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Join Sheila Walsh on her journey from despair to joy
Beautiful and talented, Sheila Walsh was at the pinnacle of her career, appearing daily on television as cohost of The 700 Club. One day she found herself walking away from it all and checking in to a psychiatric hospital, where she stayed for a month.
From the outside everything seemed fine, but on the inside Sheila was in trouble. In her journal she wrote, “Lord, please hold me. I’m falling into a dark well. I feel as if I am disappearing a little more every day. I am so angry inside that I am afraid of myself. I feel so alone.” How did this happen? What brought her to her knees?
Loved Back to Life takes readers on Sheila’s journey of the soul from hopelessness to joy as she finds that although the road was scary, at every turn God beckoned her to follow and trust Him. And He did not let her down.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than five million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess series, Peace for Today, Loved Back to Life, The Storm Inside, Five Minutes with Jesus and The Longing in Me. She is cohost of Life Today with James and Betty Robison. Sheila lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.
Read an Excerpt
Loved Back to Life
How I Found the Courage to Live Free
By Sheila Walsh
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Sheila Walsh
All rights reserved.
The Distant Rumble
The weight of this sad time we must obey. Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. —William Shakespeare, King Lear
It was a glorious summer morning in 1992. The sun was rising over the water, and the bees were beginning to hum. I went out into the yard to fill the bird feeder and stood for a moment in the stillness.
I saw my neighbor sail off in his little crabbing boat, and I waved good morning. I wondered about his life. He was always alone, and every day he set out onto the water, the first to ripple the quiet. A solitary life. My little white dog barked at a visiting duck, but the duck seemed unimpressed.
I drank in the sounds of the lapping water as it broke on the boat dock. I imagined for a moment that I was ten years old again, home in Scotland, standing by the ocean, my place of peace.
I turned my back on the water to prepare for the day ahead. I felt heavy inside, as if every bone in my body had turned to lead while I slept. After I showered, I took my coffee outside, and in the morning warmth I prayed a now familiar prayer: "God, please help me get through one more day."
It was a lovely drive from my house to the television studios where I worked. I left early enough each morning to avoid the rush of traffic. As I drove through the main gates of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), I thought again how strange it was to find myself in Virginia Beach, as cohost of The 700 Club.
I had moved to Los Angeles from England in 1986. I had been a contemporary Christian artist since my early twenties traveling around the world, but my new record company was based in LA, and most of my current touring was in the United States, so it made sense to make this my home. I had fallen in love with this country instantly. I loved the hope that seemed to be part of the fabric of the people.
In 1988, one of the guest coordinators at CBN saw me being interviewed on a morning show, a Canadian program called 100 Huntley Street, which broadcast extensively to certain markets across America. She taped the interview and showed it to Dr. Pat Robertson, the president of CBN, who was looking for someone to fill the position of cohost for their f lagship show, The 700 Club. The network f lew me in to meet with Pat and to audition for the position. I came armed with three "Christian" dresses from Laura Ashley. If you've ever been in one of her stores you know what I mean—f lowers, f lowers, and more f lowers!
I had worked for three years with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London, but this was very different. I was used to taping shows in advance, so that if anything went wrong, there was time to correct it. This was a live show, and because it was live, it was hard to rehearse. The afternoon I arrived, the producer enlisted the help of a secretary for me to "practice on." But I asked such goofy questions we spent more time laughing than rehearsing.
The next morning was the real thing. I was taken to makeup at 7:00 a.m., and by the time I left, my face felt as if it had been freshly plastered. I was definitely made-up! My hair no longer had an opinion; it was set in stone and larger than life.
Pat arrived a few minutes before the show started and prayed with six of us in his dressing room. Then we were on. I was petrified. Within minutes it became apparent to me that I was supposed to be fairly fluent in world events. But when Pat asked me about my perspective on the current situation on the West Bank in Israel, my mind went blank and I lamely replied, "I'm with the Bank of America!"
Despite the fact that I was obviously not the Scottish Barbara Walters, I was hired that day. A month later I moved from the West Coast to Virginia Beach.
I loved my job and the stimulation of discussing pressing issues with prominent church leaders and theologians. I subscribed to The Economist and brushed up on American history and world events. As a student at London Bible College, I had been constantly challenged to open my mind to the input of other believers whose experience of God was a little different from mine. I like to live with mystery. And every day I interviewed some of my spiritual heroes such as Billy Graham, Charles Colson, Elizabeth Elliot, and countless others.
