Feeling Obscure After Public Service?: It's Good for Your Soul

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

I’m an extrovert by nature, so I relished being in the public. Wearing a uniform and operating within that golden halo was not only fulfilling, it was intoxicating. I was ready for retirement and unlike so many other chiefs of police, I was able to plan out my departure date on good terms with the mayor and council.

I’d prayed over the decision and was certain God had called me to leave one service for another – His. Certainly if God called me out of such an important position as chief, He had even bigger plans for me. Right?

So I got comfortable and waited for the fruits of my law enforcement labor to roll in. Instead things got dark, and life grew dry. It was the little, insignificant things that started to bug me, like when no one slowed down or came to complete stop even though I was in my vehicle. It was my POV, but still, I’d spent decades watching people tighten up their behavior even when I drove by heading to the grocery store.

Then, it happened in restaurants. Where it once took 30 minutes to walk through while stopping to shake hands, now I couldn’t get a seat at Chick Fila. Soon, no one called me chief. Actually, as my cell phone sat still on the table, no one called at all. No late night SWAT activations, angry mayor or long time informant. It was just silent.

Over the next year, I slipped into a season of darkness as I realized that who I was had been rooted in what I did. At 50 years old, I had no idea who I was. The shield that once held the PTSD in hiding was no longer there as a crutch. The addictions that were overlooked because doing the job was stressful were no longer excused. The need to be needed was no longer in need. I’d become obscure. Too many of our brothers and sisters begin hitting the bottle harder than they used to and far too many finally pulled the trigger whether or not they meant to.

Seasons of obscurity can be lonely and lead us into feeling despair over the life and career lost (even earned retirement). The truth is, obscurity is not meant to punish us. They are times of transition from the old to the upcoming. The amount of time spent in those seasons depend on what is in store for you.

Let's take the Israelites who wandered the wilderness for 40 years. The people were heading into a promised land, but first they had to break off the old habits, pains, shames and addictions otherwise where they were going would be no more special than where they’d escaped.

Also, that season was a transformational period where they also developed new skills, beliefs and disciplines that would be needed in a new land with new opportunities. Now the truth is not everyone who wandered in the wilderness was able to enter the Promised Land. Why? Because some of us get lost in the season of obscurity and fail to gain the new you that’s required, or sadly, some just give up.

None of us swore the oath and headed out the same day to solve homicides. We had to enter into a season of obscurity through the training academy, FTO, rookie year, slow promotional processes all while we gained new experiences and abilities to handle the harder tasks and high-risk missions. 

It requires faith, patience and positivity. If you feel alone, don’t run back to the cops on your old squad. They are in a very different season than you are, and you might feel the sting of rejection. Instead, learn the new skill of meeting new friends without introducing yourself as a cop. It’s harder than you might imagine.

It will get better. Just like your early days of aching to talk over the radio, your time will come when the season changes. When will they change? When you stop wishing you were back on the job, and start looking forward to what new life lies ahead. The big ticket items about obscurity are:

1.   It is not punishment from God.

2.  You are not alone.

3.  Obscurity is a time for breaking off old, destructive habits.

4.  Obscurity is meant to equip you with life skills you do not currently have.

5.   Obscurity means you’ve left one season of life and are on the cusp of another one.

6.  Remain open hearted and attentive to faith during your darkest hours.

7.  Your season of obscurity may come in a flash or over time. Be watchful.

8.  While people appreciate your past service, it’s not what they want to build relationships upon. It’s you who they value. 

9.  Do not give in and do not give up.

10. A better season of life is just around the corner.

Let's connect to discuss where you are in your faith walk. Make sure to comment below with prayer requests.

We Love You,

Scott & Leah

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