Associate Magazine-Jan/Mar 2021


Jeff Kruithoff

W elcome to the year 2021. Everyone reading this message probably feels they can say they have lost five years off their life expectancy because they lived through the year 2020. I do not say that to mean disrespect to all those families who lost a family member to COVID or trauma in the past year, but only offered this observation to suggest that the cumulative stress and strain of 2020 will leave a lasting effect on our physical and mental health. In the past several years, we have embarked on a walk of five “S”’s in these Chaplain articles. We discussed spending deliberate time in solitude, scripture, service of others, and sup- porting others in previous articles. In this article, I would like to talk about significant events. As the final “S” in this series, it is important to look for the significant events in our life. Then, we need to use these significant events to permanently alter the arc of our spiritual or emotional walk. The year 2020 was a year of significant events for every per- son in our country, but more so for those serving in the profes- sion of law enforcement An unseen virus disrupted our workday and work practices so much that a return to “the good old days” may never happen. Our officers were expected to become the “mask” police while at the same time wide spread calls for de- funding the police were heard because we were performing tasks that had nothing to do with crime. Added to that was wide spread protests in many of our cities, and a never-ending drum beat of legislation and political speeches on how messed up our chosen profession was and how much it needed to change. We saw young and emotionally vulnerable officers accused of painting others with a broad brush of systemic racism by people painting them with a broad brush of old and worn out stereotypes. Although many of us made an early decision to stand up against the barrage of criticism it quickly became obvious that we needed to step aside and let this train pass, until such time, as a more reasoned and logical dialog could occur in our country. As I write this, that time has still not arrived. So why are we challenged by significant events in our lives? Think for a minute if you response to a bank robbery, critical incident, or community death the same way you first responded to these incidents as a rookie. Is the path you have walked as a police practitioner a path of steady improvement or is it a level line where you have not changed from year to year. The fact that this audience are members of the finest law enforcement organization in the world; I would suspect each and every one of you have walked a path of steady improvement upwards and forward to a goal of excellence in your professional lives. You could not have done that without significant events happening in your career. We learn from significant events. Both positive events and negative events. I am always struck when a professional athlete mentions how much they learned by losing a playoff, or losing a contest due to a mistake, and how much that experience prepared them to win in a future event. Your spiritual walk is no different.

Without significant events helping to shape our relationship with God, we would merely be drifting along in both our professional and personal lives. For example, having children is a significant event. Ask yourself if that event brought you closer to your spouse as you now had to transverse the ground of raising a child that expend- ed both of your energies to the maximum on some days. Using significant events to bring you closer to your God are no different. First, you must acknowledge that you have just expe- rienced a significant event. As police officers, we many times gloss over a significant event because we know another event might just be around the next corner. We need to pause, and acknowl- edge that we have just experienced something out of the ordinary. Similar to when we debrief the major incidents in our oc- cupation, we need to debrief the significant events of our lives. What happened? How was God present in this event? How could this event have been much worse if God was not involved? What lessons can I draw from this experience? Dig into the incident to determine and memorialize exactly what happened. Pay attention to the details. Do not gloss over the incident but seriously look for Gods hand in the incident. Discover how God was working in this event. What could have happened that did not, or what did happen that we did not expect because God was showing his clear actions of protection over us. Discuss and share with others how you saw God’s love or his presence in this incident. Share what consequences may or may not have happened if God had not been part of this event. Take this experience and let it move you to another level in your spiri- tual consciousness or faith walk. Our life is full of significant events designed to teach us and bring us closer to our Lord. Be watchful for them. Capture every lesson to be learned from them. Allow these events to perma- nently alter the arc of your spiritual life to a higher and higher level. You will not be disappointed in how your emotional and spiritual walk will change.

Until next time. Feel free to contact me.

Jeff Kruithoff, National Chaplain | 937.545.0227

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