HOW IS IT BEING MARRIED TO A COP???

I immediately knew my answer but had to think about how to put it into words for someone who can’t understand the life from my perspective.

Caourage quote large cropped centered blue border

HOW IS IT BEING MARRIED TO A COP??? Last week a man at church asked me how it was being married to a cop. He wondered how I was handling the thoughts of danger in life as a LEO wife, especially after the events that happened in the past year to make police officers not the most popular people. I immediately knew my answer but had to think about how to put it into words for someone who can’t understand the life from my perspective.

First, I thanked him for his concern and support of my husband. I admitted that it is becoming a different world for police and their families but then went on to explain something to him that brings me peace. When we lived up north and my husband worked in the small town we lived in, he would often be on the road by himself. One officer for the entire town of 1500 plus 1 or 2 deputies working for the County meant if he needed backup it could take a long time to get support. Now, living in Green Bay, he is, of course, never alone. Whether staffing is at minimum or there are a full number of officers on the road, I personally know that his backup is never that far away. In fact, I know that the specific group of people he works with have been together for years now and can tell by the slightest change in tone of voice over the radio just how fast they need to go to get there to back up my husband. Most times he doesn’t even have to specifically call for backup. They just keep an eye and ear out for each other and know what type of calls warrant extra support and which ones are likely to be able to be handled alone. He has told me how he has driven past other officers just to make sure everything is good and to be close by just in case things would go bad. Just knowing that this is how they operate makes me know that he is not in this alone and in turn I can be at home with my family knowing he has the best of the best watching out for him. They have gotten to know each other. They are brothers and sisters in blue and they are there for each other. I am able to go on with my day knowing that my husband is in good hands, and he is one of the good hands helping keep his LEO brothers and sisters safe. That is one of the reasons I can kiss him goodbye with peace in my heart. His job is dangerous, but when danger comes and the fight is on, he is not out there alone.

That is the answer I gave when talking to that man at church, but I want to also share that getting to that point in my life did not happen overnight just because we moved to a bigger department. It definitely took time…a lot of time. It wouldn’t have mattered where we lived when my husband began his job in law enforcement. It is a scary world we live in. There are still days that I fear for him and when I see things on the news like the happenings in Ferguson I do feel some fear in the pit of my stomach. We get a little bit more on edge and hug a little tighter before he walks out the door. I sigh a little bit deeper in relief when he walks through the door at night after a shift. But I am to the point in my life as a LEOW that I had to give up my fears to a higher source. The first several years of life as a law enforcement wife were some of the scariest I have ever lived and he wasn’t even on the road for all of those. Looking back I think part of it was that our kids were younger at the time and being home alone a lot with two young kids, especially at night, brought thoughts of fear and anxiousness at even the little things. Strange noises, having to go into the dark basement or outside all alone, voices of people outside that seemed closer than normal all brought on fears like they would for some other people. But I began to think about all of the things that “could happen”. What if I’m home alone and there’s a fire and I can’t get both kids out by myself? What if I fall and get hurt and nobody is around to find me and help me but the boys? What if I let him and one of the boys go somewhere and they get into a car accident and I’m left to live life alone? Somehow I thought that being with him could prevent the bad things from happening. Being a young mom and new to the law enforcement world brought on fears and I was letting those fears take hold and affect how I lived my life. I realized some of them were possibilities, like the getting out of a fire, so I ran scenarios through my head and tried to prepare myself as best I could. I did things to protect my family but it was those irrational fears that were getting to be too much. That’s when I started to pray for the Lord to just take them away. I couldn’t live in fear. I knew if I was going to make it as a LEOW I was going to have to get over those fears or they were going to make me go crazy!

I prayed and over time things slowly got easier. They boys got older, my husband showed me how to make safe choices that every LEO family should learn, but most of all I prayed. I prayed for peace. I prayed for my husband’s safety. I prayed for OUR safety. I prayed for wisdom. But most of all I prayed for God to calm my fears. I will never forget the night that I finally realized all of those years of praying had helped. I needed something out of the basement so I went down and found it and after returning to the main floor it hit me…I never thought twice about going downstairs, even late at night in the dark. The fear didn’t consume me any longer. My prayers had finally been answered. It had taken SEVEN long years, but my fears were finally gone. In those years I had learned many things to do to help keep our family safe, ways to prepare for emergencies like fires or tornadoes, and most especially not to worry about things that I never had control over anyway! From that night forward I was a new woman.

So, back to the beginning question… How is it being married to a cop? Well, it definitely isn’t easy but I can say that over time it gets easier. Fears that come naturally, fade as you learn ways to be smart and protect yourself and your family. News stories happen and emotions rise but they also fade and you learn from whatever it was that happened in the world to make those fears try to creep back into your mind. You find friends and people to help you talk through the hard times and you above all, always remember that no matter how hard you try to plan, YOU ultimately aren’t in control. I can’t stop the criminals from doing bad things. I can’t stop car accidents from happening. The only thing I can do is remember that God is in control and HE knows so much more than I do. Living a life of fear is no way to live, in fact it is miserable. Even though we now live in a city with more criminals and more crime, I know that we need good men and women out there on the side of the “good guys” and that is what my husband was born to do so I can either ask him to stop doing what God intended him to do or roll with the punches and learn to give up my fears. I can tell you that the second option is working so much better than the first and I am honored to live with my officer through the good days and the ones that scare me half to death. Fears still come but now I learn from them and move on because usually along with those scary days come some totally amazing days that make it all worth it. So, how is it being married to a cop??? It is an HONOR and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

YES, NO or WAIT

Today I learned that not only was God using that time to shape my husband, but he was using my husband to also shape me.

