Where Change Starts

The tension in this country is heartbreaking. It took me time to formulate words instead of speaking purely from emotions-although I would never say that I am completely eloquent. I have gone back and forth for days as to whether I would even say anything after last week. Maybe it is just for me to process my thoughts, but I needed to say something to add to the narrative. So bear with me and my voice.

The first violent act I remember feeling in my gut was Columbine, and I was in 8th grade. I recall thinking as I watched the news, “How could an individual harbor that much hate?” There were times when I said I hated my brother, but really I was just upset he messed with me. I just could not comprehend hate at that massacre level. I still have this mentality as a grown woman. Honestly though, I have mostly watched these violent atrocities through a screen. I recognize that I have been privileged to not have to witness these evil things in my daily life.

My husband, my partner, my love, however, has seen the world very differently from my gumball view.

Watching Tom go into the Army and into Law Enforcement, I have always known there was a risk. I have acknowledged the danger. I have had times where I go the long way home and sob uncontrollably because I am so fearful there is a car waiting at my door to tell me the worst news possible. I have had moments where I lose my breath as I watch him put on all his gear and try to hide the tears welling up in my eyes. There are nights where I hardly sleep because I wait to hear his footsteps in the kitchen after a night shift before I can relax. I have talked on this very blog several times about those feelings.

But most days I try not to give the danger a fleeting thought. I try to push all the fear deep down because I have to seem normal. It’s not that I dismiss it because I do think about it daily. But I ignore the realities of the job because I don’t want to face those dire possibilities 24/7. I have to press forward so I don’t live in that paralyzing fear.

After last week I have this pit in my stomach though that I don’t think will go away for a very long time or if ever. Before I was able to let it go after a while. But when I hear stories like this, this, and this just days after 5 cops were killed in Dallas, as a police wife I just can’t…

Any one of those could be Tom.

This could be our family.

It was just a week ago that I was rolling my eyes at Tom as he debriefed our family of our “escape” plan as we went downtown for holiday festivities. You see, Tom gets threats of bodily harm several times a day and threats on his life a couple times a week from community members he interacts with. He has also been followed home on more than one occasion. He doesn’t wear his wedding ring at work as precaution for us. The debriefing has been a part of our outings for years. Tom walks me through what I need to do with George in the case of disaster and then says, “I will be home.” Up until now, I didn’t want to admit the severity of what he was saying to me. I thought he was being silly and wondered with lots of eye rolling and long sighs why he couldn’t just relax and enjoy our family time.

But with all the stories of cops getting shot (the number of police officer killed by guns has gone up already 75% in comparison to this time last year) and with law enforcement families being targeted at home, I have to listen to Tom being protective. I didn’t see it before, but now I have to. We all have fears with the situations out there. Tom dying is the one closest to my heart. I am not going to apologize for that.

It is heartbreaking to think that I need to take these plans seriously, or that other families are having conversations on how to stay alive during a traffic stop. These are not normal conversations we should be having.

None of this is ok.

So what do we do as a human race?

Personally, I don’t think there is a simple solution, nor do I think that it falls on solely one person. However it has to start somewhere, and I can only control how I react in this world. I am going to choose to armor myself with love. To love my family, to love my friends, to love those who walk in my office, to just love. The root of change needs to be love. Love is big, and it can ripple. I believe each one of us has a responsibility to each other, and we can’t wait for others to show that love first. We all need to step up in our circles.

I have sat quietly this past week moving through my day thinking and hoping we can just move past this.

But we all can’t be quiet. Hate and discontent will only divide us further. This is so much bigger than picking a side. Unity doesn’t mean that we have to agree. It means that we need to give each other grace and lean in and listen to each other’s perspective. We have to put in the time to show up. We have to create relationships to have understanding.

I see my husband going out there every single day to make this world a better place. He is trying to be one of the ones to make positive change. He sees you. He knows that you matter. That’s why he chose this job to serve and protect. He believes in the community values, and does everything he can to make sure people are safe. He wants you to go home just as much as he wants to get home.

When Tom and I were processing these events, I asked him how he was feeling. He said, “It is just another day that I get to do my job. I am going to keep going out there doing what I promised this community I would do…I am going to be kind to everyone I meet.”

For me, my platform is not so grandiose. I keep my community small (introvert problems). However, I see my greatest charge in all of this is how we raise George. I believe the greatest change I can give to the world is what I teach him. I worry every day about what he knows and how he will learn things. I see the innocence, and want to shield him from the evil as long as I can. I know there is going to come a day when I have to talk with George about bullies and sharing and being kind. I pray every day that God gives me the wisdom to lead him on the right path of compassion and caring for others. I hope that we are able to instill in him a curiosity for understanding others stories even if they are not like his. I hope that we raise him to make conscious decisions and understand that with everything there are consequences. I hope that we are models of being respectful citizens and how to give back to those around you. For me the hope lies within George, and I can see that there is a better future through him.

Easier said than done, but if we all take this approach of reaching out in our circles I believe there is so much hope.

 We all have a chance to better this world. We need to be aware of our actions, our words, and be willing to listen to each other’s stories. What decisions are we going to make today that are going to help us move forward? The change has to happen on an individual level to push a change on a global level. We have to continue to carry the cross.

We need to be the light in this dark world.

See those around you. Make people feel like they matter.

Love is still going.

Another blogger wrote this, and I don’t think it could be said any better. “Jesus give me eyes to see people as you do, give me a heart to love them as you do, give me courage to speak and act boldly as you did and give me wisdom to teach my children the same.”

While we may be broken, we can still have hope. I hope for your family, and I hope for mine. I hope for our world.

Love can heal what hurt divides. Mercy’s waiting on the other side.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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