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OKAYNESS IS OKAY
“I wish I could take my twenty-one-year-old (recovering-from teenage-acne) face in my hands and tell her, It’s okay not to be okay, I promise,” shares Sheila. After graduating seminary, Sheila says she was determined to get everything right. If she could give her younger self some good advice she would say, “You’ll fall down over and over again, but rather than understanding the love of God less you’ll get it more. Your heart is going to break, but you’ll survive, and it will change how you see people, not as causes to be saved but as people to be loved. Sometimes the night will get very dark, but you will never be alone even when you’re absolutely convinced you are. And, you are loved.”
Sheila believes many of us assume that God’s love is based on our behavior. “We’ve set ourselves up for a devastating fall,” she says. Maybe you promise God you’ll pray more, share your faith more or read your Bible, but when you fall short of these things maybe you feel like a failure. Sheila says, “I’ve let go of beating myself up trying to live a life that Jesus never asked me to live. The life my ‘fresh out of seminary, determined to save the world, to love the unlovely, get nine hours of sleep every night and never let God down self’ tried to live for so long.” She says it is okay not to be okay. That’s why Jesus came. Sheila gave her life to God when she was eleven years old. Today, she is sixty-one, “That’s fifty years of falling down and getting back up. Fifty years of trying to be worth loving. Fifty years of doing the same things over and over, hoping they’d turn out differently this time. It’s also fifty years of the faithfulness of God and this beautiful invitation from Christ,” reveals Sheila.
There is an old Chinese proverb that Sheila shares, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” No matter what’s true in your life at this moment, Sheila wants to remind you that God loves you, right now, no matter what’s going on around or inside you. Whether you’re facing the end of a marriage, an empty nest or perhaps you have lost a loved one. You are worth fighting for. Christ thought you were worth dying for. There are rarely quick fixes in life. Instead, it’s a process, and God is in it with us, all the way. “He doesn’t look for perfection in us; He sees that in Christ. You don’t need to be okay because Jesus has made you all right. He’s paid the bill in full. He’s covered our not okay-ness,” shares Sheila.
Sheila offers the following practical steps for moving forward after struggling through a storm in life. She says these are daily, doable steps that are God-help not self-help.
- Take the First Step – Tell God the whole truth. Write it down. Sheila shares a time when she poured her heart out to God while struggling with severe back pain which left her barely able to walk. She faced a complicated back surgery with an uncertain outcome. She poured her fears out to God and in the process realized that she had defined the quality of her life by what she was able to accomplish when really it was about bringing glory to God.
- Admit That You Are Stuck and Struggling – Start a journal and write down what you’ve walked through positive and negative.
- Change the Way You Think – Capture your thoughts. Write them down and then replace them with truth to change your negative thinking pattern. Many women feel they don’t measure up as a Christian. They believe they don’t pray enough or have enough faith. As a result, they believe God does not answer their prayers or He is disappointed in them. Sheila believes this is not how God wants us to live. Instead of believing lies, it is time to transform our thinking by telling ourself the truth.
- Face the What-ifs Even If You Are Afraid – Don’t let fear take control. Remind yourself of God’s promises when fear tries to grab your heart.
- Let Go of What You Can’t Control – Write down the areas of your life that you struggle to control. Ask God to help you let go of those areas. Life can be scary for a person who lives with shame. Sheila had no control over her father’s anger and suicide. For years, the shame that developed in her pushed her into a desperate need to control something. She didn’t turn to food or alcohol. Instead, she tried to control the love of God. She had to learn to let go of what she couldn’t control and trust God.
- Rise Above Disappointments – Be honest with yourself about the areas of your life that are disappointing. Write them down and then talk to God about them.
- Celebrate Your Scars as Tattoos of Triumph – Sheila shares, “Scars are proof that God heals, and His love is greater than whatever tried to destroy us.” God treasures you. Give thanks at how far you’ve come. For Sheila, she says the scars of Christ met the woundedness in her in a small church in Washington, DC in 1992. She had been in a psychiatric hospital for three weeks and her doctor encouraged her to take a trip outside the hospital with one of her nurses. She went to church and remembered at the end of the pastor’s message she ran to the front of the church and lay face down before a wooden cross. Something deep began in her life that day.
- Decide to Start Again…and Again – Decide to move forward every single day. Let go of the labels you have worn (single mom, financial failure, alcoholic, etc.) and embrace your identity in Christ. “It’s hard to believe that what happened to me as a five-year-old girl could still cast its shadow so many years later.” This fear showed up most often with Barry when they were in the car together. Barry is a good driver yet when he was driving her stomach would be in knots and she would grab her seat and make noises as if she was about to crash. When she rode with other people she did not have this reaction. Barry was the one person she trusted the most in the world before him it was her dad. Her last encounter with her dad, who suffered from brain damage, was life or death. If the cane he had raised above her head came down on her skull he would have killed her. She had internalized the message that the one you love the most is potentially the most dangerous. Even after realizing this connection she says it’s a journey she is still on and working through.
Sheila is a popular speaker and Bible teacher. She has taught God’s Word to over 6 million women she’s met and spoken to around the world. She has sold more than five million books. She is also the co-host of the television program Life Today, airing in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia with over 300 million viewers daily. She loves to support missions work through the Life Today ministry, working worldwide to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, provide medical help to the sick, and rescue boys and girls from sex slavery. She most recently traveled to Africa, the Dominican Republic, and Southeast Asia.
Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: Sheila WalshIt's Okay Not to Be Okay: Moving Forward One Day at a TimeSheila Walsh on How "It's Okay Not to Be Okay"Show Guest Bio: