Monica and I had the privilege of interviewing Sheila Walsh recently. Sheila was all over Christian radio in the 80’s, a talented singer songwriter, topping the charts.After that, she was a popular TV co-host on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson. After that, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital for treatment of depression. Co-Host of the 700 Club in the morning, on the floor in a fetal position, under suicide watch that evening.
She shared with us her story ( Sheila’s Story ) which is more common than we dare to imagine. Many talented, authentic, anointed people are in public ministry ( church / music / radio ) – really helping others…yet are driven by their pain, more than their passion. Sheila put it this way, ” Some people deal with childhood stuff by hiding with food, work, drugs, or alcohol – I hid in Christian ministry. If I could have enough success, and help enough people, maybe my pain would subside. It didn’t.”
I wept as we listened to her, because her story was my story. After years in church pastoral ministry and Christian radio, Monica filed for divorce. Two “Adult Children of Alcoholics”, we had no clue about the wounds driving our behavior, much less how to untangle our mess, and our charade of a Christian marriage. For more of that story, see http://www.randyandmonica.com. Long story short, we began to seek counseling, began to let the Lord into our individual broken places, and have the marriage we always hoped we could have.
One of the “Aha’s” I realized during a counseling session was that I suffered from depression, due to the traumatic childhood I had experienced. My father was an alcoholic, abusive physically & emotionally. After my mom’s death at age 9, he abandoned my brother and I, we ended up in a foster home. We were eventually reunited with him, only to suffer more abuse. I was literally homeless during stretches of high school & college.
Fast forward – after 15 years of trying to outrun my pain by helping enough people, my counselor called me out. He asked me what came to my mind when he said the word depression. I began to weep ( I cry a lot ). It was embarrassing – like I had been found out. It was also a relief – this thing that drove my behavior…this dark cloud that followed me, had a name. I was able to address it with prayer, more focused counseling, and yes, meds, for a time to restore the missing chemical balance in my brain.
Sheila Walsh summed up her experience, and posed a very important question, ” Hiding in Christian ministry was perfect – what are they going to do, take my Bible away and have an intervention? Only God knows whether we’re ministering out of pain or passion.”
You may be successful in your chosen work. Others may applaud you, as they did Sheila for years. You may have convinced yourself you’re doing what you do for the right reasons, but something’s not right. The truth be told, you lack real connection with spouse, kids, co-workers…often you feel like you’re faking it.
Is it possible you’re doing what you do out of unresolved pain? Is it possible that you, too, are trying to out run a dark cloud that seems to stalk you? Freedom and deeper connections are possible. They start with awareness and honesty. We all have wounds that are deep…all of us. Admitting it, and letting the Lord into those broken places changes everything. That elusive abundant life thing is real. Too many of us settle. C.S Lewis said,
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
John 8:32 says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” That process of being set free is both instant ( salvation ) and ongoing, as we allow the Truth into every bandaged corner of our hearts. It is a life long process, not something we want to hear in our smartphone app crazy culture. There must be an app for that.
Francesca Battistelli’s song, If We’re Honest, sums it up,
“Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine, ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side…If we’re honest…If we’re honest.”
If any of this resonates with you, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.