In the Middle of the Mess

by: Sheila Walsh


Everyday Salvation
First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall. Both are the mercy of God.
Julian of Norwich
Every morning the sun comes up anyway.— Rich Mullins


I looked at my face in my dressing room mirror—pale and tired. I was losing weight. I wasn’t trying to, but I didn’t have the heart to eat these days. I felt sick and cold inside. What was wrong with me? It was time for my daily television show, and Gail, our floor director, entered my room. “Five minutes to air,” she said. I picked up my notes, headed out into the studio, and took my seat on the set of Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh. The lights came up, and the heat set against my cheeks. The director pointed to me, and I opened. “Hello, and welcome. I’m sure you’ve heard other recording artists perform songs such as ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord’ and ‘Awesome God.’ Today’s guest has written these and other hit songs. But not only is he a writer and recording artist, he also feels a responsibility to be real, to tell the truth, to be genuine with his audiences. His latest album, The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume 2, gives us a hint: he spends time thinking about life. Welcome, Rich Mullins.”

The studio audience offered conservative church applause, and the cameras turned to Rich at the piano as he sang, “Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You.” There was something about the way he sang, the depth of his lyrics, and the pain that welled into that chorus; it was as if that aching was just beneath the surface, haunting his music. It was both a comforting and unsettling piece, the kind of song that leaves you feeling raw and ragged. The lyrics
bored down to the place where my secret lived, a secret I could never tell.

After playing his opening number, Rich walked from the piano and took a seat opposite me on the studio set. The applause died down, and I asked Rich my first question. “What are the most important things in your life?”

I still remember his answer. “At any given moment it might be slightly different, but I would imagine that nothing would be more important than becoming fully
who you were supposed to be. You know what I mean? For me, that’s what salvation is all about.”

I wish I’d known how profound his response was. I wish I’d dug deeper and asked him to talk more about his understanding of salvation, the process of becoming more fully who we’re supposed to be. I had no idea how much I would need his wisdom in the weeks and years ahead—the wisdom of a thirty-six-year-old musician. Instead, I pushed forward with my preplanned questions. “How are you different at thirty-six than twenty-six?”

“Oh, I’m very different,” he said. “I have failed enough that I’ve learned that it’s not the end of the world to make mistakes . . . every morning the sun comes up anyway. I think when you stop being afraid of failing, you become a lot more free.”

Throughout the interview, Rich talked about accountability, community, and the loneliness of not being known. He was speaking to my deepest pains, my deepest needs, but I didn’t quite understand yet. What’s more, I didn’t know how to ask for help. The very idea of being free, of being fully who God created me to be, felt cruel and unattainable. I didn’t know God had a plan in place to help me understand. I didn’t know that in just a few weeks everything in my life would come crashing down and this would be the beginning of a fresh understanding of salvation for me. I didn’t know that this kind of salvation—the salvation Rich spoke of—isn’t a pretty process. Sometimes it’s a costly, bloody mess.

I hadn’t thought about this interview with Rich Mullins in years, but his name kept coming up in conversations. So I decided to find the interview on YouTube. When I did, I asked my husband, Barry, if he wanted to watch it with me. The familiar music began, and as the show opened, I was transported back to that time and place. Neither of us said anything for a few moments. Then Barry asked, “Do you see the date of this show?” “Yes. It’s May 1992,” I said. Then I realized the significance of the date.

“How long was it before you ended up in the psych hospital?”

“Three months.”

“But you look fine. If I didn’t know, I’d never believe you were on the edge of a breakdown.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He was right. I looked very put together and in control, but I was dying inside, disappearing a little more every day. “I was very good at looking fine. That was one of my problems.” “It’s not only that. Listen to your accent,” Barry said. “I’ve watched some shows you taped in 1990. But here, you sound so much more Scottish. I wonder why?”…






Sheila Walsh is a Scottish lass known as “the encourager” to the over 5.5 million women she’s met and spoken to around the world. She loves being a Bible teacher, making God’s Word practical, and sharing her own story of how God met her when she was at her lowest point and lifted her up again.

Her message:  GOD IS FOR YOU!

Sheila also enjoys being an author—in fact she likes to write everyday—and has sold more than five million books.  Her newest, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MESS, STRENGTH FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL, BROKEN LIFE, (book and Bible study) releases in November 2017.  She is also the co-host of the television program Life Today, airing in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.