, an attitude, an obsession, or all of the above. The valley is usually dark and bleak. It always feels ugly. Yet no matter how dark and bleak the valley seems to be for you or someone you know and love, there is always value. The key is in remembering that no matter how low you fall, you can always get up.