Psalm 46:10 is kind where my life is right now. Yes, I know we’re not all Christians here, and although I myself am a Police Chaplain, I’m super pumped that we’re not…’cause how boring would that be?
Even if you’re not Christian, you probably know the verse.
Be still and know that I am God.
My ENTIRE life I have never been still. Never. I am a textbook first born. Like, Google search that shit, my picture is probs your top hit. Fear of losing control, a high burden of responsibility, inability to relax and have fun, difficulties with intimacy...blah blah blah. Yup, it WAS all me.
However, I have been in and out of therapy since my early 20’s, so *mostly* I say I am recovering from those labels and strongholds. It took nearly all of my 20’s falling on my face 2,874 times to figure this out. I couldn’t be still because, by God I need to prove myself, I need to be perfect and I need to do all the things “they” say I should to prove to “them” I am ok.
Ah, except who the are they, and why do I care? Well, I did. 36 year old Brooke now knows that was silly. Anyways, stillness. I didn’t know it.
I had the same boyfriend I met when I was 14, I graduated and I went to college. I graduated college with honors, got engaged, got married, then moved in with my husband because *gasp* God forbid I threaten the sanctity of marriage and do it before he put a ring on it. That’s certainly not perfect and I HAVE to be perfect.
Next, I got a lovely job, bought a lovely house in a little suburb of Minneapolis, got a lovely little graduate degree, and I was doing it all “right.”
But wait. I’m now like in my late 20’s, “have it all,” and am grossly underwhelmed.
Not only that, but I am a damn fraud.
I am a therapist now, and I don’t like any of this.
Which, leads me back to my faith. God, plain as day said, “Well sweet cheeks, I’ve been telling you for some time that you are mine, and that’s where you get your value. You teach that so beautifully to others, but you STILL get all your value from what you can accomplish, what you can do and from being perfect.”
Ah, yeah God, I’m aware.
As long as we’re Google searching what makes Brooke, you’ll also find stubbornness a bit further down in the search results. I may be one of the most self aware crazy people, but willingly doing what is best for me is the last thing I’d ever done until this point.
So...because He always asks nicely before He does what He’s gotta do anyways, I feel like I left God no other choice but to hand me the storm He knew I needed.
From about 2010 - 2013, I lost it all.
I started to decline in my passion for my job, and the grip of control that I needed to have in every area of my life started to slip. Our marriage started to struggle to the point where we just became roommates sleeping in the same bed together. We ran a home together, talked about when the electricity payment needed to be made, and who last let the dog out.
We both broke our vows in different ways. It got to the point where he was offered a job in a different city, many hours away and I said “Peace out dude, good luck to ya. I ain't followin’ ya.” And he left. We ended up putting our house on the market and it sold very quickly.
During this time I floated for two to three years, getting places with friends, living with my dad and step-mom while I helped take care of her in hospice and sometimes slept where my feet landed.
God continually told me “Brooke, you are not your marriage.” And I said, " I sure am." He said, “Ok, well then, I’ll take that please.”
He told me “Brooke, you are not this beautiful house.” And I said “Oh, you’re funny, this house is so lovely, it proves I can do all the things. It proves I can do things of value!” And He was like “Ok...yeah, I’ll take that too. Thanks.”
He told me "Brooke, you’re not...you’re not...you’re not..." and I just kept telling Him how wrong He was.
Until it was Christmas 2012 and I had nothing. Nothing but Him. I was lonely, depressed, and lost. I had lost who I was. Or maybe the reality was that I don’t think I ever knew.
I remember being at my mom’s house, trying to put on my makeup before family got there for the festivities, I didn’t even know where my husband was at this time because we were so seperated, and I couldn’t stop crying. I sat on the toilet (lid down) and just looked up at my mom with a look like I was back to being her little girl and with tears streaming down my face like a faucet I said “Mom, what happened?” She just held me.
I can’t exactly say what piece saved me, or what saved us. I started to actually listen when God told me that I didn’t need to DO anything to BE of value, that He had already done a marvelous work in me, and that was it. There was no need to prove that I was worthy of Him loving me, because He already did. It seems so odd to me now. Why did I need to go through all of that to get the idea that I am valuable? Even with my highly educated brain, I do not know, but I did. I slowly started to see the light.
I started slowly reaching out to my husband and straight up asked him one night “Why haven’t we gotten divorced yet?” He wasn’t sure. He’d been at his “new” job for two to three years now, and not a single one of his partners had ever met me. They joked that they thought I didn't exist and they sure as heck didn’t understand why he was sticking around.
Both of us, at different times, wanted a divorce. But apparently never at the same time. He would be ready to throw in the towel. But let’s be real...he didn’t have a wife around...so he couldn’t find the towel when it was time to throw it.