YES, NO OR WAIT.

I have heard it said that when we pray, God has one of three answers for us…Yes, No or Wait. Sometimes He grants our prayers and we are happy. Sometimes He says “No” and we wonder why He is being so mean. Still other times we don’t get an immediate answer and we have to Wait. This was the case for my husband and me as we spent years trying to find a way for him to become a full-time police officer.

He started his law enforcement career working in the smallest county jail in the entire state of WI. We hadn’t really thought about this field but we were both working low-paying jobs and since we were expecting our first child my husband decided to seek a job that would pay better so I could stay home to raise our son. Being hired in the jail was more about the money at the time. Little did we know it was just the start for us and would change our lives forever.

His working in the jail brought on many emotions for me that I’m sure I’ll get to in future posts, but today I am thinking about all of the times I heard about the conversations he had with his inmates. I didn’t know the names or the specifics of what was said but I heard many times how the way my husband treated the inmates made a difference in how they treated others.

He told of days he came into work and something happened to make an inmate angry. Some jailers would treat the inmates as they saw them, criminals behind bars, doing their time. But my husband always tried to see them for what they really were…people. People who had made a mistake, but still were people. He made connections with his people. When you spend 8 or sometimes 12 hours on a shift checking on someone at least twice an hour, taking them their meals, letting them in and out for work, dealing with their problems, etc. you inevitably start to get to know people. One of the things he would always tell me was that they still were people and deserved to be treated respectfully. If they disobeyed or were disrespectful that was a different situation but when they cooperated and followed the rules it was a different place. When certain inmates got riled up, my husband had a way of talking them down. After reading a book about it we found out it was a term called “Verbal Judo”. You can use words as your defense and often times do not need to use physical means to handle a bad situation. Often times the words even calmed them down enough that what was expected to become a bad situation just fizzled back to calm cooperation. Over time this became a skill he was known for and the inmates would ask to talk to him if there was a problem because they knew he would listen. What I took away from those years was that humans are much more than what their current situation may seem. When you get to know people or look at the big picture you often times see why they act as they do and how you treat them really does matter.

Now back to the Yes, No, Wait. It took several years, and a LOT of patience before we got to the point from wanting to be in fulltime law enforcement to actually getting the chance. Opportunities that we thought were a sure bet fell through and it actually took four years longer than we expected before my husband landed his first full-time job as a police officer. We would get to the final process in a location and then be turned down. We would apply somewhere we dreamed of living. We found places that we thought were perfect but time after time we just didn’t get the job. Then came Green Bay. After going to Law Enforcement academy here one of my husband’s classmates asked him to apply here. We had never considered it but apparently God knew best and after about a year-long process we accepted a job working for the department. Along the way we never understood the No’s that we thought should be a Yes. We grumbled and complained and began the search for a new location but the whole time we were seeking what we wanted instead of what God had in mind and it wasn’t until we listened to His will that we got our “Yes”.

During those years working in the jail all we wanted was to move on and to have him become a police officer but now when we look back we agree that the time he spent inside the jail talking to inmates and building personal communication skills were actually preparing him for a better and ultimately safer time on the road. What he learned in the jail both about himself and how to talk to people in stressful situations has helped him so many times in his job now in the city that I am grateful for the time we spent in “Wait” mode. We even had some No’s during the Wait and weren’t exactly sure how long the Wait would last but God knew and I have learned that He knows so much more than I do. When I tried to force things and pick where I was sure we were going to get hired, it only led to built up hope and then a rollercoaster ride down to the valley of disappointment. The whole time what we thought was mean was actually God equipping him and even teaching me about the value of waiting.

Today I learned that not only was God using that time to shape my husband, but he was using my husband to also shape me. That lesson about troubled people still being people has been a key part of several discussions we’ve had lately. We have talked about how you may see someone who is crabby or rude but you don’t know their circumstances. You don’t know what their life is like or what just may have happened two minutes before you saw them. Maybe they are just mean but maybe they are actually hurting and the way you treat them may just make a difference in their life. Just as the way my husband treated his inmates affected their behavior and actions, we need to think about the people around us and consider that we don’t always know the big picture.

