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.