- By Lt. Tim McMillan
Dear Lord! Wait...What Just Happened?!?
“Fuck This!” That is exactly what I said.
I didn’t say, “F*** This,” “F#$% This,” or “Freak This.”
No, I said very definitively and explicitly, “Fuck This.”
Look, I assume most reading this are adults, and if we are all being honest, we have all said, “Fuck This” at least once in our lifetime. Most of us have probably said it several times this week. Maybe even a few of us have said it today. Essentially, the random utterance of “Fuck This” most often wouldn’t even make it into most of our collective memory banks and frankly wouldn’t have any significance other than in the exact moment we said it.
However, this particular “Fuck This” was little more significant than the moment you realized buying a Fitbit maybe wasn’t the wisest investment and you are sick and tired of counting your steps.
In fact, my “Fuck This” was not even close to being relatively contained to just myself. Rather, “Fuck This” was delightfully shared by myself using the King’s English, openly and for the entire world to see, on my Facebook page. At the time my rationale was no different than any other time a person has reached the breaking point of articulate speech and instead resorted to expletives to effectively convey their tone and mood.
Make no mistake, the tone and mood were genuine. The timing and even the audience in which I expressed it… was not.
To make a long story short, in this particular instance my “Fuck This” was in response to a relatively minor critique over something I had previously shared. Truly, I cannot stress enough just how minor the critique was. However, in that instance, it wasn’t the constructive criticism that was the dependent variable of my frustration. The previous commenter was not even remotely deserving of such a blunt and contentious response.
However, in that moment, none of that particularly mattered. Essentially, even constructive criticism felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Honestly, my “Fuck This” wasn’t even directed at the person I said it to. Rather, it was an overarching expression I had reached the point where I was done publicly, writing, speaking, or engaging anyone in any attempts at making the world a better place.
In that moment… on that day… I WAS DONE!
That day was Tuesday, August 29, 2017. Yes… indeed, two days ago.
The truth was the past Tuesday was a tipping point or an accumulation of what has at times felt like daunting and never-ending stress over the past few months.
The strain of my wife being out of work after my daughter was born for six months last year and having to live off of one income had finally caught up to us. Basically, by this summer… well, financially things have kind of sucked.
Additionally, two months ago my 16-year-old son moved down from Maryland to live with us. Which, I want to make sure I’m sure under no uncertain terms has been a blessing. He has lived in Maryland since he was 3-years-old. However, it still is a big leap to suddenly become a primary parent to a 16-year-old, when you didn’t even get all of the middle years to grow up together on.
Of course, then a group of police officers across the country thought it would be a fantastic time to wage an entire organized cyber war on me. Even included a delightful meme contest of who could make the best visceral or hateful memes of me. Delightfully, witty bunch police officers are. There were a couple of fallacious and defaming blog post and Lord only knows what else.
Not to mention, my obligation to my officers, agency, and citizens as a police Lieutenant is one that I take very seriously. Secondly, only behind that of being a husband and father.
Of course, as many within the profession will attest, often times in law enforcement your professional responsibilities negatively bleed into your abilities in a family role. Specifically, I am now coming up on year five of working permanent night shifts. My wife and I have five-and-three-year old sons and a one-year old daughter. Therefore, the realization that five years of nights has caused me to miss many things in my kids' lives begins to be a tough pill to swallow. Honestly, it makes you consider if selling insurance or working at Title Max isn’t more worth it in the long run.
Basically, this past Tuesday, August 29, 2017, was an over accumulation of a lot of stress, that finally made me reach the point of saying, “Fuck This!”
Now, I truly hope that anyone who reads this understands, I by no means feel like my personal stress is somehow more significant or even different than any one of us in this world. The truth is we all go through times where it feels like we work hard to be good people and yet it still feels like we keep slipping down a muddy slope and can’t seem to get up. Most importantly, it isn’t like I’m not more than aware that there are a whole lot of people in this world who have it far worse than me. In fact, it is helping others above myself is what has ultimately made me ignore the existence of my own stress.
That Tuesday night, I found myself outside, looking up at the sky and saying, “What the hell!”
