Law and Grace at Home

boypoliceWhen I was a child I remember parents who would scold their children and tell them if they didn’t straighten up that they would tell let that policeman over there to “get em.” I’ve long had a concern that this may cause an unnecessary and even unhealthy fear and distrust of law enforcement officers.

This never happened in our household because “that policeman” was my dad. I had an amazing privilege to grow up in the home of a law enforcement officer who lived (lives) by the standards of honesty, integrity, and justice. He never threatened to “turn me over to that policeman” but instead made sure I was aware of the strap of leather around his waist provided by the state of Mississippi. In my home, my father was the law.

There have unfortunately been periods in our history where law enforcement could not be trusted. The Old West is replete with stories of those who were only separated from the gunslingers and cattle rustlers by the badges they wore. There are shameful things that have been done by individuals who have abused power and have been unnecessarily harsh and sometimes downright evil.  Some of these individuals still hide behind uniforms and power and there are communities in which justice does not ultimately reign.  However, that can be said of men across professions and careers and roles including wolves in sheep’s clothing in ministry.

Law enforcement officers are men and women of all backgrounds and races. Everyone’s job (if it’s really a job) is stressful. Theirs is a stress of a different nature because they daily lay their lives on the line (not that others do not). I remember hearing (and assume it is still true) that the divorce rate for law enforcement was higher than any other profession.

My Dad worked hard not to bring work home. There was one time he came home with a torn uniform covered in mud and blood after a physical altercation with someone who ran and another where politics threatened his job – those he could not help. But the vast majority of time when he came home, we had whiskered hugs, were toted around on shoulders, we were fed, cared for and safe. In our home, my father was grace.

Though my dad was insistent our family participate annually in law enforcement memorial day, it wasn’t until later in life it really hit me that there are many dads (and moms) who never came home. There were knocks on the door with someone else in uniform, who was not that person’s parent, and that was the last uniformed individual to ever pull in and out of the drive way.

Sure, there are “bad cops,” there are those who are struggling just like you, there are thousands who, from my position, I believe need the gospel of Jesus Christ more than anything (that’s all of us anyway) But in the thin blue (in my case, gray) line, there is a thinner line of men and women who would give their lives to ensure that you make it home at the end of the day and would call it their honor. There are those you want protecting you. My Dad (retired) is one of those men.

So parents, do us all a favor, do not teach your children to be afraid of law enforcement individuals, he or she is possibly someone else’s mom or dad. Instead, find a law enforcement officer today to thank for the job they do.

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