Yolanda Cohen Stith is a Messianic Jewish believer and a pastoral counselor. She has been in ministry since 1997 and is the Executive Director of New Heart Living, a Christ-Centered Counseling and Teaching Ministry in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.
She is a member of the Network 220 (formerly, the Association of Exchanged Life Ministries) and is a regular teacher and speaker at various churches and women’s groups. Yolanda originates from Los Angeles, California, specifically, the San Fernando Valley referring to herself as a “valley girl.”
Life is filled with valleys—pain and suffering in the midst of disappointment and loss—a crisis of the soul that weakens our faith instead of strengthening it. The strength of one’s faith is often reflected in the response to the crisis of the moment. Since we live in a fallen world, it’s unrealistic to hope that we can somehow avoid the valleys and maintain those mountaintop highs that we all want.
Valley Life is about walking through the valleys of life and allowing God to use them as a classroom of higher learning, not the kind you get at a prestigious university, bible school, or seminary, but on your face before God. For many Christians, life in the valley can be so overwhelming and painful that we do everything we can to quickly and eagerly locate the nearest exit. By so doing, we miss the greatest opportunities that lie before us.
The valleys we encounter in life are where men and women of God are shaped, molded and conformed to their new identity in Christ. It is the place where our confidence in a life of self-sufficiency and human dependency are weakened, in order that we might find our strength in the life of Jesus within. It is not on the mountaintops of feel-good experiences that Jesus is revealed in and through us, but in prisons and street gutters.
Instead of our relationship with Christ becoming more dependent and intimate, the Christian experience has become more about performance, busyness and formula-driven. Consequently, when faced with a crisis such as an imploding marriage, rebellious children, divorce, adultery, death, etc., there’s no solid foundation to sustain Christians.
As a valley girl, Yolanda’s journey with God has taught her how much she is loved by him, and no matter what circumstances—losses and disappointments—that she is facing, the life of Jesus in her is more than enough. He is more than enough for her and more than enough for anyone who seeks him in those dark and painful places in life.