On the surface I had it made, and everything looked fine—but I was not fine. I had not been fine for a long time. Even surrounded by others, I felt isolated. Trapped by a suffocating anxiety. Restless, though I couldn't say why. Numbed by a frantic pace. I felt as if I was slowly losing my mind.
Life, like a volcano, seems to offer early warning signals. Long before a volcano blows, there are signs that the level of activity under the surface has increased. Distant noises and rumbles become more pronounced, and that was certainly true for the sickening stirrings in my own soul.
There were many areas of my life that did not always make sense to me. I loved my job. I loved being able to talk about the love of God to the millions who watched every day. And I received hundreds of letters from viewers telling me how the show impacted their lives. I knew this was true, but sometimes I felt like a secondhand car salesman; I had a sickening sense that what I just sold people may not get them all the way home.
Many of our viewers were very sick and longed to be healed. I believed, and still believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is able to do anything. He only has to speak a word and disease is gone. But, at least for the moment, in America those miraculous healings are the exception rather than the rule. Day after day many people wait, wondering if this will be "their day." If it's not, they wonder what is wrong with them. Some people claim that if you have not been healed, it is your fault; you have unconfessed sin, or you are harboring resentment toward someone.
I realize that the Bible is very clear on our responsibility to confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another so that we may be healed. But what do we say to the many people who love God passionately, who have done all that they know to do, and still are not healed? I'm afraid we either doubt their efficacy in confession, or we simply walk away and say nothing. How barbaric we can be in our perception of faith, how brutal in our pursuit of the miraculous.
It was a privilege to be part of a ministry that reached out across the world and affected the lives of so many, but I used to wonder about the viewers who watched from a wheelchair or a hospital bed. Was I helping them in their journey or making them feel more alone? I once received a letter from a young girl who was losing her battle with cancer. She watched the show every day. Sometimes it helped her, she said, and other times she wanted to take her shoe off and throw it through the screen. "You show me people every day who have been healed, and I thank God with you, but you never talk about people like me, who love God but who are dying and are trying in the midst of it all to live and die in a way that would honor Him. We are part of the family too." I was torn by her cry for dignity and acknowledgment.
I realized then that there are no quick, easy answers for any of us—even for myself. Rumblings preceded the volcanic explosion in my life. But for now I will simply say that my life blew apart when the volcano erupted in 1992, and what I had feared the most happened.
At that time I kept an utterly impossible schedule. Most weeks I was at the studio from Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m. After the show was over on Friday, I would tear out of the studio to catch a flight to wherever my concert was that evening. I would usually have a Friday concert in one city and a Saturday concert in another. I would often get back to Virginia Beach at 11:00 p.m. on Sunday night, and Monday would begin the whole process all over again.
As I look back now, I ask myself why I never stopped to breathe, why I pushed myself so punishingly hard. A large part of it was simply that during those moments when I would stand onstage and talk about the love of God, I felt alive, hopeful; I knew that with God anything was possible. But when the lights went down and the people went home, I felt powerless to grasp hold of those truths for my own life. I could see dimly where I was, and I knew where I wanted to be, but I had no map to get there.
At times I tried to arrest the manic pace of my life, but it's hard to stop a train that is moving so fast. It's easier to just hold on tightly.
By the spring of that eventful year, I knew my grip was weakening. I felt numb and old and distanced from people. I would wake up in a hotel room on a weekend when I was traveling and wonder where I was. Sometimes I would be physically sick before I could pull myself together enough to get ready for a concert.
When I wasn't working, I resorted to an old, familiar habit—walking the beach. On a sunny summer day, I'd be surrounded by laughing children, dogs chasing Frisbees, and radios blaring the latest songs. But I was cold inside, as if the winter wind had never left and was seeping into my bones. My thoughts were slow and labored. I wasn't eating much at all. I would come home from work and lie in a dark room, but I could not sleep.
Sometimes, instead of tossing and turning or staring blankly at the ceiling, I would walk for miles along the beach at five or six o'clock in the morning. But though I was surrounded with beauty, with glorious sunrises over the ocean, I was numb inside. I would pray the same desperate words I had repeated for years: "Lord, please hold me. I'm falling into a dark well." In my journal I wrote, "I feel as if I am disappearing a little more every day. I am so afraid. I feel so alone."