“Look! Seriously… what the hell! I mean I’m by no means perfect, but what kind of cruel prank is this?!? You give opportunities to try to make a small differences, and man, I really try, ok. I try! I’m not mad, because I’m sure there is a reason, but come on dude! Just a little help here sure would be nice. Seriously, I'm shutting my page down. It's not worth the added stress! I can't handle it right now. Someone else can take it over, not me! There are people who can do better than me anyway I'm sure.”
After my bitch session with God, I headed back to my office to get ready to go home early, because I had a class to teach the next morning. As I sat at my desk, I scrolled through my own Facebook page’s feed, checking out the comments on my post about that morning about the controversy involving Joel Osteen and his church not sheltering people during the tragic flooding ravishing Houston right now. I thumbed through the comments seeing the divergent views of Mr. Osteen and his virtuousness or lack thereof.
I went through the various messages I received throughout the day. I noticed someone had very respectfully asked me to delete the thread on Joel Osteen, because of the unwarranted negatively he had been receiving.
Now this person was extremely respectful and I had no contention with their request. However, Good Lord! I never said anything bad about the man when I shared the story. I merely said that truth would come out (good or bad) and that I would hope anyone, especially a church would come to the aid of others in their time of need.
I sat there and wondered, who the heck is this Joel Osteen. I mean don’t get me wrong, I know his name and a general idea of what he does. However, truthfully, I had never even heard him speak in my entire life.
I couldn’t contain my curiosity over why one mega church preacher would cause such a stir. So I headed on over to the world’s primary source for information in times like this.
I went to YouTube.
After typing his name into the search box, I went back to I thumbing through comments and posts on my page. Suddenly, coming from my desktop speakers, I heard the distinctive twang of a Southern accent.
“Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the strength to go on? Or maybe you feel like the task at hand is just so difficult and why in the world are you doing it?”
You know the scene in a horror film when a person slowly looks up with an expression of shock, disbelief, and confusion? Yeah… that look. That was exactly how I slowly looked up at my computer screen.
On the screen, indeed was an Osteen. However, it wasn’t Joel Osteen. It was his wife, Victoria.
Now mind you, I typed in Joel in the search bar. Additionally, I had yet to even click on a video to watch. However, right there, standing on stage in front of a large rotating golden globe was Victoria Osteen.
“Or Maybe you’ve been put in a job or promotion, where it looks like ‘Wow I don’t know if I have the talent and ability to be able to handle what I need to handle.’ Sometimes we want to look at the very end and figure out how are we going to get there. But God is saying just look at today. Everything you need is here for today.”
I sat there transfixed as the camera panned around what appeared to be the largest crowd I had ever seen in all of human history, accentuated by the hue of blue ambient lighting.
“I’m up here today and the truth is there is a lot of people out here that could do a better job than me. So I really could just stay in that seat, and I tell you sometimes I want to. But the truth is that God put me up here. So I just have to embrace it.”
Squinting my eyes, lowering my eyebrows, I sat there completely bewildered.
I thought … “No? Nooo…seriously?”
“Don’t give up. Don’t release what you have in your hand because you’re afraid.”
As I glanced down at my phone in my hand, noticing that my Facebook page was still on the screen. “Noooo…Really?”
For 10:22 minutes sat there and listened to Victoria Osteen's speech. As soon as the video ended, I sat silently in my office, not even moving, eyes darting all around my office. I was trying to process the fact, that I had intended to hear what all the craze was about with Joel Osteen. Yet, inexplicitly I had just listened to his wife give a 10-minute sermon that seemed to speak directly to me.
I began to ponder; indeed, this was the only Osteen sermon I’d ever heard before in my life. However, I didn’t understand why many people take so much contention with him if indeed the bulk of what comes out of the Lakewood Church sounded like what I just heard. Granted, it sounded like a 70/30 mix of motivational speaking and religious thought. However, nothing I heard was harmful. Conversely, it was ironic and poetically perfect for me at that exact moment. Truthfully, I could see some elements that resembled a modern and simplified form of Kubblah, the Jewish esoteric school of thought I had grown up on.
