“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7 NIV).
I had such a bubbling in my spirit that day; joy and anticipation were simmering deep inside me. “God, I’m ready for whatever You have next,” I said confidently. I didn’t know what the next day held, but I knew it would be life-changing, and I felt it had to do with my marriage.
My husband, Dave, and I were in a tough season. We loved each other deeply, but something dark had entered our lives. He was being tormented mentally, and new, destructive behaviors were emerging.
Being the fighter that he was, Dave kept pushing through the pain. He put on a smile and met the world head-on. Only a very few of our closest friends and family knew the depths of our struggle.
I met Dave Mirra in my sophomore year at East Carolina University. He had moved to Greenville, NC, to be closer to his brother and ride BMX at a local park. Dave was a legend in the sport. I was clueless about who he was and what he did when we met.
Until then, I hadn’t been a fan or a follower, but I was intrigued. Dave’s smile and kind, down-to-earth nature quickly won my heart, and a year and a half later, we were married.
Life in Dave’s world was different from anything I’d ever experienced. It was packed, fast-paced, and adventurous. Dave rode hard on his bike and in life, keeping me on my toes. Especially his unplanned, often late night or early morning “Hey, babe, let’s go to Syracuse” drives. Syracuse, New York, was home, and he liked to visit often. So off we’d go on another spontaneous adventure.
Living in a realm of constant activity and the public eye came with challenges, and like every couple, Dave and I experienced highs and lows. I often felt insecure and unsure of my role and worth. Sometimes I felt unworthy, which led to seeking approval from other people. By this time, we had two girls, and the enemy loved to convince me that being a wife and mother was insufficient. This internal struggle lasted for years and often caused conflict in our relationship.
A few years into our marriage, I realized that unless Jesus became the center of our relationship, we wouldn’t survive. This longing only intensified as our girls grew. I wanted to raise them in a Christian home as I had been. I knew firsthand how the Lord helped my family through difficulties.
Like many young people, however, I’d strayed from my faith roots in college, and Dave hadn’t seen that side of me, so to him, my desire to follow the Lord seemed sudden. Learning to trust God was a journey we both had to set out on.
I began to push Dave to be a spiritual leader in our home. My intentions were great, but they came with controlling and manipulative actions. In His wisdom, God sent me some godly friends to help me find balance and encourage me to back off and trust the Lord to work in Dave’s life. I tried, but keeping my hands and mouth off the situation wasn’t easy. God seemed to be taking too long to get my husband on board; surely He needed my help.
The Lord gently reminded me to focus on my relationship with Him, not Dave’s.
Eventually, I learned to trust His process, order, and timing, understanding that God doesn’t shove people into a relationship with Himself; He draws them (John 6:44). And that’s what He did with us both, just in different ways.
Many people don’t know this, but it was Dave who led our family to church. One day, browsing a local magazine, we came across information for a church and agreed to give it a go. Eventually, Dave led us to Open Door Church, where our family still attends.
Watching how the Lord faithfully sent people to answer Dave’s questions and soften his heart was humbling. God also used circumstances to reveal His love and draw Dave close. On many occasions, He saved Dave’s life from accidents, bike crashes, and life-threatening illnesses like bacterial meningitis.
I’ll never forget when I learned the despairing odds of Dave’s survival from that illness. God had other plans, though, and a few days later, Dave and I walked out of the hospital hand in hand with the sun shining brightly on us. We both knew God had undeniably rested His mercy and grace upon us.
God used this near-death experience to teach me about the power of prayer and the gift of Christian fellowship. Strangers got on their knees in prayer for us and served and supported us. We couldn’t believe the outpouring of undeserved kindness; their actions mirrored the heart of God.
As soon as possible after the meningitis scare, Dave returned to competing. He even expanded into rally racing, boxing, and triathlons. I continued to draw close to the Lord (James 4:8) and could sense Him speaking to me, both through His Word and through other people.
I remember a woman from church who spoke into my life. We prayed together, and through her words, I finally understood how my heavenly Father saw me. Understanding God’s heart toward me changed how I saw myself. As a beloved daughter of God, I no longer needed to prove my worth or fight for my role in my marriage. I began settling into the faithful arms of my heavenly Father.
God has used many people to speak into my life at crucial times. Their Holy Spirit-given words have always been timely and infused me with hope and encouragement. Such was the case on February 4, 2016, the day after my bubbling-joy experience.
