Best-selling author, latest: The Storm Inside (2014)
Featured speaker with Women of Faith, she has ministered to more than 5 million women
Former 700 Club co-host and Heart to Heart host
Married to Barry and has son, Christian
Sheila Walsh: Weathering Your Emotional Storms
THE STORM INSIDE
In 2012 Sheila spoke to a large group of pastors’ wives and women in leadership in ministry. At the end, she invited each woman to write down any burden they no longer wanted to carry. She asked each one to bring their card up to the front of the room and leave it at the foot of the cross. Women of all ages laid their cards down. Sheila promised to pray for each woman. As she picked up the cards to take them home, she began to read them. The words shocked her. These mature, faithful servants of Christ were stalked with the same issues of new believers (heartache, disappointment, fear, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, regret, abandonment, shame and insecurity). “The responses on the cards floored me because I know this room overflowed with women who loved God wholeheartedly and who had walked with Him for many years – and yet the very same burdens weighed down their hearts.” As Sheila prayed she began to ask God why women struggle with these persistent and devastating ten issues. She says, “It almost seems as though some very intentional, finely turned plot against us intends to rob us of who we are in Christ.”
“A rabbit, it has been said, can outrun a lion. But the rabbit’s great fear of the lion paralyzes it, making it easy for the lion to catch and consume it. The all-out attacks we face as God’s daughters have the potential to render us as impotent as the rabbit. We can be frozen by the chaos we feel inside instead of choosing to stand on the truth of who God’s Word says we are,” shares Sheila.
A SILENT STORM
“Your life does not end when devastating circumstances threaten to consume you,” shares Sheila. Her father died when she was five years old. From the day of his funeral until she was in her thirties Sheila and her mom never spoke about what happened to her father. It was only when she ended up in a psychiatric ward at thirty-four that the roof blew off all the family secrets. “For almost thirty years, I thought my mom blamed me for my father’s death while she had been blaming herself,” shares Sheila. Silent regret had rusted away years of shared comfort, forgiveness, and support. “I can tell you today that for my mom and for me, God is a Redeemer. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost. Nothing is missed,” reveals Sheila.
Sheila says regret, especially for Christian women, can be devastating. She offers the following advice to women who are ready to lay down the weight of regret they have carried for so long:
- Be honest and own your regret – Don’t stuff regret down into the basement of your soul. Admit it, confess it and ask Christ for forgiveness for what you have done or left undone.
- Grieve your losses – Allow yourself to feel the pain of things you wish had been or once were. Grieving hurts but also heals.
- Forgive – Forgive yourself and those who played a part in the regrets of your past. When you forgive, you are the one set free.
- Ask God for the courage to fully engage in life again – The devil lies. Remind yourself that God has delivered you.
FORGIVENESS = FREEDOM
Of all the letters Sheila has received over the years the most sobering have all concerned forgiveness. “Forgiveness means dragging our will and our feelings to line up with the will of God as an act of obedience. Refusing to forgive (whether ourselves or another) puts us in direct rebellion against God. Sheila shares from her own experience about the issue of forgiveness.
As a Christian artist, Sheila recalls a thirty-city tour with a promoter that ran away with all the money at the end. He paid no one. Sheila ended up selling her house to pay the band and the crew. Ultimately, she thought she had made peace with it by relinquishing it to God. A few years later, she saw the man at an artist retreat and realized she was still carrying unforgiveness in her heart. She fell to her knees and forgave the troubled man that day. Sheila says, “Being betrayed by someone we love and trust often leaves us feeling emotionally ravished. If we will not forgive, then we cannot live free. We might seem free to others, but internally we remain caged by whatever we refuse to relinquish to Christ.”
God revealed unforgiveness to Sheila another time while getting a pedicure. The person’s name came to her mind after reading a passage in the Bible as her feet were soaking. It had been twenty-one years since the offense against her. Sheila considered it a “righteous wound” that she bore for the sake of Christ. But Christ showed her that day it was unforgiveness. Moments later she found the contact information in her phone and sent this individual a text message. God made it clear that she was to ask for forgiveness and not to mention anything this individual had ever done to her. So, she did. A few moments later she got a text message from the person saying, “I gladly forgive you, but do you mind reminding me what happened?” She quickly reminded him of a situation that occurred many years ago. His response, “I do now. I was such a jerk back then. God has been working on my heart over the years. Please forgive me! Sheila says forgiving set them both free.
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