Things You've Probably Noticed About Your Crazy First Responder Friends

Most people know someone who is a first responder, whether they are an EMT, a firefighter, a police officer... anything in that field. And very likely, you don't see them at events as much as other friends in your circle. Some people get offended at this, some choose to think that "their friend" must not really care to be apart of fun activities... and who knows what else people think.
But I am here to tell you that this is not the case, and to ask you to please not be offended if your FR (first responder) friend (or family) doesn't come to everything they are invited to attend.... or even if they only come to half of what they are invited to attend.
The truth is, the job of a first responder is so crazy. There is no "off on Holidays", or "off on the weekends". And there is a whole lot of unexpected. Every person, family, is different, but every family that loves each other, has one thing in common. When you love someone, you want to spend time together. And that can be hard to do, and its even harder when their are expectations to meet for others. Maybe Daddy wasn't home this past weekend to celebrate Memorial... Mama may, or may not have chosen to go to the family gathering. Maybe she was too worn out because she has been taking care of the kids by herself a lot lately.
Maybe your FR family friends were not able to come to that fun family game night at your church last Friday evening... Daddy worked a long shift and when he got home, his family just wanted to spend some time with him.
You didn't see them in church this past Sunday... you wonder where they were. Some wonder if church really is not that important to them.  But Daddy, or Mommy, had to fill in for someone that morning, or were on call all night, so the family stayed home and had a little devotion time as a family. Or Daddy was on graveyard shift, and mama was up most of the night with the baby, or a toddler with bad dreams, or a child who wanted Daddy, but Daddy wasn't there.
Don't stop inviting them to your functions. Don't assume that church is not important to them. Don't assume they don't care enough to be there.
Instead, call them, or text, or maybe just show up at the door with a meal made, be ready to help give all the little kids a bath, and read them stories, or maybe just clean up the kitchen, and do all the dishes.
If you noticed they were not there for church, don't say, "where were you?" I promise you, they get tired of answering that question. Instead, ask them how their week went. Maybe ask them if their spouse has been working long shifts. Ask them how you can be a help to them.
And honestly, until you prove that you want to be there to help them, no matter what, some will not tell you how you can really help them. They will tell you they are fine and "They've got this" when the truth is, they don't have it all together, they cry because no one seems to care, and they know that you or someone else is probably offended that they didn't show up somewhere.
I am not trying to say that everyone who is not in the FR circle, assumes bad things about us First Responders, or is always offended that we don't show up places, or that you do anything else I wrote. But I read and hear a lot about people saying and thinking these things to and about First Responders. And I have felt this in some ways even though our journey has just recently begun.
We want to be there for our friends. We want to be in church (that is a broad statement but I think you know what I mean) and we enjoy hanging out with our friends.
But family time comes first. It must come first. And we can't plan like many others can. Most of the time, we do not get holidays off.
That might mean, we can't be there for holiday celebrations, it might mean we celebrate some holidays alone, just us. It might mean that instead of coming to a church function, we have a date night, or maybe take the kids to get ice cream, or maybe we just stay home and throw the football in the backyard.
We want to know we are not just a face at church, the person who sits in front of you. We want to know that we matter to you. We want to know if you think about us through out the week, and not just when we don't show up in church. We want to know that we were missed at a gathering because of who we are and what we are able to contribute as your friend. But we also want grace to care for our family the way we see fit. We still want to be invited to your parties, even though you know we might not come. We want to know that you love us, even if you don't understand this crazy life. We want to know that someone will be willing to give up some free time and help a mama out who feels like she is parenting alone half the time.
And even though I have addressed this to friends, we ask the same of our extended families. We love all of you, friends and family. Our lifestyle looks different, but that doesn't mean we care about you less.

(All the times I have said "we" up until this point, have been referring to First Responders in general.)

Adam and I have had an especially tough Winter and Spring... Adam has been in Police Academy for 5 months now, and he has been working a job as well.
He is working 40 hours a week and taking the night classes. His school is an hour away from us and his work is almost that far. This means that between all the driving, and working and classes, he has the equivalent to a 80 hour work week. This also means he never has a full day off... just half a day, once a week, and he gets home very late most nights.
This has been very hard on us, and honestly there are days when we don't see how we can finish this.
But God is gracious and continues to give us the grace we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And for those of you who think my life is so easy, staying at home while Adam is gone, well... that's another post for another time;)

Also, one last note: I do not know too much about the life of military family, but I know enough to say, much of this is true, just a different schedule. Lonely, stressed out, overly tired mamas, couples who need time with each other and haven't had it in maybe months... the lifestyle is not exactly the same, but the emotions, challenges, and misunderstandings are often similar.

So if you know a military or First Responder family, show them some love. Take that mama out, and get her a babysitter. Take that wife out and have some fun with her. Make them a meal, and maybe offer to run and errand for him/her. Offer to watch the kids so Dad and Mom can have a date night. Maybe see if Dad wants to do something fun with you (if you are a guy friend.) Or maybe just call them when they didn't show up to church or a function, and let them know they were missed and they are loved. Staying in touch is not just important for the women, the guys need a loving friend too! Do not underestimate the power of a phonecall, even if you have to leave a voicemail.  And lastely don't make them feel like they need to explain away their absence.

I know this was a little long, but thanks for taking the time to read this. Blessings to you if you have chosen to try to understand and minister to the families who have chosen to put their lives out there, so the nation can be safe.

Yesterday, Adam did not get off Memorial Day, but he did get off work around 3pm, so we went to a nearby spring and hung out and had dinner before heading back home:)

Until Next Time,
Elise Hall


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