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I can’t pretend to understand the things you’ve seen. I know the bad things I’ve heard in the news, I know the stories I’ve heard personally – but I know the whitewashed version. The sanitized version. The version that’s digestible by the general public.
The things you’ve experienced, they’re raw. Uncut. Unfiltered.
Whether you’ve seen neglect and apathy, horrific acts of rage, or just the senselessness of your fellow man, it gets to you. I know it does. The things you’ve seen can’t help but change you.
The truly scary thing, though, is when those things make you feel hopeless. When the horrors you’ve witnessed, the victims you’ve tried to help, when they stick with you and make you feel like you’re not making a difference. When you feel there’s too much to be done. When you feel like your contribution doesn’t matter.
And worse – that you don’t matter.
Can I be honest? I’ve been there.
No, I’ve never been a police officer. But I have absolutely felt ineffective, useless, and like nobody cares about me. Like maybe my husband would be better off if he had a different wife. Like my son would be better off with a different mother.
It’s an awful feeling.
I want to tell you something, though: it’s not true.
That idea, that the world would be better off without you? It’s a lie – so please don’t believe it.
I don’t care how screwed up you think you are. I don’t care if you feel like a failure as a spouse or as a parent. I don’t care if you think you suck at your job. I mean – I do, actually, care if you feel that way.
But the point I’m trying to make is, regardless of any of those things, your life matters.
You are unique – and I’m not saying that in the “special snowflake” kind of way. I’m saying that in the, you run toward danger when everyone else runs away. You signed up to be the first person to arrive when there’s an emergency and to help in any way you can – even if that means you have images in your head that will never go away.
No matter how ineffective or cowardly you may feel, that means something. Not many people can do that – and even if they could, most wouldn’t be willing to.
I’m betting you applied to be a police officer because you felt something calling you. You felt something deep-rooted in you that made you want to be in a position to help people. That drive got you through the academy, through FTO, through the days you weren’t sure if you could make it.
Remember that – because that’s something special.
The truth is, you don’t have to be the perfect person, or the perfect spouse, or the perfect parent, or even the perfect police officer to make a difference in the world.
You’re here because you’re supposed to be. Because it’s where you’re designed to be. And that means nobody else can take your place – even if you sometimes wish they could.
By the way, if you’re wishing someone could take your place, you’re not alone. If you’re haunted by the tragedies you’ve seen and wish somebody else could deal with them so you don’t have to, remember Jesus himself asked for the bitter cup to pass from him (reference) – but said if that wasn’t possible, that he would drink it.
If you wish you didn’t have to deal with what you’re dealing with right now, you’re absolutely not alone.
I need you to know that. Your family needs you to know that – both your blood relatives and those who stand on the blue line with you.
You’re needed. You make a difference. You matter.
If you’re struggling right now – if you feel there’s no hope left, if you feel like the world would be better off without you – please take a deep breath and know there’s always hope. Always. Life can (and will) get better if you let it.
Don’t you dare vote against that hope by ending it. This world needs you too much. Don’t take yourself out of the game prematurely just because you don’t think you can win.
Keep going. Keep fighting. Do what you can, even if it means you’re crawling through your days.
If you need help, please reach out and get it. There’s no shame in doing so – and you’d probably be surprised by how many of your fellow officers have had to do the same thing.
Take heart. Know you’re not the only one to ever struggle in life. Know you’re so important to those around you, that if you could see inside their minds, you’d know they absolutely wouldn’t be better off without you. They’d be heartbroken.
And those images you can’t get out of your mind? I’m so sorry. I know what that’s like – and again, I haven’t seen what you’ve seen. But I know what it’s like to replay horrible things over and over again and not being able to get rid of them. It’s awful.
All I can say is – go back to Christ. He’s seen those things, too. He knows how you feel – precisely how you feel. And he’s ready and willing to help you cope with them if you turn to Him.
So please – cry out to Him. Scream at Him. Come to Him with your questions.
Know that He’s big enough to handle all your brokenness – and that no matter how alone you feel, you’re not.
I need you to keep holding on, because no matter how bleak things might look, there’s always hope. Better days will come.
If you’re having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. You can call the suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433 to speak to someone, or, if you prefer, they now have a text line. You are loved and so, so needed.