A Servant’s Heart
A servant’s heart puts others first and self last. That’s how it’s always worked and that’s what first responders know. We want to help others and push our own issues down. We brush aside selfish thoughts, thinking we’re second fiddle to our calling in life, our jobs, our families. Why would we focus on our feelings when there’s physical work to do? Houses on fire, car accidents, domestic violence, public disturbance, inmates to move, fights to prevent, emergencies coming in, patients to tend, calls to answer, mothers to calm, patrol, surveillance, safety… the list goes on.
There’s a job to do and everything becomes about the next shift, the next call; it’s our duty. We’re the responsible ones, those who put ourselves aside and care for others. Servants aren’t supposed to serve themselves. Their hearts are on their jobs. This is their responsibility and they’re measured by their ability to hold that responsibility so it has to come first, right? Right?
A Broken Heart
What good is a broken vessel if it can’t hold water? What good is a busted wheel if it can’t move the vehicle? And so, what good is a broken heart if it can’t bear its own load. That heart can’t contain all the weight on its own for long. Every vessel must empty, every wheel must rest, and every heart must mend from time to time. Pulling one’s own weight is enough struggle, but a first responder bears others’ weights and suppresses all else.
Imagine carrying your own backpack to school, but then you pick up your friend’s because he has a broken leg. It’s the right thing to do, right? Then, you see someone struggling under the weight of their backpack and you help by taking on another. You shove your own aside, maybe a few books drop out, and you push on. Another person needs help, and you take on another backpack. Soon enough, it becomes too much. Your own backpack has been neglected and shoved aside, much like a broken heart which has been neglected.
First responders put on a brave face and plow through all their struggles. It’s as if showing a need for help is showing weakness and somehow that looks like shirking responsibility or inadequacy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Admitting weakness is being brave, honest, and hopeful for something better. Yes! Admitting weakness in the moment is being confident in a better future. It’s hope!
As humans, we need hope; we thrive on hope. Wanting better is what leads to invention, innovation, drive to do better for ourselves and others. Hope is the engine of moving forward. Without it we would crumble under the pressure. We would despair, which is the worst of all feelings. We cannot help others when we ourselves are in the midst of despair. And so, we must have hope. But we do have hope, or we wouldn’t bother helping others. A servant’s heart does well to have hope for others. The same servant does best when also hoping for oneself. It’s a together thing. Let’s do this together!