Through a 10-year ordeal with her son, Monique Davis of Rochester, a teacher in Springfield public schools, relied on her faith for strength and guidance. She has written about the journey in a memoir, Be Still and Know: A Mother's Story of Faith, Heartbreak, and Miracles, published in 2021 through Amazon.
Her son, Alex, had been a model student, active in school and in church. But in 2010, after his best friend committed suicide, Alex, who was 15, felt guilt, and spiraled into a life of drugs, often running away from home, and spewing hate to the family.
Davis tells in detail what she calls an "excruciating journey" and is open about the many sleepless nights of worrying about her son, checking his room to see if he had come home, and praying. She writes, "As someone who has lived through more than most could bear, I have found great comfort in knowing that God is in control.... In the unexplainable experiences that make no sense to me, I have clung to this truth. God has a plan." Davis accepted that she didn't need to understand but needed to keep her faith. "I am a thread," she writes, "and God is creating a beautiful tapestry. I can only see the backside of the tapestry and it is an ugly mess. But, in the end, when God turns it over, it will be an artistic masterpiece."
Beautiful passages such as this fill the book. Davis has a command of language. She is a teacher of English and speech at Lanphier and Springfield high schools.
Davis shares many heart-rending episodes, like the time she and her husband decided to lock Alex out of the house and stuck to the plan, even though it was cold outside, and Alex pleaded to be let in. Or the time Alex was arrested, or the day they put him in a facility, unable to see him for weeks. Often, it is hard to keep reading, as Davis conveys the pain the entire family experienced.
The constant strength Davis maintains is remarkable. When others under such painful circumstances might give up on their faith, Davis becomes more drawn to the Bible and its teachings. Those who know Davis will comment that she was always upbeat with a smile on her face. Some never knew she was going through such pain. Davis says, "Inside everything was a complete storm, but when I gave trust to God, I found a stillness." The title of the memoir comes from Psalms 46:10 – "Be still, and know that I am God!"
She wants to convey several messages in her memoir. She says, "I want people to know that even when experiencing earth-shattering things God is good; that is how I survived." Another message is the impact of mental illness. Although she does not write at length about her younger son, she has dealt with his issues also, as he was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. Davis says, "We must acknowledge that we can't be ashamed of having a mental illness."
The cover art shows a woman, cowering face down on the ground, holding her hand on her head as if for protection from a swirling mass around her. People who know Davis think the cover is a picture of her, but it is not. The story of the artwork adds to the book's message of faith and trust. It was at church one day that Diane Schleyhahn created an artwork as the minister delivered the sermon. Davis writes, "Diane's art rocked my world. She had drawn a human at the bottom of the canvas who was in defeat, with evil spirits looking down, and above it all was the heavenly host. I contacted her; she knew my story and drew the picture. She told me the image just came to her. We had never even met, and Diane came up with the image that does look like me."
The book's subtitle mentions miracles. That is because today, Davis is thankful for the miracle that has saved Alex, who is now 26. "I decided to write about this journey; I didn't go through it to keep it quiet because it is too miraculous." Alex is now a youth pastor in Atlanta, Georgia, and a staff member of Surge School of Transformation, a new ministry school also in Atlanta.
Her book is a compelling story, even for those who aren't religious, and provides hope for others who may be confronting pain and hardships.
Cinda Ackerman Klickna of Rochester has known and admired Monique for many years and was one who did not know the pain Monique was experiencing until she read the memoir.