Monday, March 29, 2010

Looking Differently At Valleys

By Angel Richard

“How are you?” The age-old introductory question came my way at a track meet this week.

I impulsively thought, “Which part of “you” shall I answer from?”

Given who stood before me I said, “I’m well but you know me, I could just as easily sit down to weep over a number of situations, my story always commingles.”

Commingle – to mix or mingle together. It’s becoming my favorite word to capture the stuff of life. Valleys & hilltops, dreams & disappointments, joys & sorrows commingle in my story. They run alongside one another like railroad tracks. Both exist simultaneously on holy ground that I find myself asking the Father, “How’s a daughter to live in this place?”

You see I formed my thinking around the idea that Disneyland was the ultimate landing spot for life. It’s where dreams come true. Funny how all fairy tales give the impression that the girl was in a ‘valley’ the prince rescues her and her life never goes back to the ‘valley’ again. We all live ‘happily ever after.’ No commingling.

My story has plot lines that commingle hourly. Leadership challenges with organizational successes. Mentoring homeruns with parental strikeouts. Family highs mix with family disasters. Commingling, commingling, commingling… makes me wonder if I missed the prince’s rescue.

Life doesn’t feel like I’m making my way through the valleys to the hilltops but rather I’m doing a cosmic split between the two. Like the early years of gymnastics where I had one foot on the ground and one up on the balance beam.

My experience births questions like these, “Did Jesus experience commingling or am I missing something as a Christian? Does the Gospel story embody commingling? Is the rhythm of life only valleys then hilltops?”

Two ideas marinate in my mind today.

First, to hear the Gospel is to hear the greatest and worst news all at once. The King coming to fix the brokenness of the world commingles alongside the truth that my individual brokenness or sin is so serious that it will take the death of Jesus. I’m a loved enemy, a pursued outsider. It smells like commingling.

Second, I’m considering how Christ’s experience on the Cross is an image of commingling. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” commingles with “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…” Grief & joy, loss & gain, wrath & love are embodied in His death. Breathtaking!

It’s the story I can take into the deepest parts of myself when I say, “Father I don’t know how to live here doing the cosmic split.” He says to me, “I see you. I know exactly what’s going on and My Son lived the cosmic commingling so you can be alive to Me and to others when you live in the commingling valleys & hilltops of life.”

So here’s to commingling! I seem to be following in My Brother’s footsteps.


  1. great words, Angel. Thanks for casting light on the cosmic split. :)

  2. EXACTLY! Now the trick is to keep the sanity balance through laughter and tears ; )

  3. really enjoyed reading your post! thank you, angel!

  4. You are commingling well, Angel!

  5. Wow, as I read about a prince saving the princess I hear my husband singing to my son who refuses to eat his dinner, "Here I come to save the day!" I had to leave the room because my delicious dinner had such disgusting reviews. My little valley moment commingled with the hilltop of my husband's humor. Thanks for articulating these moments so well.

  6. I really enjoyed your article!! I have often thought that if we didn't have the difficult moments we couldn't adequately appreciate the great moments!! So, God in His Awesomeness has commingled life with both!!(I am a lover of words- love that word 'commingled'!) Thanks for your great insights and for sharing from an honest and transparent heart!!

  7. Nancydeaton@gmail.comMarch 30, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Valley trudging is so painful that comedic relief gives the body reason to breathe. The pain of the valley of Baca is suffocating and there are times where it appears that it would be easier to ball up and just lay to rest, forever.

    The valley is not glamorous, especially to those who have never taken such a journey down hill, rocks sliding to produce broken limbs. This journey is embarrassing, humiliating and could potentially cause a brother of sister of Christ to fall if they are not secure in their own faith and hope in Christ.

    "You gotta have heart. Miles and miles and miles of it. There's no bravery or boldness without heart. There's no spirit or support without heart. There's no sacrifice or soul without heart. Nothing great ever gets done without heart. You gotta have heart." (Kouzes & Posner, 2003, p. xi)

    "My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor." (Ecclesiastes 2:10, NIV)

    Reference: Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2003). Encouraging the Heart: A Leader's Guide to Rwardingand Recognizing Others. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.