The contemplation of what I had just encountered was suddenly interrupted by the distinct “ding” of my iPhone. I had a new Facebook notification. As I opened it up, my discovered my sense of understanding would only be further confounded.
“If people aren't griping then what you're doing isn't working. I very much appreciate what you're doing Lt. Tim McMillan and I see the comments you get from both sides and can understand how stressed out you can become in trying to explain things. Whether or not you agree with what I said, I do have respect for you and what you do from being a police officer to someone who's bringing people together.”
That was the response from the person, that an hour or so ago, I had been such an asshole too and said, “Fuck This.”
I’m not even trying to make light of our interaction. I was a total jerk. I said more than just “Fuck This” and my response or respect towards this woman was in no way warranted. Yet… inexplicitly, she had responded to me with compassion and words of kindness! She had every reason to tell me what a total asshole I was, but instead, she chose to reach out to me with compassion and kindness. Not just compassion, but respect and appreciation! She told me that she respected me and even expressed she understood I could become over stressed at times.
I stared at my phone reading her comment again, then looked up at my computer screen, a part of me wondered if Joel and Victoria Osteen were going to suddenly emerge from my monitor as if I was currently living in a scene from the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
I took a brief moment to process everything and then I typed back a response to a person who demonstrated they clearly a better person than me. The person who gave me the greatest gift one could possibly offer a person. Kindness in a moment that they needed it the most. I apologized profusely and explained that indeed stress was a huge factor in my behavior. However, that in no way absolves me of being a jerk.
As I walked to the parking lot and to my car to head home that night, I looked up at the sky, shook my head and said, “Really?”
“There is a lot of things in this world that I have no clue why they happen or why they exist. I don’t understand why people are having to suffer tragedy in Houston right now. I don’t understand why people are having to suffer all across this world. I don’t know why I recently found out that a good friend of mine’s close friend just lost their twins at birth. Hell, I don’t understand why you allowed the movie Shazam starring Shaquille O’Neal to ever be made.”
“I don’t understand why you used Victoria Osteen to tell me to stop being a complainer and just worry about being the best I can be for today. Basically, there is a whole lot I truly don’t understand. However, I guess that’s the point huh? You never told Abraham to go to a specific place, at this specific time, or that he would be doing any specific thing. Instead, you just said, “Go,” and Abraham went.”
Ultimately, I ended up learning a lot this past Tuesday night. I learned, that sometimes I can’t just pretend like there aren’t times in my own life that feel inundated with stress. Basically, just acknowledging, “Hey this sucks. I’m stressed,” was almost a release in and of itself.
I also learned that it’s ok to get mad and tell God you're frustrated with the way things are going in your life right now. To say, there is only so much you can do by yourself and sometimes you could use a little help. Sometimes if you do that, you might just get an answer. Then it’s just up to you to do the most important part, which is open up your eyes and ears and be willing to listen.
Tuesday night I was reminded of when Moses encountered God as a burning bush in the Torah. Most adherents of the Abrahamic religions don’t put emphasis on the exchange that is described between God and Moses during this event. Most people fail to recall that Moses tried everything he could to talk God out of making him go free the Hebrews. Exasperated at the fact that God was not having any of his excuses, Moses finally tells God the Hebrews won’t believe him and what will he even say to them when they ask what is God’s name?
God’s reply, in my opinion, is the most profound and meaningful verse that can be found throughout the entire collection of biblical texts. God said, אהיה אשר אהיה״. ” In English that most closely translates to “I will be what I will be.”
The point is in life one can get messages from anywhere and isn’t necessarily the messenger that is important. Rather, what is significant is the message that one receives.
In fact, the Hebrew word for Angel is מלאך, which in Hebrew actually means “messenger.”
Basically, anyone or anything can be a potential messenger or angel. We all just have to be willing to receive. Additionally, when people are jerks or don’t deserve any kindness, sometimes kindness is actually exactly what they need. So maybe if you are able to offer compassion, when someone is in need, unbeknownst to you; you actually might be an angel in that moment. In essence, we all might be angels all the time and we never even realize it.