Jennifer: I’ve walked through several dark situations in the past couple of years, so your book A Walk Through the Dark was definitely helpful to me. Who did you imagine reading it when you wrote it? Why did you decide to write your story?
Eva Piper: My original audience was for those who found themselves in a caretaking role. I wanted to offer hope and encouragement. No one can really understand what it’s like to be a caregiver until you walk in those shoes. I think it will also give insight into how to minister to caregivers. People want to help but are not sure how. My book will give them some practical ideas to minister to someone in need. As the book took shape I realized everyone needs to be prepared for those dark times. Jesus told us the world is full of trouble. We never know when a tragedy or crisis may occur and we need to be prepared. I believe my book can be of help to everyone looking for ways to be ready for those trials of life.
It took several years for me to come to the point of sharing my story. While Don always calls me the hero of the story I never felt heroic. In my opinion I did what needed to be done, with God by my side. But after years of hearing people ask me “How did you do it?” and “When are you going to write a book?” I decided it was a story people not only wanted but needed to hear. I often tell people “I don’t have all the answers but if what I learned can help someone I’m happy to share.” My prayer for A Walk Through the Dark has always been that God would use it to minister to those who need encouragement for dark times as well as provide ideas to be prepared for troublesome times.
Jennifer: You’re in a different place now, but was revisiting that time as you wrote your story difficult for you? Did it bring up more pain or praise?
Eva Piper: It was much harder than I expected. I had put many of those painful memories away in the back of my mind. My co-writer, Cec Murphey, would ask penetrating questions and wouldn’t let me get off with surface answers. To honestly tell what happened I had to dig out painful memories and examine them. I relived the pain of having to tell our children their dad had been in a wreck, of seeing Don when they brought him into the hospital, of sitting beside him as he lay motionless on a hospital gurney. Writing made me refocus on how inadequate I felt in trying to make the right decisions for Don. There were times when I would finish a chapter about Don’s lack of response during his recovery and I’d find myself snapping at him for no reason. I was reliving my frustration with him from the days in the hospital. Thankfully, being a writer himself, he understood my up and down emotions and was very supportive.
BUT for every pain there was also praise. Writing allowed me to go back over how much our family and friends did for us during that dark time. They were such a blessing then. I was also able to see how the lessons I learned during Don’s recovery had deepened my faith. My deeper faith gave me strength as we faced other dark times, the death of my sister-in-law and my mother. I was able to see in black and white how God had used Don’s wreck in 1989 for His glory. Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Jennifer: You called journaling your “private therapy.” Do you still journal regularly? How would you encourage people to use this technique if they are walking through a dark period?
Eva Piper: I don’t journal on a regular basis unless I’m feeling very overwhelmed and stressed. Then I return to my journaling, especially if I’m trying to make a major decision. It always helps me to write the pros and cons on a piece of paper. I also still keep a verse journal during difficult times such as when my mom was hospitalized with a stroke.
For those just beginning to journal during a hard time I suggest you begin with just writing down basic facts….dates of tests, surgeries, doctor’s visits, ect. This is helpful in two ways. First it gives you a place to go back to when decisions have to be made. I found that in the hospital, often there are many doctors seeing one patient. If you have written down what Doctor A says, then when Doctor B comes in you can share what was previously discussed. This saves times and helps prevent miscommunication. Second, it is easier to start with facts. For people not used to journaling writing about their feelings may seem awkward and uncomfortable. They are not as likely to continue the practice. In writing facts you can begin to throw in a sentence or two about what you think. In time writing about your feelings becomes more natural.
I also strongly encourage keeping a verse journal. The act of physically writing (or typing into a computer) cements the verse in your head. It also gives you something to go back and read again and again. This was one of my favorite pastimes. I always felt refreshed and calmed when I would revisit God’s truths and promises.
Jennifer: Check out my review of Eva Piper’s A Walk Through the Dark.