I have always been the type of person who wants people to hear my heart more than they hear my words. Because words can be interpreted several ways, but the heart, the heart can only be either good or bad. I'm a firm believer in the Scripture verse that encourages us to keep our heart right with all of our might because from it flows the springs of life.
In this season more than anything, I want to keep my heart right. So I decided to share my thoughts transparently but with wisdom (Proverbs 31:26).
Some people may think I have a strong disdain for law enforcement, especially considering everything that's going on. I don't, though, because I understand the need for law enforcement. Matter of fact, I spent four years, in a Criminal Justice undergrad program at Tennessee State University just to understand the need. I get it. Heck, I used to be among the "brothers in blue" for years before I resigned, and I truly enjoyed what I brought to the uniform...and I met some great people who still continue to carry their calling in uniform well too.
But what I have yet to fully understand, though, is the disdain deeply embedded in law enforcement for people of color that's glossed over and overlooked through systematic racism. It's there. I saw it from the moment I was old enough to understand systematic racism. We cannot deny that race is a problem when it comes to the police versus certain communities. I knew it was a problem going in and I honestly thought I could "bring change." Yeah. Right.
The reality that people of color don't like to admit is - we see it even when we don't want to see it or when we try to look away because "those are our coworkers and we got their six." But no matter how you sugar coat it, racism has been there and is still there.
As much as I strived to be a great leader while in uniform, it was challenging many days to do it. The reality is, the system in charge of order and justice will fight against you just as much as the people arrested do. Listen. It's hard trying to be one of the good ones in uniform. It's hard trying to actually humanize people when most around you want to see them as anything but. It's just hard to do right in a culture that's built all wrong.
What I realized over the cumulative years I stayed in that uniform, working 60+ hours a week (neglecting my personal/spiritual life) is that I cannot bring good to a system that is evil at the root. No matter how many curse words I avoided saying and no matter how many times I tried to avoid use of force incidents, it was never going to be good enough.
So while I do genuinely admire those who are trying to do good in uniform even now in this heated climate, those who are willfully silent about what their counterparts do, (especially when they know what appropriate use of force looks like) are considered equally complicit.
Personally, I didn't want that kind of blood on my hands any longer. So I had to start preparing for where God wanted me to go next in my career...and I soon found out that the direction was away from the uniform. Whew. Talk about following Christ.
That was a hard adjustment physically BUT it was a necessary and peaceful one spiritually. I knew my journey after the Sheriff's Office would be about faith not my feelings though. It had to be.
Check this: I've since lost "friends" who I learned couldn't see me beyond the blue to respect my blackness. I have been judged directly and indirectly by people for leaving behind my career with no "real" plan in place, and I've even been labeled as radically changed. They're right though. I had no real plan and I have radically changed. Both blessed me.
See, God's grace and mercy will do that when you start to truly understand the phrase "obedience is better than sacrifice." So I was quite OK with the disapproval when I resigned, knowing that my purpose is to please God not people (Galatians 1:10) because He alone examines the motives of my heart. My heart. A heart that cares more about the oppression of my Black men (cause I got a son) than working for "the man."
So, let me encourage those who are still in uniform and reading this:
First, know that I love you. I want you to walk in the calling that God has on your life...and if being in that uniform is just that - then work with a good heart as for the Lord and not for man, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. Nothing can trump [pun intended] God's grace toward you. Understand this: You must serve Christ before anything or anyone else. He will protect you as you "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice." So, seek justice always. Love kindness. Walk humbly.
May God's mercy be with you just as it has been with me since the moment in 2016 I decided I didn't want that systemic blood on my hands any longer. I'm praying for you.