Darkness closing in…

Many people, it seems, have problems with depression and fear. You hear about suicides among Veterans and police and other service people like EMT’s and firefighters. Why does this happen? Is it because of the jobs that they have and the things which they see on a daily basis? In part, that is it. I worked as an EMT/Firefighter for a total of ten years. Not very long I know, but the things that I saw and the people that you come into contact with will bring you down. You can’t let it get to you while you are on the job so you learn to compartmentalize it and just push it away until the job is done. But…when the shift is over and you go home, that is when the enormity of your feelings about what you saw and had to deal with comes crashing down.

I’ve never really talked about this to anyone and it has been almost thirty years since I got out of being an EMT/Firefighter. But from what I understand the trauma and the stress that I experienced during those years never really goes away. For years I would still have dreams about my old job and wake up sweating in the night for no apparent reason. I could hear, in my mind, the siren from the ambulance or the fire truck even when there wasn’t one around. The different types of death from suicide and murder and car accidents and fire…you never forget them entirely. Some days it comes back so hard until I just feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. But even if I do, these images never go away.

The worst part of this is that you can’t sit and talk to someone about this. Nobody would understand unless you could sit and talk with another person who worked with you in the same type of service. Even then, they really don’t want to relive it either so usually you both just stop talking and change the subject or get a beer or something. Since I am a pastor now I have to shove these things away from my life and my work because nobody in the congregation would understand either. I have never talked about this with my family either just because it is something that they wouldn’t understand.

This is the reason that I am writing it here. As a bit of therapy for myself and to let others know that we feel deeply about what we have experienced. So deeply that even after thirty years it still comes back to haunt our minds and our feelings. Even now my heart is picking up speed just writing this.

I know that God can and will get me through this because He has done so in the past. I am asking all of you who read this to please sit with someone who works in a service job like I’ve mentioned. Just talk to them about anything or nothing. If they like to fish, take them fishing. But be there for them if you can. Because we have days which most people cannot understand and feelings which are hard to express. Please pray for me today and if you know anyone who was in the military or police or fire service, pray for them too. The suicide rate for them is much higher than for the rest of the population.

Psalm 51 is a good read for days like this.

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

(2 Samuel 12:1-12)

1{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.} Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.King James Bible

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