“Me too!” These are powerful words.
These words remind us that we are not alone. Sadly, so many people go through life carrying their struggles and pain alone. Many have been taught that sharing your feelings and opening up emotionally to others is a sign of weakness. Listen to this quote: “If there was pain, it was best to keep it to myself; I wouldn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t a good Christian because I hurt or felt hopeless.” Sadly, many people believe this. In Sheila Walsh’s book, “In the Middle of the Mess: Strength for this Beautiful Broken Life”, she helps us see that “you are not alone. Even more, you are loved. You don’t have to keep secrets or believe lies. There is a safe place where you can find healing. This is the invitation of this book- an invitation to find healing, to find strength in the middle of your mess.” This is my November book recommendation! I highly recommend this book; it is powerful!
What a love most about this book is Sheila’s complete vulnerability. She shares her painful childhood story because she wants to help others find freedom from their hurts and pains. In her book, she shares that her father committed suicide when she was only 5 years old. Sadly, no one in her family talked about what happened and Sheila grew up believing that her dad’s death was her fault. This is what she said, “I grew up carrying my own ship’s load. I was taught- though not explicitly- that I didn’t really need anyone to help me carry the loss of my dad. I didn’t allow myself to feel sad or mad or anything else that felt overwhelming, because sharing emotional weight was not acceptable.” It is heartbreaking to think that she carried all this emotional pain as a child alone.
Like Sheila, many of us hide our hurts and pain. Sheila says in her book, “Though speaking the truth can be painful, sharing the secrets can bring healing.” What if instead of hiding, we shared our struggles. What if we answered “me too” when we relate to someone else’s story so they know they are not alone.”
For those that have struggled with an eating disorder, you could answer “me too” when someone shares their struggle
For those that grew up in a home where one of your parents was an alcoholic, you could answer “me too” when someone shares their childhood pain.
For those that struggled with infertility or are still struggling with infertility, your answer “me too” can bring healing to someone else struggling with the same thing.
What healing we could all share together by being vulnerable about our pain and our hurts. Sheila shares in her book that “shame thrives in the hiding and solitude. It whispers, You’re all alone, You’ll never be enough. You’ll never change.” However, listen to what she says is the antidote: “Freedom begins in a community of “me too” people, people committed to helping you carry your burden.”
WOW- healing comes from a community of “me too” people. I want to be a “me too” person. Here are some statements that I can answer “me too”.
I am divorced.
I struggle with being a perfectionist.
I am a single mom.
I struggle with reacting in anger when I am hurt or disappointed.
I lost a baby girl at 16 weeks pregnant.
I struggled with low self-esteem as a teenager due to severe acne.
You might find it therapeutic to make a list and share it with some close friends too. There is something powerful about putting it into words and sharing it with others. For Sheila, she had to go through a nervous breakdown on national television before she started to deal with her childhood pain and share her hurts. She said, “I was very good at looking fine. That was one of my problems.” Do you struggle with that same problem? For the outside you look like you have it all together, but on the inside, you are hurting and in pain. I pray you will be vulnerable and share with a close friend what is going on inside.
As an adult, our deep childhood wounds can easily trigger us. Sheila says, “Have you ever found yourself in a place like this? You’re doing great one minute, loving God and people, and then you fall right over yourself the next minute? In those moments, you know your reaction has little to do with what’s in front of you and everything to do with what’s inside you.” Wow- this is so true. When we get emotionally triggered, it is important that we try to understand the deeper pain behind what is going on. Sheila asks, “Have you ever found yourself in one of those moments when your reaction was out of proportion to the event that precipitated it?” If we are honest, we all have. “She encourages you to pay attention to these reactions. Take time to sit with them. What’s happening in those moments?”
It is not easy to dig deep and try to understand our emotions and our hurts and pains. It requires time, energy, hard work and many tears. However, when we do, we will experience a healing that far outweighs the hard work it took to get there. I know first hand! I love what Sheila says next in her book, “When I stop reacting from a place of pain and instead respond by taking my wounds to God, I find peace.” We have to take our hurts and pains to God to get healing. She says, “Raw, honest pain offered to God brings us closer to His heart.” God wants to comfort you and walk through life with you but you have to honestly share what is going on. Sheila says, “Don’t hide your pain. God welcomes you as you are. Cry out. The depth of your honesty invites the glory of God’s presence.” Wow- this is powerful!
I want to end today with one of my favorite parts of her book. She talks about understanding our true identity. Listen to this quote: “Becoming fully who we were made to be means remembering who we really are and believing the truth instead of the lies life has led us to believe. Our true identity is found in the love of God, not in the labels that we’ve worn.”
She goes on to say this:
I’m not “Sheila Walsh, whose father committed suicide.”
I’m not “Sheila Walsh, the psych patient.”
I’m not “Sheila Walsh, the shameful.”
I’m Sheila Walsh, a well-loved daughter of the Kings of kings.
She then asks us some questions:
“Do you define yourself by your circumstances? Do you define yourself as divorced, or fat, or financially troubled? Do you define yourself by your singleness, your loneliness? Do you see yourself as forgotten or passed over? Do you define yourself by the mess you’re in the middle of, right now? It’s easy to believe the labels we’ve been handed or the lies about our identities, but God doesn’t define us by our assumed collection of labels. He doesn’t define us by our weakness. When God looks at us, He sees well-loved daughters. Mediate on that truth!”
WOW- I love this- we are not defined by our past mistakes, our hurts and pain. The mess we’re in the middle of, right now, does not define us. Instead, we are defined by God; he calls you and me a well-loved daughter of the Kings of kings! I pray that you will remember this when you are in the middle of the mess. God loves you and cares deeply about you. He wants to help you get to a place of healing. Sheila says it so well, “No matter your circumstances, here’s the truth: You have a story; and that story has its own peculiar mess. You can confess that story to Christ and let go. You can let Him start a work of healing, even now, right in the middle of your mess. You can also confess your story to your sisters; you can let them know they are not alone. The truth is, I need to hear your story, and other women need to hear your story. In the sacrament of sharing we feel less alone and create safe spaces for others to say, “me too.”
Please feel free to forward this to anyone going through a hard time; I hope it encourages both you and others.
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