(Book review) In the Middle of the Mess


Reviewed by: Paige McNinch, a professional writing major at Taylor University.

 


Introduction

Title: In the Middle of the Mess

Author: Sheila Walsh

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: Nov. 7, 2017

Format: Print Book

Length: 163 pages

OVERVIEW

Highlighting her struggle with mental illness, Sheila Walsh presents a raw and honest look at the brokenness of life. She goes into detail about the deaths of her father and mother and how those losses affected her life, as well as how various relationships shaped her emotionally and spiritually. She does not shy away from the discussion of difficult topics—including loss, depression, and thoughts of suicide—that are often not well understood or handled by the Church. Rather than condemning those who feel broken and unlovable, Walsh receives them with open, gracious arms and points them to the rest and healing found in Christ.

As one who has struggled with depression, I found this book to be a breath of fresh air. Walsh not only does an excellent job of presenting mental illness’s impact on a person’s life, she also presents it in the grace and truth of God’s word and character. By utilizing a plethora of anecdotes from her own life, she offers a unique look at what it means to trust God amidst the messiness of life. Rather than masking the pain, Walsh encourages a reader to present himself or herself to God honestly, allowing every aspect of life—even pain, anger, and sorrow—to be known fully and accepted by the loving Father. She shows that through confession, prayer, and meditation, one can find unconditional love, grace, and healing in the middle of a mess.

While I appreciate the book’s honest look at the pain in this life, there were a few things I felt could be improved upon. Although her illustrations are helpful in demonstrating the brokenness found in day-to-day life, I often found that her stories strayed from the point she was trying to make. She includes many stories in each chapter, and several of them contained unimportant details, creating a bit of confusion. I would often flip back a couple of pages and ask myself, “Wait, what is it she’s trying to say here?” Additionally, I felt Walsh relied a bit too heavily on these illustrations. I would have appreciated seeing more references to Scripture, to medical research, and to case histories instead.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

4 stars

Suggested Audience

Adults, most notably Christian women who have ever been overwhelmed by the struggles of life.

Christian Impact

This book reminds readers they are not alone in their struggles, whatever they may be, and it encourages them to find healing and rest in Christ.

Other Notes: There is a short reflection offered at the end of each chapter that encourages the reader to apply the reading to the reader’s own life and provides Scripture to pray through and reflect on.



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About Evangelical Church Library Association

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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