I don’t think Phillip and I have ever had a more intense and stressful week and a half. I think I have walked through every emotion known to man over the past few days…and walked through them multiple times. It has been heavy.
Both Phillip and I are exhausted.
One of the things that has made it all so heavy is the dichotomy of emotions that I have held throughout this whole week. I’m holding grief and joy. I’m holding fear and peace. I’m holding anger and love. I’m holding anxiety and trust. I am holding guilt and gratitude.
Yesterday, I went to a police spouse grief session. I went curious. I wondered if it would be any different than me just sitting down with a friend and sharing my perspective on the events of last week. I also went a bit skeptical. Would it actually help?
It ended up being just me with 3 facilitators. Yikes.
I sat down, readying my heart to keep my tears inside since I had spent the week crying, but as I listened to them share about who they were and then I started to share my story and heart, the walls came down and the tears flowed, because for the first time since Phillip had started his law enforcement career, I was having a conversation with someone who knew.
They got it.
And for the first time, I felt like the Thin Blue Line included me.
For me, being the spouse of a law enforcement officer has been a quieter thing. I don’t often publicize that he is a police officer, because although I am extremely proud of him, unfortunately people have opinions about it, especially over the past few years. And although the vast majority of people are supportive of police, there is an extremely loud minority who are not. So again, I have stayed quiet, not wanting to draw attention to something that may bring Phillip or our family harm.
But with this tragedy, Phillip, as well as our family, couldn’t help but be in the public eye about his law enforcement career.
So yesterday, as I sat down, wondering how it would go, I felt something new. They acknowledged and validated the role of support that the spouse plays. And they also validated the fact that as a spouse, we often put our emotions to the side so that we can support our officers, as well as continuing to keep the home fires burning.
I felt affirmed.
It was an affirmation that I did not know I needed until it was given.
And I am so grateful.
Over the last few days, there has been a new glow in our neighborhood at night. It is the glow of blue. The homes surrounding our home, and I am sure throughout all neighborhoods in our community, are displaying a blue light in honor of the fallen officers and in support of law enforcement officers. It may not seem like a large gesture, but oh man, it is. You have no idea how much that means, so thank you to anyone who has done that. And thank you to all of those who have texted, called, brought meals, given flowers, sent cards, given extra hugs to my kids, taken them to the jump park so that we could rest, taken them for the night, and most importantly, thank you for every single prayer that has been said on behalf of us. We are forever grateful to you.
As I said last week, I know that more words will come. I may share them with you or they may stay in my journal, but for now, I ask that not only would you show support to all police officers and first responders, I also ask that you show support to their spouses and loved ones. We all need it.
I am proud and grateful to be the wife of a police officer.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3.
You are the God of the mountains and you are the God in our valleys. You are constant. You always remain the same. You are always good, always faithful, always in control and you are always love. And in the end…you win. And for that we thank you and worship you.
God help us to see your goodness where our eyes are blinded by our pain. Help us to see your love when our hearts are crushed by evil. And help us to seek forgiveness when we desperately want your justice.
We pray for the families and friends and communities who are suffering pain. Comfort those who are grieving. Bind together the community in grace and in faith.
We pray for the family and friends of Officer John Painter. We pray for his daughter Courtney. We pray for his parents, his brother and his sister, his grandchildren and the many other family members and friends he touched. We are thankful for his sacrifice. We are thankful for the work he did that thwarted evil plans.
We pray for the family and friends of Officer JJ Jefferson. We pray for his wife Shannon. We pray for his parents and his sister. We pray for his nephews and many other friends and family members he has left behind. We are thankful for his sacrifice. May these friends and family members find comfort and courage to face this pain in your loving presence.
We pray for the first responders and those in the community whose hearts and eyes bear the scars of seeing and hearing and feeling things that should have never been. We pray for peace over their minds that evil would have no residual effects. We pray for protection over their hearts that they would not become hardened to your love for them and for others.
We pray for the Bridgewater college community that in the midst of this tragedy you would reign on that campus. That in the midst of hurt you would bring hope and in the midst of suffering you would bring salvation. In the midst of darkness, you would be a light. We ask that you would be their comforter, that you would cover them with your grace and your mercy, surrounding them in peace during this dark time.
We pray for Chief Franklin and President Bushman and for leaders and law enforcement at Bridgewater college and in the community who are left to put the pieces of a campus back together. We pray for wisdom and guidance beyond their years and experience.
And Father at times it doesn’t make sense and can feel almost impossible but we pray also for the man responsible for this tragedy. May your justice and mercy lead him to repentance and into a relationship with you.
Where evil desires to limit our love, may we love all the more deeply.
When destruction tries to erode our faith, may we cling ever more tightly to you, our refuge and strong tower.
And where bitterness seeks to harden our hearts may we exercise all the more compassion.
May this be our response to violence. That we would trust You more deeply, love more beautifully, and be more committed to forgiveness than ever before.