Valleys are Essential and Temporary


There is one thing I’ve come to be certain of: God is always at work. I haven’t always believed this. I’ve often felt the exact opposite, that storms were suffocating my life because God had forgotten me. I would cry to God begging Him to just take away the challenges. I would ask Him, “why me, why am I going through this?” But now I can confidently say that the thought, “God has forgotten me,” just simply isn’t true. Don’t believe the lie.

I was an ambitious freshman gearing up for the start of my first collegiate volleyball season. I hadn’t been on campus long but was ready to stake my claim on the team and show the coaches that I deserved playing time. Except, not so fast… in a preseason practice I sprained my ankle and was out for the start of non-conference play. Why here? Why now, God? Feeling discouraged, but refusing to be defeated, I trained hard to get back out there. And, I did. But as the season went on, it was clear I wasn’t getting the playing time I pridefully thought I deserved. As a result, discouragement settled in, but this time much deeper. “Why here? Why now, God?”

Flash-forward, to sophomore year. I earned a starting position in the lineup and was performing adequately by others’ standards. Everything seemed glorious from the outside, but on the inside, I couldn’t shake the frustration associated with each error I made. I was paralyzed by the fear of mistakes and it plagued my sophomore and junior years. “Why here? Why now, God?”

Adding to my junior year struggles was the peril of comparison. I have an amazingly talented, identical twin sister who played volleyball with me and was often publicly recognized for her accomplishments. Comparing myself to her stifled any fervor I had left. There I was, joyless from beating myself up after mistakes, and then glancing at my All-American twin sister just to beat myself up more because I wasn’t as good as her. “Why here? Why now, God?”


These discouragements, frustrations, and comparisons compelled me to believe God wasn’t for me, that He’d forgotten about me or that He wasn’t interested in me. I cried myself to sleep night after night, wondering why God had me here and why he was putting me through this. The words of David kept coming to mind, again and again –

“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1.

This verse wouldn’t leave my mind, so I memorized Psalm 23 to remind myself daily that God is the shepherd of my life, not me. I found comfort in knowing I can trust God. Valleys are a part of life, and although I tend to wonder why God allows me to go through valleys, the fact is that each valley is an essential place for growth. I’ve learned through Psalm 23 that when we journey through the valley, God will always make a way. His grace, guidance and mercy will never fail. David says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” And after walking through the valley, David claims victory, stating, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” So, I urge you, don’t take up residence in the valley. Acknowledge that the trials of life are temporary gifts from God that are essential to your growth. Continue to walk through that valley knowing that it is temporary. And remember that He is using your circumstances to mold you into His masterpiece.

To complete my journey, I wish I could tell you that my senior year was struggle-free. But quite honestly, it wasn’t. At times fear still reared its head and comparison still tried to threaten my joy. But the peace I felt while walking with God through the valleys freed me immensely. I decided to no longer take up residence in the valley, but instead found strength and growth from trusting in God as my shepherd, knowing He is always at work.


Annika Rowland

I played indoor volleyball at the Georgia Institute of Technology before using my 5th year of NCAA eligibility to play beach volleyball at Georgia State University. I am now finishing my masters degree in Business Administration while pursuing professional beach volleyball on the AVP Tour with my partner and twin sister, Teegan. I love being outside enjoying God's creation, spending time with my family, and going to the beach. I am passionate about encouraging young athletes to pursue their dreams while having fun and enjoying the journey of competing.