"to nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead"
In Memory of
Joshua Kyle Lovett
"In his passing, I hope and pray that just one life could be changed for the better. I hope in this terrible tragedy, someone finds and gets the help they truly deserve. God bless my beautiful husband, and ALL his brothers and sisters that have and are serving."
"Think of the LOSS Team as a lighthouse. Lighthouses do not exist to draw ships to themselves, but rather to point the way to safe harbor."
LOSS Team is a program of Armed Forces Mission to serve the needs of our community and specifically the families of those who experience loss.
Your support helps make possible the LOSS Team to provide chaplain services and other support for local veteran families in time of loss.
Memorial Service of Joshua Kyle Lovett
Fayetteville, Georgia ~ January 17, 2016
Delivered by Chaplain Kenneth Koon
Lauren, Cheryl, Barry, Zach, friends and extended family let’s go ahead and state the obvious. Today is a very difficult day for everyone in this room. It really is beyond words to describe. We come here today with many emotions -many conflicting emotions. Hope and hopelessness - fond memories and overwhelming grief - questions without answers. Perhaps even anger. Anger with our selves, anger with Kyle, and no doubt there are some here today who are angry with God. All the above is normal and to be expected in times like today. As I often tell Soldiers, “These are the normal responses to abnormal circumstances.”
This is not the way it was supposed to be…the way we hoped it would be. Kyle should be with us today. He should be by Lauren’s side in May when his precious little girl is born and on his birthday May 3rd. He should be with us on the holidays and the vacations. He should be going to work tomorrow. Today goes beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
Kyle graduated from Fayette County High School in 2003 and completed the Youth Challenge Course at Ft Stewart where he learned the Values of Honesty, Dedication, Excellence, Service to Community, Responsible Citizenship, and Wellness; and because of that he faithfully served his country as a member of the US ARMY from 2005 to 2009 and there was a part of him that wanted to continue serving.
He sought to do that in the way he helped others. He had an infectious laughter that made others laugh and an incredible sense of humor. He had a certain way of smiling at those he loved. As Cheryl said, “He was a sweet loving son who had a strong desire to better himself.” Kyle Lovett wanted to do what was right, but he never took credit for the good things he did. He never felt worthy and he never wanted to disappoint others.
I never had the honor of knowing Kyle, yet over the past few days I have had the opportunity to learn who he was. Hearing the stories and learning about his experiences helps give me a picture of the man, Joshua Kyle Lovett, but it also helps me catch just a glimpse of possibly some of the reason why it is we are here today.
When Kyle deployed his journey into darkness began. As Barry said, “He came back a man, but a different person.” He wasn’t the same. War has a way of doing that to a person. It was also along that time that he lost his brother Dustin and somehow Kyle took on a responsibility for Dustin’s death that was not his to take. The cumulative effect of traumatic stress wore at his heart and mind for several years up until a few days ago. Some of the times when he was most like the old Kyle were when he had Brody his service dog by his side. In those times Kyle was like a kid again smiling, laughing and loving life. Yet the pain was always there.
It has been said that “suffering reveals what is in our hearts and takes the one who suffers to the edge of eternity”. I have worked with 25,000 soldiers over the past 5 years and have conducted more than 200 suicide interventions. In that time I have come to believe that suffering has a way of heightening one’s mental acuity to levels that others who have never experienced such suffering cannot fully comprehend. In suffering one becomes more aware not only that things are not right within oneself, but perhaps even more those things that are not right in the world. And this is what suffering revealed about Kyle’s heart. In other words, Kyle Lovett had a good heart. He wanted things to be better than they are, for him and for others.
While the majority of us were living life in our little bubble, Kyle was seeing and doing things that most young men will never see or be called upon to do. He was keenly aware of many of the absurdities of life. Kyle had an awareness of the world and of the suffering and pain of others that was overwhelming. Folks listen, it’s little wonder that he often found relief in alcohol as so many people do. The awareness that things are not as they should be is a heavy burden to carry, especially for a man who wants what is good.
Kyle is not alone in that desire. I am reminded of the words of poet Eve Merriam who penned "I dream of giving birth to a child who will one day ask, 'Mother, what was war?'" How many of us have ever wondered why there is so much pain in the world? How many of us ever questioned God? I know I have. I know Job did in the Old Testament. It was a question that Kyle had too. There were times that Kyle did question the very existence of God. If there is a God how can there be so much suffering in the world? As Barry said, “Kyle put on a façade that he didn’t need God. Because of the pain, he felt great distance from God.”
But I also learned that in those times when his inhibitions were lowered by alcohol that he would talk, and as some of us know all too well, in such times we more freely talk about what is really on our hearts and minds. In those times Kyle would talk about God. God was on his heart and mind. Now I will say this, I am not advocating that you bring a keg of beer to your next Bible study, but when the façade is moved out of the way, for every man, the one fundamental question is the existence of God. When Moses was filled with questions,doubts and fears, God himself placed him the cleft of the mountain and told Moses "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.” My friends, that rock is Jesus Christ. And the one who longs to know God and find hope, ultimately comes face to face with this eternal Rock of Ages.
So if God is the fundamental question, then as Philosopher Albert Camus said, “There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide; deciding whether or not life is worth living.” No doubt many of us here today have at some point in our lives had the same thought -Is life worth living? The apostle Paul had a similar thought when he said “I would much rather go on and be with the Lord but for your sake I remain.”
So the question on our hearts today: Why did Kyle make the choice he made on Wednesday afternoon? Why will some 40,000 others make the same choice this year across the nation? Friends, I can’t give you that answer. But I would say this, that if Kyle could somehow talk to us today from across that great divide, I believe with all my heart that he would tell you that he is sorry. It was not his intention to disappoint you. Lauren, Barry, Cheryl, Zack I believe that he would tell you that he loves you.
Cheryl, you and I discussed it the other day and I know that many of you here are aware of the chatter on social media in our community; some of it very negative and hurtful. My encouragement to you and every one of us here today - don’t let ignorance rue the day with further pain. This gathering, each and every one of you can be catalysts for change in our community to help others better understand depression, and the impact of traumatic stress and all of the subsequent fallout that goes along with it. In his dying may we be the catalysts for Kyle’s dream of a better day becoming a reality in our community and even in the world – a reality where people are more loving and understanding. By our love and compassion and the grace of God may we lessen the suffering of others.
In this time of crisis and loss, may we find one another; and realize that we have the freedom to choose life. May the pain that we feel today give us awareness of others who are hurting and in danger, and may we have the boldness and courage to intervene on their behalf. May Kyle’s suffering be an opportunity for us to trust once again in a God who loves us and knows that we all see through a glass dimly, we all have questions; but that one day we will see clearly; and we will know even as we are fully known.
As we go from this place today may we do so with a vision to make Kyle’s dream come true of a loving and even less absurd world. Ignorance will not rue the day. Choose rather to focus on the best of the human spirit and the grace of God and his peace that passes all understanding. . Even over the past three days I have seen the grace of God and the goodness of the human spirit. I have seen it in a compassionate Police Chief, detectives, and other first responders. I have seen it in a pastor reaching out wanting to know what he can do. I have seen in the response of nearly 1000 community members in social media responding with understanding, love and prayers and I have seen it in the response of many community members calling wanting to take part in the annual I Will Intervene Challenge here in Fayette County to learn the skills that are saving lives and building stronger community. To all of these things I say praise be to God. Kyle’s dream of a better day is coming and his memory lives on.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. AMEN