Both my babes are sound asleep in bed, the laundry is finished, the kitchen is clean, and I'm supposed to be working.
Last night was Husband's first shift back at work, since the beginning of his paternity leave six months ago. Since before June 4th.
I've had these words taking up so much space inside my heart for months, but am so hesitant to include this kind of post on my blog…a blog that is usually reserved exclusively for my photo sessions and weddings; a place for my clients to view my most recent work. But since I've had so, SO many people ask (with genuine interest) "How are you feeling?" in regards to J's returning to work, maybe publicly is the best place to share exactly how I'm feeling.
I'm not someone who typically feels the "correct" emotions in certain circumstances. Usually any fear or sadness I'm feeling is covered with a joke or silly comment, and the times when I DO cry, it's over something COMPLETELY ridiculous…like Tim Hortons commercials at Christmas, the movie, "Father of The Bride", and every single country song ever written. I'm not good at having "real, serious moments". So when Jamie began his career seven years ago, and people started asking me if I worry about him 24/7; if I was even able to sleep at night; if I'm terrified every time he gears up…I started thinking maybe I wasn't aware of the full dangers of his job, because I wasn't in a constant state of worry and anxiousness.
When we arrived at our first post almost seven years ago, he left for his first shift, a night shift, and my prayer while falling asleep was simple. "Keep him safe."
Exactly 24 hours later, I realized that prayer wasn't enough. It didn't come close to cover all that I hoped would be true in my husband's life, and career. So my prayer changed. I wrote down, and began praying, a three-point prayer.
1) Keep him true to himself, his values, and his integrity.
2) Grant him wisdom in every situation.
3) Bring him home to me.
Physical safety is now third. Which feels sort of wrong…but knowing the kind of man I married, I know that he wouldn't want to be safe, if it meant turning his back on his integrity. I know that along with the commitment to serve and protect, comes the dedication to preserve the values and integrity behind the uniform itself.
So that was before. And people who knew me knew I wasn't a worrier. When the phone would ring, my mind never went to "that place". Somehow, although I worry constantly about basically every insignificant detail of life, and although I've long-since declared myself to have some undiagnosed form of anxiety disorder when it comes to unimportant matters, I can very honestly say I never really worried about J's safety at work. I worried about the things he sees, and how he mentally processes some of the more intense calls, but never his physical safety. Our first two posts were very small communities where I knew everyone he worked with personally: maybe this helped. I always felt very secure in knowing exactly who was there beside him.
And then it was June 4th. Which I'm not really going to discuss. Because it's simply too big. And because the sadness that I was experiencing that day and in the days that followed is completely insignificant when you consider the depths of grief others were going through.
So how do I feel.
To say that June 4th did nothing to change my feelings about J's work would be a lie, but maybe not in the way I expected it would. I'm not more worried when I see him walk out the door. But I am lots of other things, that I wasn't before.
I'm angry. That one small, sick person could hurt such a large, strong, good group of people so badly. I'm angry that someone could be filled with so much hate, and direct it at a person simply because of the career path they've chosen; because of the uniform they put on to go to work each day to provide for their family. I'm angry that this happened, and angry that this beautiful, welcoming city now has this black mark of grief and pain attached to it.
I'm proud. I'm so, so proud of my husband. A few days after June 4th, one woman gave me a hug and said, "I could never be married to a police officer!"
I'm sure she meant well, and she just didn't know what else to say. But that was like a glass of cold water in my face. I could never, and would never choose a different job for my husband. I believe with all my heart that this is the job he's called to. His organization does so much good. I didn't respond, because all I could think was, "Who wouldn't want to be married to a police officer?!" My husband's job makes me feel more safe, more secure, than I would ever feel otherwise.
I'm so proud of his job. I'm so proud of this city, of this country. I'm proud of what this province and nation and so many wonderful organizations have done, and continue to do, for the fallen members' families. The families. I was so intensely proud of these wives, these parents, these children, who were so very brave and strong…standing with more grace and courage than I could've imagined, even when facing a path I pray I never have to walk.
I'm overwhelmed when I think of all the bad in this huge world. I'm petrified when I think that this is the world my babies are growing up in. I'm completely beside myself with anxiety when I consider all the hurt and pain that will, inevitably, find my family.
I'm a lot of things. But what I'm not, is shocked. I literally could not count how many people said those words to me: "You must just be in complete shock".
But no, I was not. Am not. It is not shocking to me that such evil is possible. It is not shocking that such good men would be targeted by such hate.
It is not shocking to me that evil would despise, and seek to destroy, what is good.
How do I feel.
It's too much. Too much of a loaded question. Because what I feel is not greater than what I believe.
I feel like this world, this whole planet, is falling apart at the seams. I feel like there is more corruption, and evil, and hate on the earth than anything else, and I feel as though I want to take my babies and my husband and lock the doors and never come out, for fear of all that can hurt us.
But what I believe, is this.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 (NIV)
I don't think Jesus was talking about First World problems. I don't think the trouble we are meant to have peace about is that flat tire, or our co-worker being promoted over us, or getting a crack on our iPhone.
The trouble is death. The trouble is sickness, and pain, and persecution, and war, and famine. We live in a world where people are tortured for their religious views. Where children are kidnapped and murdered. Where men and women who've dedicated their lives to protecting their communities are shot and killed by the very people they've sworn to serve and protect. We were not made for this world…but when I think about what I feel…all I can see is the trouble.
But there is peace in Jesus.
How do I feel.
It doesn't matter. What matters is what I believe; what I know to be true:
God is good, and He is love, and knowing Him is knowing peace. And this is enough for me.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. -John 10:10