Recently J officially started his job as a police officer. Yes, he’s had this job for 7 months now, but this time it’s different because he’s the one in the uniform and the bullet proof vest, making the arrests, walking the beat, and doing all of that other police-y stuff (some of which are the exciting things you see on TV and some of which seem pretty boring). This job has been a long time coming and something we’ve subconsciously been preparing for for years; J being an officer has been in the plan for as long as I can remember. Even back in high school I knew in the back of my mind that, someday, we would be a blue family.
It came as a shock to me, then, the amount of fear and anxiety I had on his first official day.
I felt silly being worried all day, and pushed it back into a small corner of my mind. I tried deep breathing, and muscle relaxation, and cognitive rationalization (can you tell I’m a therapist?) but still it lingered. I prayed for his safety and for God’s hand of protection on him. I distracted myself with work and school and life.
And still, the fear was there.
And then I realized…it’s okay to have some of that fear, as long as it doesn’t overwhelm my life, and it’s okay to pray for my own peace.
I think that a lot of us somehow consider it selfish to pray for ourselves. Instead of asking for peace we feel like we should be praying for whatever is making us nervous-another person, typically, or a situation, or an outcome. I know I do.
And I think that sometimes we get caught up in the sacrifice of our faith and we want the best for our loved ones so much that we forget to take care of ourselves too. Moms, dads, husbands, wives-we should be praying for our families. But part of being a good parent, or spouse, or sibling, or friend is filling our own cups, too. I am constantly reminded of the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, and friends, that’s absolutely true. Psalm 55:22 tells us to cast all of our cares on Him and we will be sustained. Not just our cares for others, or the cares we think are big and important enough to bring to the Lord, but ALL of them, every little one.
The other day J was working late and although I knew rationally that he was certainly just stuck at the station, the minutes ticked by without any word and I nervously kept checking my phone and the clock. I prayed for his safety and waited.
And then, I prayed for my peace. A simple, quick prayer, asking God to just blanket me in peace and ease my troubled mind.
As I think about it more I realize that the fear I feel isn’t all about J. It’s easy to group all of my worries and anxious thoughts onto that one thing but I know that’s not true. Somehow, that added weight became the one that tipped the scale. Suddenly, the other little worries I had about work and school, money and clients, moving logistics and wedding details-they all became heavier.
Until I took a moment to myself. To take a walk and enjoy the sunshine, to pray not only for others but for myself, to take some extra time drinking my morning coffee and doing my devos. When I am a better me I am also a better fiancé, a better intern, a better student, a better daughter, a better employee. Our society has such a negative view on self-care and taking time to ourselves. If you hear one thing please let it be this: loving and taking care of yourself is not selfish. Praying for yourself is not selfish.
J and I are just beginning this new chapter together and although it’s hard now, I know that won’t last forever. Soon, we will have a new normal (which will include living in the same state, yay!) that will soon change when I get a new job. That will then change when we have a family. That will then change when we move, or switch careers, or any one of a thousand things. But I know with certainty that the constants will always be there, and that with faith and family as a foundation no fear will last forever.
“Do not be anxious in anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”