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The Thin Blue Life

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Who The Heck Do You Think You Are, Officer?

Who The Heck Do You Think You Are, Officer
Image Credit: Logan Weaver from Unsplash.com

Today’s guest post is from Chad Campese, a police officer for over twenty years, author of the book Confession of a Christian Fraud, and creator of the website Christianfraud.com. He is a student of Police Officer Wellness, holds a BA in Christian Counseling and Psychology, and is certified in CISM and CIT:

Who the heck do you think you are, officer? Because you’re not a cop. Stop it. No, you’re not a police officer. I don’t care what garbage they fed you during the academy, what our law enforcement culture spouts off, or what your department keeps telling you. Enough. Because that mindset is killing us. Slowly. Methodically. And it’s taking out our families and everything we love with it.

I used to think that way. I’m a cop. It’s both who I am and what I do. It was what I was made to be. And, as I wrote in my book, and my last post, it contributed to almost killing everything I loved, including me. But it doesn’t have to, because it isn’t true, and to get past it we need to see the forest from the trees and call it out. Now. As many have shared in their own stories, people’s lives and families are on the line.

Truth. You are not a police officer. I am not a cop. You are NOT your job. You’re more. You were created to be so much more. And if you hold your identity as what you do for money, especially in this specific line of work, it’s going to eventually ruin both you, and your family. Different timelines for different people. But after speaking to so many officers across the country, I can almost guarantee it. You were created to be led by your Father. Into a career, through life, and back out the other side, whole, fulfilled, and being guided with purpose for the rest of your days. Click To Tweet

You work as an officer. You simply trade your time for their money doing an important and fulfilling job that will seep into your veins and cause you to see yourself as your career. It becomes who you are. It happens to all of us. And with that comes the cop mindset which transforms us one negative day at a time. Every. Single. Shift. For years. And decades. And while it will help society stay safe, it also will slowly kill your life. If you let it. You, officer, and your family, will be society’s sacrificial lamb.

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Truth. There was already someone who took the place of the sacrificial lamb to tell you who you are, behind the badge. At the base of life. Before any other label you use to describe yourself. You were created to be led by your Father. Into a career, through life, and back out the other side, whole, fulfilled, and being guided with purpose for the rest of your days. That will look different to everyone. Peace. Purpose. Freedom. They’re meant to be yours.

Let’s be honest, life outside the shift isn’t anything like a day at work. But inside, you already know that. Life is full of good people who work hard and are doing the best they can as they try to figure out this thing called life. Just like we are, and right beside us.

Why after we start this job does our circle shrink? Why don’t we see life the way we once did? Friends we had fall away, separation, divorce, kids become estranged from years of having to live with us. Our only circles become the angry, negative people we’ve become over the years, together on the job. Misery loves company. And boy do we cops love to hate the world, together. And, let’s be clear, we are victims. Victims of our circumstance, of our jobs, of the world we’ve immersed ourselves in, maybe. And because of those, because of their effects on us, we signed up to become old, lonely, bitter and alone, with a view of the world that isn’t steeped in reality. It’s formed by the job.

And if somehow you’ve avoided that mindset and have no idea what I’m talking about, you might be a unicorn. Or, chances are, you’ve already found the solution. Maybe you’ve had it since the beginning of your career. I thought I did. Turns out I was wrong. Took me some time, heartache, and struggle to figure it out. But, turns out, it’s simple.

Easy even. If I asked, who are you, and you couldn’t say police officer, what would you say? Yeah. I was kidding. It isn’t so simple.

But it is necessary. And the hard work is worth it. Because the job DOES end, the badge DOES disappear, and most likely when it does your city, your county, and your department will give you a hand shake, a plaque, and then promptly forget all about you after a few months. It’s the name of the game. It’s how it has to be. But you don’t need to let it ruin you or your family.

What did you believe about the world before the badge? Why? Who are you after the job comes to a close? Yeah. It sucks. Thinking about the deep stuff. The important stuff. The things we keep from really looking inside and evaluating as we busy ourselves with the pointless stuff.

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Who are you, officer? In the quiet. In your favorite chair, in the night away from work and the TV and the things you do to keep your mind occupied? Since you’re still reading this, I can say with confidence, you’re a child of God.

He’s calling you now, through this post. And you’re being relentlessly pursued through life, no matter what you’ve done, how angry you are, or how much you’ve pushed Him or others away. You were never meant to feel alone, to be alone. To walk life alone. You were made for community and life and purpose. And being a police officer is a great one. But it can’t be the only one. It can’t be an end in itself. Some of the greatest men I know are cops, and they’re also guys that everyone, including their own families and even myself at times, avoid at all costs. Because of who the job has turned them into.

God’s calling you to more. To everything that makes life worth living. To put away the badge and gun as your identity, and instead let Him lead you through a job you do for a living, that again, will end one day. For some, much sooner than later. Who are you after it goes away?

Feel the call? Did the words hit home? Not sure where to go from here? Check out my last article, my website: Christianfraud.com, and grab a copy of my book. Then get with me. Let me know where you’re at and what, if anything, needs to change.

Or, maybe you don’t agree. Maybe you’d say I’m way off. I’d love to know that as well. I’m always up for a deep discussion. Hit me up at Chad.campese@gmail.com. Or connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

My bet, my suspicion, is that you’ve heard the same voice I did a few years ago. Calling you out of the negative. Calling you out of the “cop” identity. Calling you to more. Calling you to be able to answer the question, who are you, with no reference to the job you’re proud to trade some of your precious time for. And if I’m right, the time is now. Quit whining officer. Quit avoiding the important questions, the deep stuff. Because those answers are the only things that make life worth living. But again, you already know that. Yes, you’ve got a mission to fulfill, and it isn’t just behind a badge. Life, real life, is calling…

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Written By

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is also an Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. J. Warner presently serves as a chaplain for his agency and holds a BA in Design (from CSULB), an MA in Architecture (from UCLA), and an MA in Theological Studies (from Gateway Seminary).

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