I felt my sanity wavering, unable to find traction. Although I was still functioning on the show, I knew that my distress was beginning to show. One morning as I was listening to a guest I was interviewing answer a question, I found myself staring at her. I didn't have a clue who she was. I couldn't remember what I had asked her or what I should say to her next. Fortunately, I had some notes on my lap, and I quickly referred to them. The floor director must have seen the look of panic on my face because she asked me after the show if I was okay. I said I was fine. I was too embarrassed to admit what had happened. But it shook me to feel so out of control, out of the present, out of my mind. I didn't feel I could talk to anyone about it, so I tried to dismiss it.
A few days after my memory lapse, I started to cry as I was interviewing a guest. It was her kindness that pulled a brick out of the carefully constructed wall around my heart. Instead of answering my first question, she turned the table and asked me how I was doing. It was an innocent, well-intentioned question, but the compassion in her eyes touched a raw place deep inside me until tears made their way past my internal barricade. I could not stop. I wanted to lie down on the studio floor and cry until I had no tears left. Instead, I locked myself in my dressing room until I was sure everyone had gone home.
That summer I received a letter from one of our viewers saying, "I don't know what it is that is causing you so much pain, my dear, but I can see it in your eyes. Please get some help. I am praying for you."
That letter is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received. Somebody noticed. Someone saw beyond the words of encouragement, beyond the smiles, beyond the perfect hair and makeup. Someone heard me. I cried for a long time when I read it. Here was a woman who shared with me that she herself was struggling with cancer, taking time out to pray for me and tell me it was okay to go for help.
I decided to go home to Scotland for a week in September. My family lived an ocean away, and I missed them very much. I had already scheduled vacation time away from the show, and I booked my flight to Glasgow, knowing that time at home with those who've loved me all my life would quiet the threatening rumble inside.
The Links of the Past
My mother is a strong link in a long line of godly Scottish women. She knew a little of what was happening to me, but I knew I had to try to prepare her for how I looked. I had dropped about twenty pounds, a significant loss on my five-foot-four-inch frame.
Mum had seen bad times herself. When I was five years old, my father had suffered a brain thrombosis that not only changed his ability to live a normal life but also drastically impacted his personality. He died a few months later. His absence was felt every day, but my mother filled our home with her spirit, her faith, and her wonderful sense of humor.
She had always been there for me. When I came home from school, I knew she would be waiting to hear all about my day. When I was eleven, I asked my mother if she would pray with me. I wanted to make a personal commitment to beginning my own journey with God, even though I had no idea where that road would lead.
For a while I wanted to be a missionary in India. I don't think I experienced a specific call to the mission field; it just sounded like the ultimate sacrifice. I hated to be away from home, and I was petrified of snakes and spiders, so I figured such a visible, measurable sign would show God that I loved Him. As a child I perceived that I had lost my father's love, and I was terrified that God might stop loving me too.
During my teenage years I remember watching as a friend from church rebelled for a time, drinking and partying. The impact that had on me was a fierce commitment to be different. I would walk along the beach after church or youth group meetings and pray out loud, calling on the stars to be my witnesses that I would never let God down, that He could always count on me. That prayer became a theme for my life.
At nineteen, I left Scotland to study at London Bible College. I thought I had arrived in paradise. They say that when you are tired of London, you are tired of life. Well, I was wide-awake. I went to the ballet, the opera, the theater, all on student tickets. My seat might have been far away, but I was right there on that stage—I never missed a note. Though I drank in the atmosphere daily, I never forgot for a moment why I was there: I wanted to know God's purpose for my life. Still seeing the mission field as a woman's "best option," I joined so many mission prayer groups I often had to let someone else pray first to remind me what group I was in. (It's Thursday, it must be Africa!)
I began to see that there was a mission field right on my doorstep. As part of our evangelistic practicum, I would visit other college campuses on the weekends. For me this was much more than a course I needed for credit. Some of my friends and I put a band together, and as I stood in college gymnasiums singing about my relationship with God, I knew I had found what I was created for.
