I heard Sheila Walsh speak at a women’s conference a few years ago. I’ve always liked her — she comes across, both in her speaking and in her writing, as genuine and insightful. When Handlebar offered me a review copy of her latest book, In the Middle of the Mess, I was happy to read it.
In the Middle of the Mess
We all face “messes” in our lives. Sheila lists several, and I could relate to several she named. One of her major “messes” has been a years-long struggle against suicide. While I am thankful to not have that particular mess, the seriousness of it makes her advice suitably helpful to those of us facing issues that may seem lesser in the eyes of many.
Here are some things from the book I found helpful
- Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Sheila writes about the way most of us assume that this “saving” refers to heaven, after our deaths. But she contends that “Christ came to save us in this present moment. The gift of salvation is God’s active, present gift to us, no matter where we are.”
- She mentions always being the “good girl” since childhood, the one who keeps her problems quiet so that she won’t inconvenience others. But as an adult, she has learned to tell everything to God — almost using him as a counselor. She speaks to God about all her emotions by “owning” them and telling Him exactly how she is feeling. I can see how this would be very cathartic and healing.
- Related to this, she talks about Job and his friends. They all spoke wrongly about Job, in effect blaming him for his own problems. God’s response was that the friends had not spoken accurately about God, as Job had. And remember, Job had come at God pretty strongly, telling him all his problems, not holding anything back. Using this as an example, we too can “let it all out” to God. “Raw, honest pain offered to God brings us closer to His heart.” Telling God our whole truth brings healing and strength. And really, who is there better to tell all our problems to than God? We don’t have to worry about offending Him, or about Him telling our confidences to others.
- Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.” Sheila says that the root of “be still” is to let go, to release. She encourages us to practice “letting go” of everything that concerns us — bad thoughts, worries, tendencies to control, expectations, things you don’t like about yourself — just let it all go, and acknowledge who God is. There’s freedom in that.
- She has a series of statements that have been helpful to her; she keeps these written on cards in her purse. I liked them too:
I’m not home yet.
Tears are okay.
Tomorrow the sun will rise again.
God is with me whether I feel His presence or not.
Silence can be offered as worship.
I am loved.
- “Jesus loves and accepts us, and invites us to be our real, authentic, quirky selves … The “mess” is temporary, but the love will get us all the way home.”
I recommend this book to anyone facing difficulties in life, and that is pretty much all of us.