I was able to pass this along to my students today when I was substitute teaching. While talking at the end of the day with a group of students they began to complain about a teacher and how mean he was. One of the students made a comment that the teacher must be having problems in his marriage because that’s what he would suspect if he acted this way at home. The rest of the class froze in amazement that those words actually came out of the student’s mouth so I saw this as an opportunity to talk about what I have learned about how we treat people. I shared with them the story I just wrote about above, how my husband used to work in the jail and how he learned to treat the people with respect. How we don’t always know the full story and knowing the story isn’t necessarily the important part. The important thing I wanted them to know was the difference we can make by choosing how we are going to treat people. If we treat even the meanest person with respect it just might make a difference. I had spent 20 minutes listening to my class talk about how their teacher needed to change but after my heart-to-heart with them there was a silence and a change of attitude… and maybe a change of heart in the kids. I may never see those kids again but I am sitting here tonight thinking back to the almost 15 years ago when we were waiting for our Yes to come.  It came, but God used the Wait for so much more than I’ll ever know and today the “Wait” lessons I learned were passed on to a whole new group of students.

Going through a “Wait” can be one of the hardest things we have to do but knowing what I know today, and feeling how I feel right now I am becoming more and more willing to walk alongside my husband through our “Waits” because the benefits we get on the other side are more amazing and wonderful than I could’ve ever imagined while I was inside the wait zone.

Just before the final bell rang today I watched the posture soften and the complaining words of my students change into Thank Yous. The last boy to leave my room today, the one who had done most of the talking but also seemed to change the most actually said, “Mrs. L., thanks for being a top notch substitute.”

I had shared with them that being a substitute meant I was at different schools, in different classrooms all the time and this may be the one and only time I ever see them, but if I could leave one thing with them it is that even if I only ever know them for one day of their life, I hope I make a difference in that one day. I hope that in my one day I taught them something and not just off of the lesson plan, but something about life and how to be a better person. I truly think today was one of those life changing days at least for one boy and if I have to wait another 10 years for a “wait” to become a “Yes”, I am willing to do it. Days like today don’t happen enough and I am hoping that as I learn to wait I can pass on my experiences and change more lives.

Isaiah 40:31

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

TEACH ME LORD, TEACH ME LORD…TO WAIT.

Almost

MY HUSBAND ALMOST HAD TO SHOOT A MAN TODAY.

MY HUSBAND ALMOST HAD TO SHOOT A MAN TODAY. Not even logged onto the computer yet, he received a call that my family and I actually saw him responding to. We had just pulled into the ice cream shop, hoping to catch a few minutes with him when we saw the red and blues go darting by. It was not until he stopped by after the call, but never got out of his car, that we found out it was him.

“Was the really HIM?” asked my mom. Yes. What has become a natural observance for me was fresh in her mind seeing him racing into action for the first time. I’ve been there for the missed dinner dates, or the times he just sat down and had to race off, never finishing his meal, to back up a Brother in Blue or come to someone’s aide. But she had just witnessed for herself a tiny piece of what my life is like.

So much happened that I will never know about but the words that I walked away with and that are still ringing in my ears right now are, “I almost had to shoot a man today.” I’ve heard it before but it has always been after he finished shift, changed back into his regular clothes and came home. I had never been there by him right after it happened. He texted later to apologize for the lack of words when my parents, boys and I came out to his squad to say hi and goodbye and wish him a safe night. But I understand. I am the one that stays up after shift to watch a movie or just talk until the adrenalin of the day tries to leave his system. I am the one that hears the “I can’t go right to bed when I get home, I just need a little time.” My other family members know I am married to a cop but I don’t think anyone else really knows just how much being a cop affects him to the core. Today I saw what it was like to be there with the adrenalin still fresh in his body. The way it changes who he is and the emotions he is feeling.

I watch the news and I see the stories about the shootings that DO happen. I can only imagine what those officers are feeling when they DO have to pull the trigger. But I don’t think people stop to think about how many times a day the word ALMOST comes into the picture. The shootings that happen are major events and are publicized so the media can have their day but what if we knew just how many times the word ALMOST happened. How many times do our men and women in blue choose in that split second, with the adrenalin flowing fierce and hard, to NOT pull the trigger? Something happens to let them decide that it’s not time to pull. Somehow they come out of the call safe and sound and go on to the next call pending on their screen. Sometimes they catch the perp and sometimes they get away but that decision, with adrenalin flowing and lives in the balance is one I cannot being to imagine having the responsibility to make.

I saw today what it was like when the word “ALMOST” had just happened, and with the way the world is going I will not be completely caught off guard if I get the call saying he had to pull the trigger. My point in writing this today is to share the story of this “ALMOST” and to ask people to stop and think about what it must be like to have to make that choice. There are consequences to both decisions and seeing how he felt after the ALMOST, I pray he never does have to pull the trigger. BUT, if I do ever get that call that he did have to make that choice I will know for sure that it was the right call, for I’ve seen what he feels after the ALMOST, and the wisdom, courage and strength it takes to not pull the trigger. If the call does come, I’ll have his six because I know he knows what he’s doing and has had to make the choice so many times. He walks the Thin Blue Line with honor and I have all the faith in the world that he was born to do this job. I love my cop with all my heart and am proud to be his wife.  I’ll continue to sit up late into the night to watch a movie, or just talk or hold his hand after the ALMOSTS. I’ll never know what it feels like to have that adrenaline slowly leaving my system, but I’ll always know what it feels like to be by his side and will always think of him as my HERO.

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