• Jonathan E. Hickory

If I had chosen suicide, would my department have given me full honors?  Would my body have received a full motorcade with my brother officers riding proudly on their freshly detailed Harley Davidson motorcycles, the blinding brilliance of blue lights piercing the night?  Would they have lined up on the streets to pay their respects?  Would my comrades have saluted, standing tall as the cold, dark casket passed them by?  Would the crowd have jumped at the first sound of gunfire as the volleys of unified blasts rang through the air?

What would they say about me at the graveside?

“Everything seemed to be fine…”

“He was just awarded officer of the year last year…”

“He smiled and laughed…”

“I had no idea what he was facing…”

“Doesn’t surprise me that he checked out…”

If I had chosen suicide, would anyone have cared?  I had already decided my life was over anyway.  Would my wife have grieved my death?  She and I were barely speaking.  I know it was my fault, I hurt her so badly, and I’ve done so many unspeakable things.  Would my five year old daughter have been able to flourish and grow as she carried the unexplained death of her daddy?  Would my friends have been devastated, plagued by survivor’s guilt, wishing they had recognized the signs of someone who was a high risk for suicide?

“I’m praying for the family..”

“How will they survive without his income..”

“I know he was hurting but I never thought…”

“He was drinking a lot more heavily…”

If I had chosen suicide, would anyone have done anything about it?  Would they have named a street or dedicated a park in memory of me?  Would they have retired my badge number— to honor me, or would it have been to prevent another officer from being shrouded by the shame?  Would they have begun to consider taking peer support and mental health more seriously?  Or would they continue to cloak their own thoughts in shadows and make fun of officers who are hurting?

“I heard he was messing around with…”

“I heard he got pulled over and he was drunk, and still in his uniform…”

“I heard he got suspended for blowing up in roll call…”

“I told him I refused to talk to him, after what he did…”

If I had chosen suicide, would I have gone to Heaven? I believe at that moment, I would have burned in Hell forever. I know I never would have come to know the God who I believe created me and loves me as His child.

If I had given up and chosen suicide, I never would have seen my marriage restored, I never would have been able to give up alcohol forever.  I never would have seen the birth of my son. I never would have been able to completely heal from depression, post-traumatic stress, and endless sadness.

If I had chosen suicide and killed myself, I never would have given myself the chance to get the help that I so desperately needed.  I never would have been able to lift up in prayer, and reach out with hope, to my hurting brothers and sisters in blue as they encounter the darkness and struggle to not succumb to the demons.

It takes a strong person, a true warrior, to daily face and battle the hell of this world as a police officer.   It takes reaching deep to realize that you’re hurting, that you’re no longer that same person you were when you took the oath to protect and to serve.  Warriors reach out to get help to win the battle.  Warriors choose help to win the war within.

Warrior, get help.  I’m so thankful I did.

Image: Law Officer Magazine

  • Jonathan E. Hickory

My beloved son turns two years old in a few days. Lately, he loves to play a game with me where he will run tirelessly through the endless grass in our backyard, looking back to see if I am running after him. He has no direction, he has no destination, but he knows he is running from me. To his delight, I pursue him, his little legs moving as fast as they can while my pace remains even, steady, and unwavering.

“Chase me, Daddy! Chase me!” he giggles with glee as his blonde hair reflects the warm sunlight. As he looks backwards, sometimes he stumbles and sometimes he tumbles, only to have me leap on top of him and sweep him up into my arms, embracing him with unsurpassable joy and endless love. We laugh together and I find myself overjoyed to share in his laughter and wonder.

How often do we, as children of God, run from our Heavenly Father? How often do we pursue worldly things—money, family, success, prideful ambitions, lust, greed, addictions—instead of pursuing our Creator? Though we do not realize it, as we pursue these things as a priority over our faith, we wander and we wonder, as God continues to lovingly pursue our hearts.

How can we begin to understand this pursuit? Why would God waste His time with a heart that is not only pursuing worldly meaninglessness, but often times running from Him at the same time? Let’s take a moment to explore God’s desire for His children.

You are created in God’s image — YOU are one of God’s children! “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” -Genesis 1:27

Just as we love our children, God loves His children dearly and He desperately wants a close relationship with you. Jesus said, “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” -Matthew 18:12-14

Our vulnerable young children trust their parents and they seek their father for protection from the dark and the dangers of the world — the nightmare, the vicious snarling dog, and crossing the busy street safely. God wants you to trust fully in Him and seek Him for protection from evil. “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” -Psalm 121:6-7

Our children rely on us for provision of food, clothing, and shelter. God wants you to trust in Him for provision; He will faithfully provide for you! Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:29-31

Our children need and love their father, desiring relationship with him, just as you need Jesus in your heart in order to seek a genuine relationship with God. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” -Jeremiah 29:13

Just as we want the very best for our children, yet know the value of discipline, God wants the very best for His children, and will lovingly discipline when needed. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:5-11

Have you ever thought about your relationship with God in this way? Your relationship with God is not a friendship, it is not a mutually beneficial business relationship, and it is not an arrangement where you get to call the shots — you are a child of our Sovereign God and you are created in His image. He is a good Father and He wants what is best for His children — that’s you and me! But a good and loving Father will also lovingly pursue and discipline the wayward child.

Reflection God’s pursuit of our hearts is something I am incredibly grateful for. If God had not pursued you, where would you be right now? Have you ever looked back on the hard times in your life, the times before you were walking with the Lord—and realized how He was chasing after you, yearning to sweep you into His arms and embrace you? Are you walking with God, and is He convicting your heart to draw you closer to Him? Or are you still running from Him? If you are not seeking God every day with every facet of your life, you better believe He is pursuing you. If you once were one of His lost sheep and the Good Shepherd found you, praise Him today and forevermore!

Prayer Almighty Father, You are our Good Father, and I am grateful for your pursuit of my heart. Lord, guide my path and help me to seek you first in all that I do, in all that I am. Thank you for loving me as your child, created in your holy image.

This post was originally written by author Jonathan E. Hickory for The Point Church in Charlottesville, Virginia.


©2020 by Jonathan Hickory