River Taught


I came to this place to cry into the water. Sitting on a rock by the river’s edge, my tears joined the swiftly moving current and were lost, just like me. Lost under the power of a man I called my husband who was really the imposer of my pain. If I had known love would hurt this much I would have run the other way, but it was too late. The other stronger love for my children made me stay. But sometimes it all became too much so I ran here, to this verdant bower of dripping leaves hanging heavy from arching trees over raw, clean mountain water dashing over rocks. It’s roar thrummed in my chest, drowning out my sobs. A fine mist swirling up from the river cooled my tear-hot cheeks.

I could throw myself in and sink like the stone of my heart, but my children needed me. I couldn’t leave them to him. Besides, I couldn’t betray God who gave me my life, by taking it myself. Even though He seemed to have forgotten about me. Even though I was angry at Him. Even though another voice in my head sometimes questioned His existence.

But He showed up anyway, especially here where He called to me in every molecule of this teeming place. I felt Him arching up under my hand laid along a spine of rock. He chortled and boomed in the river’s voice, invigorating my senses with icy spray. Every moss and fern and bush and tree shook Him in my face. I started out running from Him, yet here I was again, full circle from where I began, face to face. I had no words for the pain. He didn’t need words. He soothed and rocked my soul in this primal place.

Close by, a fledgling arbutus tree’s few slender branches trembled over the swiftly moving water and I wondered how it survived so perilously close to the edge. I traced the amber-hued trunk back to where it sprang from between the rocks; saw how each tiny root wrapped itself around rocks and sent shoots down crevasses, holding on tightly. It needed to be near the roaring water which seemed to threaten it’s existence, in order to survive. I could identify with that arbutus tree, at least to the outer branches tossed and soaked by the mighty waters thundering past. But did I have the tenacity to cling to the rock? What if the waters rose higher? What if I slipped and lost my hold?

Then I remembered this. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.”  (Isa.43:2, 4  NIV)

The God who brought to life this lush, riparian paradise was also the God who would help me navigate all the rapids and dangerous currents I had yet to face. My emotional pain suffered in a difficult marriage did not negate His existence. No matter how my branches may be shaken, He was still the Rock I needed to cling to. That’s all I knew for now, and it was enough. I dipped my hand in the cold, frothing water to feel its power surging around my fingers, a life-giving current moving to the sea.

(This life lesson was learned many years ago. God has since brought me to calm waters in a happy second marriage orchestrated by Him.)

5 thoughts on “River Taught

  1. Frieda says:

    Very moving!


  2. Heidi Viars says:

    your words bring such peace … so glad you shared … so many sit by waters similar to yours … they need to know God sees them … Thank you so much!


  3. Wow Val! You have done such a gifted job of sharing this story. Not an easy one to share!!! Thank you. I have cried tears at the river as well, and God certainly is wonderful to meet us there.
    I am so happy for your continuing joy with the man God has now blessed you.


  4. I can feel the refreshing spray, hear the thundering reminders of God’s care for you and for me, and feel some of your pain, too. Thanks, Valerie, for letting us see God’s work of beauty in and through you.


  5. Appreciate your beautiful post. Thank you for sharing the difficult.


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