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"I'm just afraid that..."

We hear this all the time. As a female police chaplain with our town police department, I hear this a lot. It is not a male or female problem. Often, we say this as a random transition in conversation. “I’m afraid that, I just fear that…” and then we’ll start rambling about things we’re not really that worried about. We’ll then say something cliche such as, “Well, I guess it will all work out.” But often these voiced “light fears” can come from a heart often in turmoil and change. It could be a change in work or home life, family difficulty, or in the face of loss through a death.

Often I ask people what kind of support network they have to lean on in these times of change, fear and turmoil. I often hear the “Oh, I’ve got my family, or “my church”, and then the subject gets changed. Sadly, many have these things but would never reach out for “fear.” Or, I may hear truth, “I don’t have one”, or, “I can’t really trust others or let them get too close.” “I have to be in top form at work. If I let others at work or in my family know I’ve got real problems, then I’ll be out of a job.” This is one of the side effects of police work and of many who serve others. It can make our heart difficult to access. It is so easy to shove pain down, and ignore it. If we do not let anyone know the fears that are deep within, then they can erode us and keep us feeling isolated. Coupled with sleepless nights or days, and compounded by the stress of the job, it can put us and those who serve into a deep well. Our greatest human need is to belong. Yet, in serving others, we often are lonely. As chaplains, we’re often in a double bind. We are trying to serve those that serve. Those we are serving look to us to be “ok”. If we’re struggling, hurting or in denial, and letting those we serve think we’re “ok”, then we’ve cheated them of the opportunity to see transparency that will open an opportunity for them to share their own problems and connect to us, and solutions. So then, together we become stronger. We are not an island, but made for relationship.

Public safety officers, police, fire safety, ems, support staff and families are often in a tornado of change and fear of the present and future. Is there hope and a way to cope through it? Yes! A big one at that! Stay engaged with those you love or trust and talk your way through it. Just as you would encourage those you serve to get they need, we must be willing to do this as well. Don’t bottle it up and wait for it to explode! Stay close to the Father and get help from others. Together we can share resources, encouragement, training and support. Meet you at the top… Kathy Thompson, Chaplain- Town of Lexington Police Department

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