This book is for you if… you are a believer struggling to see how your mess fits into your faith, you or someone you know struggles with mental illness or depression, or you want to read one woman’s story of defeating the darkness with God’s light.
|My thoughts: Honestly, it’s hard to give 3 stars to a book that is someone vulnerably sharing their heart-wrenching story of darkness and redemption; it almost seems like I’m belittling her journey and how God has worked through her mess to remind her that she is fully loved and fully accepted. But disclaimer: this book may not have been for me because it addresses a different kind of mess than I struggle with, but that does not mean it will not provide courage, comfort, and guidance for someone who shares Sheila’s battles.
I had never heard of Sheila Walsh before, and this was her first book I’ve ever read, though apparently she is a well-known name in the Christian world, especially in women’s ministries. Her newest book, In the Middle of the Mess, focuses on Sheila’s journey with depression and suicidal thoughts. As someone who has never struggled with thoughts of suicide, this book gave insight into the challenges of mental illness from a Christian perspective but it was not something I related to easily. Sheila talks about her father’s suicide and her mother’s death within the first few chapters, so be prepared for a heavy read.
The summary on the back of the book touts a “practical method for connecting with God’s strength in the midst of struggle” and while the Reflection sections at the end of each chapter were helpful, it felt more like a sharing of her personal story than a practical guide for dealing with the mess. The Reflections in each chapter make the book more relatable to all kinds of pain/struggles, but a majority focuses on the battle of depression/suicide. Sheila does promote using confession, prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and community as daily practices, but I thought the book lacked some specificity on truly implementing those practices.
Ultimately, In the Middle of the Mess provides an inside look at the mess of one leading voice in women’s Christian ministry as she shares what has helped her through her struggles. She continually emphasizes God’s love without minimizing pain. It is a book I would recommend to others, but I think it has a very specific audience.
Order your own copy of the book here.