What do you do when tragedy strikes? How do you respond when someone you love battles with a matter you have no idea how to solve? You consult with spiritual leaders, health care professionals, trusted consultants, and still there appears to be more questions than answers. And what happens when it seems the bottom falls out from your life. To whom do you turn? As the guest on this edition of Crosstalk knows, despite the trials, the challenges, and the heartaches, God is Always, Only Good.
Shelly Hamilton has been a vital part in the ministry of her husband—Ron Hamilton, whose alias is Patch the Pirate. In 1978, she chose, along with her husband, to “rejoice in the Lord” through the loss of his eye to cancer. The tragedy they walked through was transformed into a lifelong blessing of music and ministry to children, families, churches, and schools around the globe.
Shelly continues to trust in God following the tragic death of their son Jonathan and the many trials they subsequently faced as a family, now including Ron’s early-onset dementia that has so changed their lives. For decades, Shelly has served as administrative producer of the Majesty Music products including the Patch the Pirate Adventure Series, two hymnals—Majesty and Rejoice Hymns, and numerous other works. Ron served as a local church music minister for over two decades and Shelly served beside him as church pianist, special music coordinator, and administrative music librarian. She continues in faithful local church music ministry as a congregational pianist and accompanist. She is author of the book, Always, Only Good: A Journey of Faith Through Mental Illness.
After the death of their son Jonathan (May 12, 2013), it was very difficult for Shelly to relive the mental illness that Jonathan dealt with for 15 years. It was at the age of 18 that he began taking an antibiotic for acne which triggered clinical depression. Eventually he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Through this period Shelly was burdened for those who would contact her and say that they went through the same situation with their child, spouse, parents or someone they loved or knew. So the year after Jonathan died she began writing the first chapter. Then in March of 2020, when they were in COVID lock-down, she was determined to finish the book. This was in spite of the tear stains on her computer from having to recall past events.
Overall, her motivation was her deep love for Jonathan, what he went through, and that hope runs deeper than despair, even through difficult circumstances. She also cited a desire to remove the stigma of mental illness by letting the outsider in, how to come alongside, encouraging onlookers to be more supportive, encouraging those with mental illness to keep taking their medications, bring them hope, as well as offering hope to those who are caregivers.