That morning was a struggle. Still, I remembered God’s promises in His Word and those He had spoken to me through His Spirit. I fought on my knees in prayer and through the singing of worship music to regain the joy I’d had the day before. Through tears, I laid my frustrations and fears with and for Dave at God’s feet. Then, feeling some relief, I headed to church to fulfill my commitment to teach a Christian exercise class.
After the class, a friend who had noticed my heavy heart encouraged me, saying, “Lauren, God says to you, ‘Do not be afraid; it is I.’” I had no idea how important those words from Matthew 14:27 would become hours later.
That afternoon, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. I’d been unable to reach Dave on the phone, and I was growing more anxious by the moment. Sheer panic rose in my stomach. Finally, around 4:00 p.m., I reached a friend who confirmed that something was, indeed, very wrong.
My husband of ten years had just taken his own life.
“Oh, God,” I cried. “Please help me. Help my girls!” The idea of life without Dave flashed before me, and I wondered how we would survive. How would I navigate being a single mother? How could my girls go on without their dad?
My friend’s words from that morning echoed in my heart. I heard them again—this time from the Lord: Do not be afraid, My daughter. I am right here. And then, inexplicably except through faith, that peace that passes all understanding rose in my spirit; it guarded my heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). Those around me couldn’t help but notice the tangible presence of that heavenly peace.
God, who knows all things, had been preparing me for this dark day for months, even years, by depositing His supernatural joy into my heart through His Spirit and Word. The joy of the Lord was my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). God’s presence and the faithful love of family and friends kept me from drowning in my sorrow (Isaiah 43:2).
It’s hard to understand why things ended the way they did. The reality is we will never know, this side of heaven. That’s why Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
God has made my path straight as I’ve continued to trust Him. I don’t have many answers, but I have learned one contributing factor through an autopsy of Dave’s brain. He had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease caused by multiple concussions. Dave’s undiagnosed CTE had triggered the mental turmoil he’d been experiencing.
Suicide is complicated for the faith community to reconcile, but God has graciously comforted me and let me know that Dave wasn’t alone that day in his truck. God did not abandon him. He’s also promised me that Dave’s life was not in vain. I saw this immediately at his funeral when 30 people came to faith in Jesus.
Today, I believe that Dave is whole and in the presence of his heavenly Father. I know that because Dave had put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. That’s all I need to know—I will let the Lord sort out the rest; His thoughts and ways are unlike mine (Isaiah 55:8–9).
It’s been eight years since that fateful day; our family and friends still grieve Dave’s presence. Yet God has been faithful. He has carried my girls and me with His loving-kindness. And through our journey, I’ve come to know the Lord intimately as a father, friend, healer, provider, restorer, and protector.
The Lord helped me navigate all the legal formalities related to the businesses Dave owned and kept the process from burdening me (Matthew 11:28–29). He helped me sell our home and provided a new, nurturing place to live. Then, He sent me a companion. Now, that was unexpected!
Andy was a friend of Dave’s and had always been such a support in his endeavors. I look back at photos now and see that Andy was there at many significant moments of our family’s life, silently supporting us. How God positioned Andy to be there for us is beautiful in many ways.
We were married in 2018; the girls were 11 and 12. I thank God for Andy daily. He stepped close when we needed him and helped us navigate our grief even while navigating his own.
God has been so good to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience challenges—I do, daily. I just keep clinging to God’s words: Do not be afraid, My daughter. It’s Me. I am here.
He says those words to you too. God is with you and wants to help. Call out to Him: “Lord Jesus, give me Your joy and peace. Be my source of strength. My heart hurts; it’s broken, crushed, and beaten down. I need the comfort of Your presence and the strength of Your joy. Come into my life; I surrender it to You. Make me whole. Give me the wisdom to move forward through these dark times. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
You know, many people wait until they’re in a crisis before they cry out to God. I encourage you to seek God before you’re in a trial. Doing so will build a reservoir of faith that will sustain you and keep you from going under when trouble comes your way.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:24–25, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (NIV).
Friend, the rains will come, and the floods will rise. But if you build your life on the unshakeable foundation of God, you will not be shaken. His love and truth will never fail you.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
LAUREN EVERETT helps others experience God’s tangible peace and love through serving at her local church and overseeing Victorious Living’s prison correspondence outreach.