Book Review: In the Middle of the Mess

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

How could I not pick up a book with a title like In the Middle of the Mess? Though it was the title that initially caught my eye, there’s a lot more than a catchy title going for Shelia Walsh’s newest book.

9781400204915Shelia talks very openly and honestly about her mental health history in In the Middle of the Mess, and it’s refreshing to see this topic being discussed more in Christian circles. It’s a times shocking to read a believer admitting to deep struggles with mental illness, but it’s also encouraging to anyone else who’s been there in the past, or is in the middle of it now. It’s not just a book about Sheila’s struggles though, she shares certain concrete strategies that help her weather the hard times in life, and will help you too. While this would be a wonderful resource for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, or grief, there’s something to be learned for everyone. All of us go through difficult times, and the advice shared in this book may be applied to anyone’s life to help us weather the storms and grow closer to God. It’s not a book of neat, easy answers, but it is a book of encouragement and helpful suggestions.

My biggest take-away from the first reading of In the Middle of the Mess was the idea of being honest in my prayers. I had never felt like I could really open up to God when praying. It seems silly given that God already knows the depths of my heart, but I always had this idea that I needed to present a “good front” to God when I prayed. I never told God that I struggled, or that I was disappointed, or that I didn’t know what to do. That just wasn’t the type of thing that good Christians are supposed to pray. Shelia’s book radically challenged my thinking in this area! I often journal my prayers, and since reading this book, I’ve noticed a much more open and honest kind of prayer written in my journal. There is something incredibly freeing about admitting that things are not the way that I’d hoped, and that I’m angry I have to deal with that. Even more than that, in the admitting, I can start to let go and let God work on my heart. I’m planning to read through this book again after the holidays because it was truly that helpful!

The church hasn’t always supported people with mental illnesses or people suffering through truly hard things, and I think it’s in part because we don’t always know how to help. In the Middle of the Mess is a must-read for anyone dealing with mental illness, and for those who walk through it with them. It’s honestly a book that’s good for anyone who has to walk through the hard things though. In addition to the book, there’s also a study guide and DVD video study. Those resources would be wonderful for a support group!

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