After the failed ambush on the Dallas Police Department, my phone lit up. The messages came pouring in from people from my hometown and from people across the nation. There was one common element to each conversation. “Dallas has really bothered me.” I get it. It bothered me, too. I had to make the decision to focus on the fact that the officers involved responded to their training and kept every single person out there alive. In an event that was designed for mass casualty, the Officers of Dallas, Texas responded and their response was like a battle cry heard across the entire nation. “We will not be defeated.”
There aren’t many days that pass without me getting a phone call or an email from concerned spouses, worried parents, or emotionally worn down police officers. The emails range from questions about how they can help the current national climate of policing and then there are the emails that manage to give them a little hope because there is simply someone on the other end who understands what they are saying.
Every few days, we put up a Q&A on our Facebook page. We hand the floor over to the Humanize the Badge followers and let them ask anything they want. It creates a platform where many people, with similar circumstances, can share their stories and support one another. There’s always one question that stands out to me specifically and it almost always comes from a new LEO wife.
“What advice do you have for a new wife? My husband will be hitting the streets next week and I’m extremely worried.”
I was thinking about that question last night as I was letting the hamster wheel of thoughts keep me awake. I started making a mental list of how many thing we could actively be doing to make this life easier on us; all of us. Even though my husband would disagree, I don’t pretend to know everything. I am very much one of those people who analyze everything happening around me at all times. As I was dissecting the many layers of the aforementioned question, it gave me motivation to write several things we could all be doing collectively.
1. Don’t Be Consumed.
My dad is someone who has constantly delivered me healthy doses of truth when I am feeling overwhelmed by external factors in my life. I remember sitting on the patio with him while I was waiting for my husband to return from a rather dangerous SWAT call-up. I was pacing back and forth while my little boy played in his sandbox a few feet away from me. My dad looked up at me and said “You’re missing that.” Already annoyed with the fact that I knew a life lesson was right around the corner, I asked him what he meant. “Your little boy is sitting there having the time of his life and you’re missing it because you’re consumed by something that is outside of your control. Worry isn’t going to bring him home. His skillset and the good Lord will bring him home.” And, he was right. I was missing moments that were happening right in front of me because I was too busy wasting energy on worry. It was then that I decided that I didn’t want to miss the things going on around me because I was consumed by fear.
2. Be Brave.
If they are brave enough to walk out the door every day and face a threat head on, we have to be brave enough to send them out that same door. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck sometimes. It doesn’t mean that a little bit of your heart doesn’t drop when you see them pull out of the drive. It just means that you’ve chosen to be brave. Somewhere along the way. I learned my husband didn’t need to worry about me emotionally while he was on the job. He needed to know that I had it together and I would strongly and consistently hold the fort down at home. Be brave. We don’t have another option.
3. Get the Weeds out of your Garden.
Don’t do it. Don’t you dare go to the comments section on an article involving the police. You know what you will find there. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into the muck. Do you have friends and family on your Facebook news feed that bash the police? Get rid of them. When it’s no longer a fashion choice to hate the police, they are going to look incredibly stupid. That’s their problem and not yours. Simply put, disengage from people who are not of like mind as you. It will only bring you down. There are plenty out there that still believe in what our men and women in blue do every single day. Find them.
4. Be Better.
If you do encounter someone who is committed to misunderstanding you, always choose kindness. We represent each other in our day to day choices. Usually before I comment on anything (which is rarely), I ask myself if I am making my fellow officer spouses proud by what I’m saying. It doesn’t make any sense to engage in hateful exchanges with other people. People who spend their time dwelling in the comments section and playing Monday morning quarterback have the time to do that because they aren’t busy doing anything to change the world. Be busy making a difference. Be busy proving people wrong. Just like officers are held to a higher standard, we should hold ourselves in the same light.
5. Be Involved.
Get involved! Find programs within your local department in which you can volunteer. Ask national campaigns how you assist in their outreach. Start a family support group for people in your community. There is so much work to be done and there isn’t an end in sight. There is something out there that everyone can do to help during this time.
So, that’s my answer. That’s the advice I have for how we can make a difference. We can make a difference by being different than other social media presences. Being mad and hateful is easy. I would even call it lazy. Being so strong in mind that you can’t be brought down by those around you is what true strength looks like. I’m not saying that we all need to join in a circle and sing in unison. I’m saying we should always choose the stronger and the higher road. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have one specific form. Do not allow the words of those who oppose you to take up residence in your mind. We need to safeguard integrity, honor, and goodness now more than ever.