Sheila Walsh --- one-time host of “The 700 Club,” singer, speaker and prolific author --- has chosen to revisit a particularly difficult season in her life when depression hit hard and fast and left her contemplating life and matters of faith. She takes readers back 15 years and retells her story (as she has done in some of her previous books) surrounding the swirl of downward emotions that yanked at her until she was unable to function.
Leaving her very visible career for a month in a psychiatric hospital, Walsh's take on her stay there is full of both the poignant and the humorous. Though she wanted a break from everything "stage-like" and needed to rethink her faith and what it means to simply "be" and not made to "perform," Walsh notes with irony that she was elected as social director for her fellow patients, a task she says she took seriously while not escaping its comedic aspect.
In this 12-chapter text, Walsh repeatedly offers the theme of "beauty," asking readers to look directly into the heart of the storm and, with eyes of faith, trust that God sees everything and will eventually work all things toward good. Each chapter is full of personal renderings that speak to the topic she is addressing. And lest readers assume all is dark and dreary on the content front, Walsh balances her painful truthfulness with her own struggles with frequent humorous asides that offer fans both sides of the story and help to lighten what could have been an overly intense read. Beginning with her entrance into the hospital, Walsh slowly walks readers up to her current life in Texas, where she lives with husband Barry and son Christian, and is involved with her Women of Faith tours.
Specifically, Walsh touches on understanding why we're all so afraid; gaining the stamina to walk through that next open door; hungering to belong somewhere and to someone; how a broken heart is a mighty tool for healing; how crying out to Jesus is a holy act with eternal implications; using our faith eyes to discerningly see past circumstances and limitations; how simple, quiet trust ennobles us and honors Jesus; learning the great gift of offering forgiveness; how there's always another choice, another chance; understanding the principle of true surrender though it costs us everything; and developing a pilgrim's heart that is always looking upward and heavenward.
Walsh's writing is so honest, so transparent in its presentation, that readers, both male and female, will find connecting points and parallels between her experience and their own. The very act of courageously putting out there that she doesn't have all the answers is perhaps one of Walsh's most endearing and strongest drawing cards. She writes candidly what many Christ followers are too timid to face and admit: simply, that this life of faith is full of unknowns, mysteries that won't be explained this side of heaven.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on February 16, 2010