The times in my life where I have been at my lowest have been when I have taken ownership of tragic events.
An example of this would be the loss of a friend due to suicide. I experienced feelings of “If I had only…” and then began to blame myself.
The harsh reality of life is that we didn’t start the fire, load the gun, or cause the tragedy.
We leave the situation better than we found it.
It is often difficult when the world views you as the answer to their problems as they hand you a five-week-old child that you cannot resuscitate. I will speak for myself, although I believe it’s commonplace in the fire service, that we often make ourselves accountable for others’ actions.
If Only I Could Have Done More
A child dies, a drunk driver kills a teen in a wrong way accident, a teenager is shot and killed in a drive-by incident, an infant you find unresponsive doesn’t make it and you have to tell the parents. All of these are examples of incidents that began without our involvement; but we become involved in their last moments. Those “last moments” leave marks on our souls and often cause us to cope or self-medicate in unhealthy ways.
As I learn and grow with each passing day, I have come to an understanding with tragedy.
Tragedy Does Not Discriminate
Tragedy affects everyone from our leaders to the workers, from the celebrities to their fans, from the rich to the poor. As a firefighter, we come to know tragedy from a surgical perspective. We size it up, break it down, manage its results, and learn from it. We deal with it very nonchalantly until it reaches into our heart or personal lives.
The great challenge that firefighters face is to be deeply immersed in the painful circumstances of others lives and to come out unscathed by it. The prayer I often pray is “God give me a heart big enough to hurt with them, but don’t let me absorb their pain and inflict it upon others.”
It is my prayer for all firefighters that they come to know the hope of Jesus Christ. For when He lives in your heart, you are able to hurt with the world and not be destroyed by it.
Tragedy Is Conquered
Today marks the day that Jesus, the son of God, conquered death and tragedy. You and I have that same opportunity and it starts with learning about what Jesus did and why He did it.
I encourage you to learn more about this person named Jesus who walked the earth 2000 years ago. I am not talking about religion and rules and what others tell you about Him. I am encouraging you to read His story for yourself. It’s in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible. The version of the Bible I recommend is the NIV or the NLT.
If you have any questions or would like some more information, feel free to email me.