I remember the night my husband donned his bulletproof vest, duty belt, and radio for his first shift on his own as a police officer. He had finished training. Another officer had been in the car with him at all times. Now, he would be responding to calls, stopping cars, doing everything his job entails, on his own.
I remember the tears welling up as I watched his car pull away. The panic flared as the thoughts began racing.
Will I ever see him again? What if this is the last time I hug him goodbye? How will I manage being a widow and a single mom?
I’ve watched the news and heard the reports. I don’t live under a rock. I know that in our current society, tensions run high around law enforcement officers. My husband has been in a high-risk job as a police officer for nearly two years, and I sometimes still struggle with those same panicked thoughts and the undercurrent of fear when he leaves for work. The reality of the dangers of his job are not lost on me. With two young children now, it can sometimes feel overwhelming thinking about all the what ifs.
How to Deal When Your Husband Works a High-Risk Job
Nothing in my life up to this point has challenged and grown my faith as much as Matt becoming a police officer. For the first time, I’ve had to come face to face with the idea—the actual possibility—that my husband might not come home. That I might end up raising our small children alone. That thought can send me into a tailspin of panic, or it can send me straight to the arms of God for comfort and strength.
I’m grateful that, for the most part, it’s been the latter.
Accepting the Reality Without Living in Fear
When your husband works a high-risk job, there is a very fine line between accepting the reality of the danger his job entails and living in fear.
Accepting the reality that his job is dangerous allows me to not sweat the small stuff and soak up our time together. It makes me especially grateful every time he comes home safe. But if I’m not careful, I can dwell too much on the danger and start to live in fear and “what if.”
I’ve found that accepting the reality of the risk is freeing. It frees me from getting too upset about the things that didn’t get done or the little annoyances that come with marriage. It frees me to love more fully and truly soak up the time we have together. Knowing that there are many women out there who no longer get to cook dinner for their officer-husband or fold his clean clothes brings perspective that helps me to live in the moment and give thanks for it.
But when I’m living in fear, it’s paralyzing. Living in fear, for me, looks a lot like checking my phone every ten minutes to see if he’s texted back. It looks like staying up too late because I’m anxious that Matt might not come home. It looks like obsessively reading the news about police officer shootings and thinking that, soon, our luck will run out.
I’ve learned to notice the difference between the two feelings—a feeling of freedom vs. a feeling of paralysis—and to intentionally seek out help when I veer towards the latter.
Deciding Jesus is Enough
A few years ago, I heard a podcast episode with a woman who was recounting a very dark time in her life. Her infant son was dying and her marriage was on the brink of collapse. She recalled how she asked herself a very difficult question: Would Jesus be enough?
If her son died and she no longer had a child, would Jesus be enough?
If her husband left and she was no longer a wife, would Jesus be enough?
That podcast forever changed me, and I think about it so often in light of Matt’s job. When your husband works a high-risk job, and the reality of danger feels too close for comfort, I’ve found it’s helpful to simply repeat to myself, “Jesus is enough.”
If the unthinkable were to happen and my husband was taken away, Jesus would be enough. If he were injured on the job and our lives changed forever, Jesus would be enough. And if absolutely everything I love was stripped away, Jesus would be enough.
Some days, repeating that phrase feels like the epitome of “fake it til you make it.” I sometimes don’t feel like I believe it. But I say it anyway, trusting that God will turn my unbelief into belief, and that His promises are true. That no matter what, in every trial, Jesus truly is enough.
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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
This is such a cliche, but it’s also so true. When your husband leaves for work and that work sometimes includes putting his safety on the line, so many things are put into perspective.
I am so grateful for Matt’s job and the ways it has brought us closer as a married couple. It has empowered me to let go of a lot of things that would normally annoy or irritate me. Because in the grand scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter.
We certainly aren’t perfect, and I have a long way to go. But watching Matt pull a kevlar vest over his head really makes me second-guess being annoyed about him not taking out the trash. His job has made me better able to let things go and not get too bent out of shape about the little things, and has made me much more mindful of and grateful for our time together.
Place Yourselves into the Hands of Providence
Most days, before my husband leaves for work, we pray a simple prayer together as a family. I pray for protection over Matt’s life, and ask God to bring him home safely. I pray for strength for me, for peace and comfort, and that God would cover our family with His protection.
As Matt drives away (the kids and I watch him leave nearly every shift that he works), I pray the Guardian Angel Prayer silently to myself. This practice of praying for my husband as he drives away, heading to a job which might include danger and could take his life, is a practical reminder that our lives are not our own. That we are called to “place ourselves gently into the hands of Providence,” as one of my favorite saints, St. Theodore Guerin, once said.
Turning Fear Into Faith
It is hard to send your husband off to a high-risk job. In the case of law enforcement, it is very difficult to face the reality that people might wish your husband harm simply because of the badge he wears. Watching my husband put on his uniform brings a mix of deep pride and racing fear. But here is what I know to be true: God will never leave or forsake us. He blesses our efforts. He will never turn us down when we pray to turn our fear into faith.
God is there with open arms, ready to flood our hearts with the peace that surpasses all understanding. In our overwhelm or anxiety, let us turn to Him, our good, good Father, who will never let us down.
Does your husband work in a high-risk job? How has that impacted your faith? What are your best tips for dealing with all that a high-risk job entails?
Valerie Keinsley is a wife to a police officer and mama to two little ones living in central Indiana, where she and her husband are currently doing a massive renovation of their 116-year-old home. She loves WWII novels, decaf chai lattes, and trying to keep houseplants alive. She is striving to find and name beauty in the midst of the mundane, and loves to share her “good lists” on instagram. You can find out more about her here.