We still weren’t living together. But he started to come down to the Twin Cities where I lived at the time, and we spent time together. There was still zero intimacy and we were slowly building our friendship back, along with attending counseling. I was trying to figure out what 14 year old Brooke ever saw in this dude.
He knew my mind was in a really dark place, and he didn’t really get it, but he stuck around for every last second of the walk through it.
There were days that I just laid in bed and cried and cried and cried in his arms. I didn’t and don’t still clearly know why. Just letting out all the “stuff” is the best way to describe it. Letting go of over 25+ years of needing to do and be “perfect.” He just laid there, running his hands through my hair, kissing my forehead, not asking a single question or telling me to stop. He simply let me be sad, and scared, and broken.
After months and months and months of that, we got to the point around Easter 2013 when I went up to see him in his new apartment, with my mom and sister. Because, Jesus, I couldn’t go see him alone. That clearly would have been weird since we’d been married for like 10 years by then.
I remember that trip so vividly, I saw HIM. Like, I saw him as a man. Not the boy I once knew. But a man, just doing what he knew in his heart to be right, and faithfully sticking by his wife through the muck despite her best efforts to tell him to go pound sand. He shared his new life with us. Proud doesn’t even come close to describe what I felt. He was pushing on, doing all the things and just waiting. How did he know I’d ever return? He didn’t, but it was worth the wait to him.
Have you heard the song by Blake Shelton called Austin?
“She left without leaving her number, she said she needed to clear her mind. He figured she’d gone back to Austin cause she talked about it all the time. It was almost a year before she called him up…” “If you’re calling ‘bout my heart it’s still yours I should have listened to it a little more, then it wouldn’t have taken me so long to know where I belong.”
That song is him.
Around November 2013, we knew we were working towards us doing this marriage thing again. We still had not been intimate again yet. (Yes, for real.) We started talking about me moving up to Duluth, about us having kids, and dreaming about our life together.
(Photo credit: Tiffany Lynn Photography)
If you know my hubs, he’s VERY black and white. He said to me, “But, like, if we’re going to do all that, we will need to have sex.” LOL, touche’! We were going to take things slowly and see where all of that business took us. Apparently, we must've skipped out on health class one time too many. I guess when two adults decide to have sex a time or two, science happens. And what do ya know? I got pregnant!
It was totally welcome and a complete miracle: I found out I was pregnant on December 25, 2013. One year later, to the day, that I sat in front of my momma more broken than I had ever been before.
(Photo credit: Tiffany Lynn Photography)
We eventually found a house in Duluth, had our baby, and I’ve (for the most part) been a SAHM since. We bought a 100 year old farmhouse that we affectionately call our “Little Miss Farmhouse,” because as you’ve come to realize, I’m a slow learner. The notion of birth control is apparently foreign to me and we have three little ladies, age four and under. And I'm serving as the President of this lovely little organization called Backing the Blue Line where we try to make this (insert your favorite adjective here ____) law enforcement life we live a bit brighter.
We still ride the struggle bus some days. But after the storm we’ve been through, I never wonder how it will end. I truly believe that we’re stronger today than ever would have been possible if we hadn't gone through what we did. To this day, I have yet to meet a couple who also hasn't weathered a storm or two together. Those who have come out on the other side intact all seem to have one thing in common...they didn’t quit. It seems obvious, but I believe with my whole heart that is what saved us and our marriage. He never quit fighting the storm.
Our officers are trained to go through the battle and to never quit. It’s time we do the same in our relationships.
No matter where you are, whether it seems as though there’s no chance of rain or you’re sitting in the aftermath of a category five hurricane, I encourage you to fight. Fight for yourself, fight for each other and fight for what brought you together in the first place. Maybe it won't bring you back together in the end, but at least you know that you gave it everything you had.
So how do we fight for it? How do we dig in and not quit when we lose hope in ourselves, our partners and our marriage? I believe that the upcoming “Bulletproof Your Relationship” retreat hosted by Backing the Blue Line will give us exactly what we need.
If you are a woman who is married or in a long term committed relationship with a male or female Minnesota law enforcement officer, you will have a chance to arm yourself with great tools at the upcoming 2019 "Bulletproofing Your Relationship." Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so you don't miss out when tickets go on sale!
About the writer: Brooke LeClaire is the current President of Backing the Blue Line. She has been with her LEO for 21 years and they have been married for 13 of those years. She is also a mother, Law Enforcement Chaplain, therapist and leader. A self-identified cheap wine drinking, potty mouthed lover of Jesus, Brooke leads the Minnesota LEOW community with heart, soul and a sprinkling of sass.
If you are married to a MN law enforcement officer or in a committed, long term relationship with one, we invite you to become a member of Backing the Blue Line.