Guest post by: Marc Estes (aka...my hubby!)
Defining moments in your life…
Over the past 10 years, I have been asked so many times why I would want to be in law enforcement when I have another profession outside of law enforcement. Some have said to me “Why risk it?” or “You don’t want those kids to be without a daddy do you?” or “It is selfish to put your wife in a position where she could be a widow”. Those are all valid questions and I have even asked myself those very same questions in the past.
Below is my attempt to try to explain why I have chosen to serve...
The past 10 years has been a platform for growth for me and my family. But, it has only been in the last few years that I have been able to begin to understand what the true plan for my life was all about. I began to realize it after the 9/11 attacks when the President called all Americans to serve. I knew the military was out of the question for me but I still felt an overwhelming urge to serve in some capacity.
My brother was an officer with the local police department and I began to “ride along” with a few of his partners on Friday and Saturday nights. I was lucky to have this experience as the officers I rode with performed their job with the utmost integrity. I distinctly remember one of them telling me “you cannot let the power of this job go to your head. Treat people they way you want to be treated even in ugly situations. Be tough when you need to be tough but you don’t have to be tough all the time”. They showed me the good, the bad and the ugly of serving the streets. It was how they handled themselves in high stress situations that really got to me and I began to realize that law enforcement was how I needed to serve my community.
Becoming an officer is not an easy task, especially for someone that had a family and worked a full time job. The state requirements to become an officer meant enrolling in a police academy, attending class Monday through Friday from 6pm to 10:30pm, for 38 weeks. It was a huge commitment but it was something I knew I had to do. I enrolled in an academy and 38 weeks later and a tough state exam, I was a licensed peace officer. I have taken the opportunity extremely seriously. I wanted to be the best officer on the street, train often, and build upon what those officers taught me while on those “ride a long” nights.
In January 2006, Lesley and I had planned a trip to New York City as it was a place we had never been. During our time in NYC, we wanted to visit Ground Zero. As we arrived in the area, I noticed that the entire Ground Zero site was fenced off with a tall fence. The fence had a thick, dense netting strapped to it. The netting obstructed our view into the site. We tried to peek through the cracks of the fence but still could not see much. As we walked and rounded a corner, I noticed a gate in the fence. A sign on the fence said “Police Officer’s Memorial”. As we walked over to the gate, we noticed a guard on duty. I asked the guard to come to the gate. She explained that it was an area setup to honor officers that had given their lives while trying to save others. During the conversation, I stated that I was an officer from Texas. Upon hearing this, she asked to see my credentials, and then proceeded to invite me and Lesley into the area.
The area overlooked the middle of Ground Zero. There were still piles of rubble, broken sections of steel, concrete that was ripped apart. I could see the subway tracks down below. It was sensory overload to say the least. As I stood on this platform, I could feel a heavy weight on my shoulders. Only a few people have been where I was standing and in an instant I knew that serving others through law enforcement was my calling. I stood there, in awe of what had happen that day. Hundreds of officers rushed into a building to save people they didn’t even know. They disregarded their own safety for someone else and I will never forget that day as long as I live.
Before leaving the area, I left my first badge. I was proud of that badge, what it stood for and what it took to earn the right to wear it but I was even more proud to leave it at this memorial. If those that died that September morning could give their life for a greater cause than themselves, the least I could do was leave something dear to me. The picture above serves as a reminder to me why I chose to serve. It was a defining moment in my life to say the least. One, I will never forget.
In 2010, I had the opportunity to visit the country of Haiti after a devastating earthquake. Haiti was a third world country even before the earthquake. What I witnessed was nothing more than survival of the fittest. The more time I spent in the country, the more I noticed the people grateful for just being alive. Grateful for what little they had, grateful just to be able to eat once a day. I watched a lot of them serve others when they were in desperate need themselves.
I stood in awe of their attitude. They praised God for getting them through each day. I wondered how I would react given the same situation. It became very evident to me that America’s prosperity has given us a false sense of security. Would I be able to survive in such a catastrophe? If I survived, would I have an attitude of praise? Could I serve others if I were the one in desperate need?
I went to Haiti thinking I was going to help someone else, only to discover I was the one that needed the help! I have seen that my perspective on life has drastically changed over the past 10 years. My life is not supposed to be about me, it is supposed to be about others. It took a long time for that concept to become clear to me because we have been subjected to a culture that screams nothing but “ME”. Every advertisement I've seen, every commercial I've watched has a message of “You need this and you need it now”. The concept and purpose of serving others is completely foreign to what living in America has taught me. Don’t get me wrong, I love this country. I just believe we have the cart before the horse and we don’t even realize it. We don't even get what our purpose on this earth really is about.
How would it be today if Jesus had given up due to fear of what was going to happen to him for serving others? Would this country still be "free" if soldiers hadn't fought for us? How many more would have died that Tuesday morning September 11, 2001 had those officers and fireman not rushed into burning buildings? How many more deaths would there have been if the brave guys on flight 93 had not decided to stand up and fight? They all knew the risk…yet each one chose to fight for people they didn't even know.
My answer to the questions I've been asked is that I am just willing to be a pawn in a much bigger plan. This doesn't make me any better than anyone else. It's just the way I choose to live my life.