When I graduated, I let the boat for Calcutta sail past, and I joined Youth for Christ as a staff member, traveling across Europe and the United Kingdom, singing and speaking in schools, universities, and churches. Here am I, a musical evangelist, I often thought. Lord, send me wherever You can use me.
And He did. For the next ten years, I traveled all over the world, gaining an increasingly loyal audience. I released several record albums and served as host for a show called the Rock Gospel Show on Britain's number one television network, the BBC. For the first time ever we had a program featuring contemporary Christian and traditional black gospel music.
I remember how I felt when I read the first review of my debut album. It was a very favorable critique, and I read each line as if the reviewer were talking about someone else, not me. When it sunk in that the article was about me, I pasted the bits that made me feel good onto some of the emptiness in my heart. Later, when it became clear that the BBC show was going to be a success, the British TV Guide did a two-page story on "Scottish Girl Makes It Big in London." People began to stop me on the streets and ask for my autograph. I was now the girl on television. This persona was much bigger than me, and I felt a little lost in her shoes.
When I moved to America, my life became much more complicated. I love this country, but I am very disturbed by the way Americans view success, particularly in the church. As I became well-known, especially after I moved to Christian television, I was looked on as a "special" kind of Christian, a cut above the rest. My persona was the perfect place to hide. I didn't have to wonder who I was—everyone knew. Yet, like many successful people, I was miserable on the inside, because I had no real sense of self. It was as if I had lots of beautiful threads but no fabric to hold them together. The more I poured out of myself into others, even as my own well was running dry, the more the real me disappeared. In time, all that was left was a smiling plaster shell.
Excerpted from Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh. Copyright © 2015 Sheila Walsh. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Volcano
1 The Distant Rumble 3
2 How Do You Fix What You Can't Name? 23
3 Hiding in the Shadows 35
4 Winter 53
Part 2 The Valley
5 Why Are You Afraid? 71
6 Paralyzed by Shame 91
7 The Longest Night 113
8 Forgiveness Comes Full Circle 133
Part 3 The Road Home
9 Following the Shepherd 151
10 New Beginnings 173
11 Reconnecting 191
12 Broken, but Held Close, Never Forgotten 207
About the Author 217
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Oh, this title just spoke to me so loudly. I've used those exact words about myself, needing to be loved back to life. Sheila Walsh had it all together before...well, it all fell apart. See it's funny that our facade of perfection crumbles so quickly, isn't it? The thing we most wish to protect (our image) is the first thing that goes tumbling down, bringing our worst fears to life. Depression, anxiety and recovery are very touchy subjects to write about. Sheila is able to share her story in a tone that is incredibly motherly and yet sisterly at the same time, with finesse. She is beside you, but has gone before you. Her own story gives strength and hope and a sense of God's divine plan for every person. To live with peace and in an intensely intimate relationship with Him, deeply dependent upon Him. I had never heard of Walsh before (I don't have a TV, ha!), but appreciate her story and her sharing it. (book provided by booklookbloggers but all thoughts are my own!)
This book will open blinded eyes. Literally, no. Spiritually, yes. I will cherish this book and continue to feed from this table. I will read this again and again, because this book opens the door that will lead to freedom.
I was privileged to read and highly recommend Sheila Walsh’s new book Loved Back to Life – How I Found the Courage to Live Free. Sheila is a very gifted writer. She shares about her struggle with depression and pain in her own life with openness and transparency. She is real and honest. One would think that a book about depression would be a downer and hard to read. On the contrary, I found this book almost healing and filled with hope and compassion. Sheila shared about her trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that she held onto, even in the darkness of depression that threatened to drown her. Her Savior has walked with her and never abandoned her. Throughout the book she brings the reader back to the life giving truth found in Scripture. I especially liked the chapter, Following the Shepherd. I was shocked and saddened at the reaction of the people around Sheila when she sought treatment for depression. Instead of encouraging and walking alongside her she was blamed and accused of lacking of faith and told that God would never use her again. Hopefully, these days there is less of a stigma to those who battle mental illness. We don’t blame someone diagnosed with cancer or diabetes. But why is it that we may blame someone with depression or other mental illnesses? What most touched me the most was Sheila’s compassion for hurting people. As a host of the 700 Club, which featured incredible stories of people whose prayers were powerfully answered, Sheila wondered what about the people who aren’t healed or whose marriages and businesses fail, or whose loved one dies? Why not feature stories about them too? Learn how the Lord is walking with them in their trial or how they need help. I would recommend this book for someone who is struggling with depression or mental illness or has a loved one who is. I would also recommend this book for Christians, to help us examine ourselves and our responses to people who are hurting. For those who don’t know the Lord, I also recommend this book. You may just find the Good Shepherd who will walk alongside you in your trial. I would like to thank the people at BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.
