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Something about the last few days has made me contemplate where I used to be versus where I am now.
Maybe it’s because my son is about to turn two (where did the time go?), maybe it’s because I realized I’m now closer to 30 than I am to 20 (seriously, where the heck did it go?), or maybe it’s just because, well, I’ve grown a lot over the last year alone, let alone the last 5 and 10 years.
It’s amazing to look back at who I used to be and think of all the differences. Just under 10 years ago, I moved out on my own for the first time. I learned how to live alone, I learned how to manage my money, I worked all kinds of jobs and lived in my super small studio apartment that I was insanely proud of.
My husband was just my boyfriend at the time, and had barely started applying to police departments.
We had no idea what life had in store for us. Looking back, I feel like we were just kids.
A lot of the things I’ve learned over the past few years are things I learned because of being married to a police officer, and I wanted to share them today.
5 Things Being A Police Wife Taught Me About Life
I’m stronger than I thought I was.
I can do so much more than I thought.
I can rock being a mom by myself. Heck, I can even recover from a C-section as a largely single parent, with a baby who struggles to nurse, for whom I needed to pump after bottle feeding and rocking him back to sleep. I was exhausted, but I did it, and I kept the kiddo alive, so I’m calling that a win.
Heck, our financial struggles led me to building my own business – completely from home! In which I get to be my own boss and help people. Who knew?
But seriously, all the struggles I encountered as a police wife have made me realize I’m far more competent than I give myself credit for. I’m way more adaptable and, well, scrappy than I thought I was.
I’m also more selfish than I realized.
With lots of prayer, I’ve become more patient and giving, but it took a while. And I’m still working on it. But trust me – at the beginning of our marriage, I was so selfish. I didn’t lift a finger without wondering if things were “fair”, or if I was getting enough out of it.
So sacrificing so much of my husband’s time for the job? It took a lot out of me at first.
I know I’m not the only police wife who’s ever sincerely hated the job. Especially after we had our son and my husband had to go back to work just 8 hours later, I hated it. Sure, it was partially hormones – but truly, I hated everything about the job.
I felt like it took so much away from me, from our family, and it just wasn’t fair.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that while I was right, it was totally unfair, it also wasn’t going to change anytime soon – so I had the option of giving into the despair and focusing on the unfairness, or finding a way to be okay with it. Because, honey? Life ain’t fair.
You know what else isn’t fair? Marriage. I remember going into marriage thinking things would (and should!) be 50/50. I’m starting to understand that that’s so not true. Marriage is 100/100, sometimes 150/50, and every so often it feels like 2000/0. It happens, it’s normal, and it’s not something to be upset over. It is that way for a reason – to help us grow.
It really is a painfully small world sometimes.
You know that awkward feeling when the pizza delivery guy is someone your husband once booked into jail? If you don’t, you’re either lucky or you haven’t been a police wife long enough, because I swear, at some point, it happens to everyone.
It reminds me of that episode of Friends, where for the umpteenth time Chandler runs into Janice and she talks about how it’s a small world. His response? “And yet, I never run into Beyonce.” Exactly how I feel sometimes.
In the super small town we used to live in, we couldn’t go grocery shopping without running into at least one former inmate.
Sometimes, it wasn’t so bad – some of them would greet J like he was an old friend. Which always astounded me and made me love and respect him even more than I already do. Other times, he’d disappear without a trace until he felt like the coast was clear (or I’d meet him back at the car, either way.)
Regardless – it can get kind of awkward.
There are parts of life that are uglier than I ever thought possible… but there’s a lot of beauty, too.
I thought I had a deep understanding of how awful life could be. After all, I went to school with the goal of working with victims of domestic violence and/or rape. I heard plenty of stories that made my stomach turn, ones that haunted me and kept me awake at all hours of the night.
It turns out, those stories were (unfortunately) just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much sickness, misery, and wickedness in this world, and sometimes it seems so impossible for any of it to be right again. It’s enough to make you want to shut down and give up.
But that very ugliness, the very things that cause my husband to shut down after a long shift, to sneak into our son’s room at night to reassure himself that he’s safe and healthy? That’s exactly what stokes the fire of our faith. Those hideously unfair things make us cling tight to the beauty that is the gospel, to the surety that is Christ.
While yes, sometimes the ugly things make us question why He would allow it, through prayer, we come to remember that every pain has been felt and overcome by Him. As a police wife, when you have even the slightest understanding of how deeply the people around you suffer through your husband’s job, it’s mind-blowing to consider that Christ is there, through all of it. He’s felt the pain, the desperate unfairness, the awful situations caused by the malice or indifference of others.
To have faith in Christ, to know that felt all those things and made it possible not only for the afflicted to be compensated, but also for the evildoers to be forgiven – no matter what? That’s absolutely beautiful. That hope alone can make things good again.
(You can read more on that topic here: 4 Ways To Hold Tight To Your Faith When Your Faith Is Shaken)
Life is truly what you make of it.
There was a time when I thought people were split into two types: those who were lucky and got all the breaks, and those who were unlucky and had to live hard lives. I thought you were just born as one or the other, and that was that.
As a result, I naturally imagined I was born in the latter group. I struggled with depression and anxiety, I felt lonely all the time, I felt like all the financial issues, personal issues, etc, I thought I had the market just about cornered on all of them.
Of course, I don’t need to tell you how ridiculous that is.
But somewhere along the line, I’ve learned what a difference attitude makes. I’ve realized that I can approach the same situation two different ways and have two completely different outcomes.
For instance, an unexpectedly late shift? I could whine and cry about how unfair it is and go to bed pouting… or I could allow myself to mourn for a minute or two, then bounce back and create a new plan. When things don’t happen like I want them to, I can choose to be miserable about it, or I can choose to make the best of it.
I heard this quote once that life is only 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make of it. It’s absolutely true. Some of the worst things people can go through make them better, more sensitive, more able to change the world. They’re not for nothing.
There are a lot of downsides to being married to a police officer, but there’s so much this life has taught me. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned as a police wife?
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