Out of the fire: Rachel Walsh’s story

Fri, 07/15/2022 – 15:29

Daniel Sperry for Nazarene News

When Rachel Walsh moved to New Mexico in 2015, she became friends with a woman named Lisa, whom she saw at her children’s bus stop every morning. 

The two women had several things in common: they were both battling addictions and living with abusive partners. They bonded over being stuck in the same place in life while their children shared the same classroom. 

Eventually, Lisa and her husband became involved with Sandia Church of the Nazarene because of an addiction recovery program, and Lisa decided to be baptized. 

She asked Walsh to come as her moral support, so she did. That decision changed Walsh’s life. 

Walsh was no longer in an abusive relationship due to her fiancé’s incarceration, but it also left her and her children in a dark place with next to no support. Walsh was frustrated with the pattern of addiction and abuse in her life and needed something to help pull her out.

“Being in that lifestyle takes you to a lot of ugly places,” Walsh said. “I was just tired.”

When she heard the pastor’s message at Lisa’s baptism, Walsh knew it was time to surrender her life to the Lord. At first, she did it for her children.

“I realized at that point that we weren’t taught any [scripture], or coping skills,” Walsh said of her own childhood. “I just thought that if anything we get out of this, my kids will learn to lean on God and His Word.”
As Walsh began attending church for her children, she herself began to change. 

“I just started doing the Bible studies, started volunteering, just kind of making myself be (in a place) where I couldn’t be the person that sat in the back and took off,” Walsh said. 

Two years after attending the baptism service, Walsh and her children are flourishing at Sandia Church of the Nazarene. In fact, her fiancé has started to get involved as well. Walsh sent him a Bible and materials from the Bible studies while in prison and it has changed his life. When she and her children visit, it’s something they discuss together.

“Our whole family dynamic, our discussions, everything has changed,” Walsh said. “We had ended up in this bad place, and now God has brought us back together even though we’re still apart.”

As Walsh looks back over the last few years, she understands how God’s prevenient grace helped prepare her to surrender her life to God. She learned about prevenient grace through a webinar called Theology of Love and Shame hosted by The Discipleship Place, which taught her to get over the barrier of seeing herself as not worthy of God’s love.

“It was a really big barrier, my own shame knowing all of the things I’ve done, the way I’ve lived,” Walsh said.

Now that she is over that barrier, she wants to help people leave that place where she feels she was stuck.

“I feel like my journey has given me the empathy to help others in that situation,” Walsh said. “In a sense, it’s like going back into a [building on] fire and bringing [others] out with you.”


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Rachel Walsh and her kids


Rachel Walsh (center) and her two children