Do you ever feel like you can’t hold on any longer? Holding on to what matters can seem futile, as though you’ve done everything you can, and you want to give up. Sometimes it feels like you just have to let go. Let go of trust, love, even faith. But you don’t have to let go. There’s a purpose to holding on. And you can find it even when your grip on life starts to loosen.
But holding on is more than just a way to keep yourself from falling. It’s a time to figure out how to move forward. When you’re holding on, everything in your life seems like it’s hanging there with you—and that’s a lot of responsibility. But there’s a reason why you’re holding on.
Sheila Walsh, author and co-host of Life Today, had to hold on many times in her life. She had to learn how to keep a grip on a life that weighed her to the point of nearly letting go.
In the 1990s, Sheila Walsh felt she simply couldn’t hold on any longer. Her emotions were suffocating her, making it impossible to sleep. Through it all, she kept encouraging herself with Scripture and asking God to speak to her. Even during her 21-day fast when she hoped to hear from God, Sheila still felt miserable and isolated.
But when you continue to hold on, something eventually makes you let go. That moment, for Sheila Walsh, occurred on the TV show The 700 Club. As she was being interviewed, Sheila’s emotions finally took over, and she burst into tears. After bringing herself to a psychiatric hospital, Sheila discovered why she was in despair, why it felt like she was barely holding on: clinical depression.
Sheila’s mental health struggles eventually led her to a Christian hospital in Washington, D.C. After therapy and evaluation, the effects of Sheila’s depression on her life slowly became clear. She saw that she tried to cover up certain truths in her life, tried to cloak those realities so she couldn’t see them anymore. She struggled to know how to handle the situation.
Therapy, Scripture, and medication helped Sheila begin to sift through the complex feelings depression left her with. But Sheila realized there was something more she had to do. So she gave up her role as co-host of The 700 Club and began attending Fuller Theological Seminary.
Speaking at the Women of Faith Conference gave her a chance to have conversations with others in similar situations. There, she talked about her depression and found that many more people resonated with her struggles.
Though Sheila was just beginning to recapture her hope, there were more trials that threatened to drench her in discouragement once again.
But then she heard something devastating. Something that transplanted her back into that season of holding on.
Sheila’s doctor called them, requesting that Sheila undergo more tests to check on the baby. But soon, they heard that their baby wouldn’t live. Sheila was holding on yet again. Despair and resentment became her defaults. She fixated on these emotions as she waited to hear more about her child.
There was no way of knowing how much longer he’d survive, even as he continued to develop in her body.
Thankfully, she soon discovered that her results had gotten mixed up with another woman’s results, and her son was born and grew up healthy.
Sheila discovered how valuable it was to “tell God the whole truth,” even though she didn’t know what would happen. But that realization didn’t come immediately. At first, Sheila didn’t know what to do. At a Southern California beach one morning before she got the results, Sheila prayed a fervent prayer, and continued praying that God would be in the situation. And He was.
In her journey, Sheila discovered that telling herself to get control of her life again didn’t always work. She kept telling herself these words, but it wasn’t helping.
Her hard work of simply holding on had a purpose. And God helped Sheila hold on, like He helps all of us hold on. Whenever we are in a difficult situation, God is always waiting for the best time to speak, as Sheila discovered. But we should be holding on not just for the sake of holding on. We should be holding on for a purpose: to move in the right direction.
And sometimes this allows us to experience God’s love in a new way. Sheila realized, through her struggles, that it changed the way she thought about prayer.
And sometimes letting go is okay. But letting go doesn’t mean giving up. Sheila Walsh writes on her website, “There are moments in life when there is nothing you can do to control what’s happening. In those times, find your hiding place under the shelter of God’s wings.”
Just because we’re holding on doesn’t mean we’re not safe. The Bible says that “He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4, NIV).
Even when it feels like we’re not doing anything when we’re holding on, God is always doing something. Christ makes it possible for us to hold on without letting go.
Sheila Walsh shares her passion through speaking, writing books, and recording songs. Her books and songs have gained popularity, with multiple songs becoming top 10 singles and multiple bestselling books.
You can purchase Sheila’s new book, “Holding On When You Want to Let Go,” on Amazon.
This article was written by Maggie Noble, from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.