I know I’m supposed to read the books I receive from Booksneeze® fairly quickly, I did not want to rush through this one and instead read it slowly and in pieces, digesting the chapters and resonating with her journey. Loved Back to Life chronicles Sheila’s descent into depression and how she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital to piece together the broken parts of her soul. Using journal entries, quotes and scriptures, she allows the reader to walk with her though the dark spots of life on her way to healing. I knew who Sheila Walsh was before reading the book, but I didn’t know the specifics of what she did in ministry and how much she was in the public eye. Her honesty even in hurtful situations was real and refreshing, and she held nothing back when discussing her depression and struggles. Maybe it’s because I felt myself relating to similar situations, but picking up this book really appealed to me and made me feel like I was sitting down with a friend over a cup of tea on the back porch as she bared her heart. I encourage anyone who has struggled with depression, especially in the face of working in ministry and battling the “shame and lies,” to read this book. It will leave you with a comfort that it is ok to say you need help, and the hope that God will and does restore you.
Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh is not a story about the good life, of God miraculously keeping His children from all difficulty. Like David’s psalms, it serves as a record of the dragon’s mouth, the flood’s torrent, and the God who does not abandon. Carried by faith through a difficult childhood, Sheila Walsh began her speaking and singing ministry fresh out of college and rode the wave of success to its crest as a cohost of the 700 Club. Her formula for life became “work more, strive more, feel less,” until the point that her life onstage was more real to her than her life offstage. When it was apparent to her coworkers and her viewers that she was losing her struggle to push through her depression, Sheila entered a residential treatment facility in a last, desperate search for wholeness. Loved Back to Life, a spiritual memoir, bursts the boundaries of its genre by teasing out biblically sound teaching from the narrative of Sheila’s anguish and recovery process, and also by debunking some of the faulty theology that shames and silences individuals and their families who suffer from mental illness. Fear of intimacy, fear of failure, fear of disapproval and the resultant anger and isolation kept Sheila Walsh a stranger to grace. In spite of her status as a “Christian celebrity,” she had virtually no support system, and her ministry was actually a pathway to her Dark Night of the Soul. Her fight for joy was aided by these words from John of the Cross: “For a soul will never grow until it is able to let go of the tight grasp that it has on God.” Releasing all her erroneous theories about God, Sheila shares with candor how she learned to give and to receive forgiveness and to follow the Shepherd of her heart. The key truth that she discovered through her journey and unpacks for her readers is that a right understanding of the grace of God yields courage to acknowledge one’s imperfections and hope that give thanks for God’s faithfulness in the broken places. Each chapter of Loved Back to Life is adorned with a very fitting epigraph from an historical writer. Anne Morrow Lindbergh on Chapter 7 captured the essence of Walsh’s return to life: “It isn’t for the moment that you are stuck that you need courage, but for the long, uphill climb back to sanity and security.” Loved Back to Life is an extended hand to those who want to begin, or who are already on that “long, uphill climb.” This book was provided by Thomas Nelson through the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for my unbiased review.
The book is easy to read. Shelia has a way of writing that she comes across to the reader as a loving friend. One who has been there at the lowest point too, has made it and wants to see you make it there. This isn't a guide on how-to get over depression, because the truth is that many people will struggle with it for the rest of their lives. It's a testimony that you can get to a better place mentally and that God will be with you every step of the way. This is a book that I will be rereading and recommending often. (I received a complimentary copy for purpose of review. All thoughts are my own.)
Sheila Walsh sure does know how to pen a book. She captivates you and takes you on a journey that you don't want to end. I just finished this book, and I'm already looking for another one from her. Easy read, easy to understand, and she talks to you right where you're at. She's candid, and couldn't be any more real than what she already is. Which isn't all that easy in the world that we live in. Often the church could put on a happy face when everything is all topsy turvy. Sheila removes any mask or anything that could look like something that isn't truthful. She remains true to herself and true to her Lord.