This is awkward.
For a year now, I’ve been writing—journaling, processing, and rambling. I’ve been writing about my journey into facing loss, and now I’m about to share it publicly.
So why is that so awkward? Because in an ironic twist I’m stepping into Kim’s arena of expertise. She was the gifted writer; I was her loyal admirer.
However, I am stepping into this new realm of writing for several reasons:
- I was compelled to write to process my loss personally. My son-in-law, Michael, and daughter, Emily, gave me a journal the week Kim died. I have journaled to heal. I have rambled to pour out my heart’s pain. I’ve pressed into the truth of the gospel. I read a lot of books about grief. However, now in writing, I put my own flesh on grief.
- Trusted counselors encouraged me to capture my insights and lessons learned. My writing—originally for my own healing—is a collision of journaling, rambling, insights, experiences, and lessons that poured forth into and from me as I walked this difficult journey.
- I met a counselor at a work event who asked to see my ramblings. After he read a few entries, he said I should share them and not worry about polishing the content. Sooner rather than later. Get it out there. My experience, in its painful raw form in the context of hope, could help others.
- I don’t want to waste my journey of loss. It’s been too high a price to pay to waste the lessons and keep them to myself. I want to encourage others to face loss and not to be tempted to sidestep, diminish, or minimize their loss. I need to comfort others with the comfort with which I’ve been comforted (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
- We overcome by the word of our testimony according to Revelation 12:11. A testimony is a bright spot in a dark world. A testimony is a picture of the gospel in a person’s life. A testimony delivers ancient truths in a contemporary life. I share my testimony of facing loss to testify to God’s goodness through the eternal gospel of Jesus in my temporal, singular experience.
- I value openness—transparency. We, in the church, don’t talk a lot about grief. I want to share my journey to prepare others for what inevitably will come to every person. Loss is universal, multifaceted, and pervasive. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to what happens to us. So, let’s talk about it openly. I choose to steward my experience (1 Corinthians 4:2).
- While Peter referred to those times when we suffer for the sake of righteousness, his admonition to be prepared to give an answer is valid for me during grief, as well. As my son, Paul, stated after reading some of my entries, “We wondered what was going on inside your mind. It’s good to know how you were really doing.” Sometimes, things go without saying, but I decided this is not one of those times. I need to share about the hope in me while facing loss (1 Peter 2:15).
- I also want to shine a light on the answer to the question, “Is Jesus enough, even during loss?” I want to communicate the rich nature of such a journey in the very real and relentless pain.
- Lastly, I realized I could not honor Kim P. Davis, the writer, in any better manner than to take up a pen and write about what her life—and now her absence—has taught me. My children—Paul (and Brennan), Emily (and Michael), and Trevor (and Emily)—have encouraged me to honor her in this manner.
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.” Isaiah 50:4
And with that introduction, I welcome you to walk with me on my unwanted journey, Facing Loss. It’s a journey filled with lessons of pain and loss coupled with faith and hope. I aspire to answer the question, “What does it look like to face loss, mourn well, and stand on the hope of the gospel.” At least in one life.
Mark Vroegop, in Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, explains that, “Lament is the honest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of God’s goodness.” I want to face loss and press into the promise of God’s goodness. Lament leads us to God and not away from him.
“Sorrow is a school, and we meet it as we should only when we learn the lessons and go out fitted for being a richer blessing in the world.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
A South African proverb states, “Some hardships teach.” Indeed. God has taken me into an intense schoolhouse this past year. As I approach and pass the first anniversary of Kim’s death, I desire to steward the journey that has been entrusted to me. I desire to pass these lessons on for others who may be weary from the pain of loss.
“…if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…” Colossians 1:23
“We don’t have to like the process of being ‘schooled,’ but if we want to be joyful, it’s essential that we keep ourselves open to what God has to teach us.” Boyd Bailey, The Spiritual Life of a Leader
“Thou hast taught me to say, it is well…” Horatio G. Spafford, “It Is Well With My Soul”