The Affair You Never Saw Coming:
Imagine if you will, a happily married couple whose husband is a firefighter. Their marriage is great and they work together to balance the issues that fire families face but then one day something happens. The husband begins to change. He begins to be drawn into his work more and more. He is consumed by it, constantly studying, training, and attending conferences. He is always gone either on duty at the station or teaching at the local college. Slowly, the family begins to fade as his passion becomes more important than the very ones he swore before God to love and protect.
This mistress, this affair, is like none other. For if it was a person, his wife could possibly see it coming. Yet this affair began with the drive to be a better firefighter so he could come home safe. So he was encouraged and supported by his wife and children to become better, smarter, and more skilled. The inherent danger of this trap that he never saw coming was the demon of pride. Not the pride that firefighters cherish were we take our craft seriously and honor the calling upon our hearts. This is a selfish pride that slowly sneaks in and begins as a fire does with one small spark.
With each success, the firefighter begins to believe his own rhetoric…
With each certification, he becomes more of what others believe he is..
With each conference and speech, his recognition grows…
Yet all the while, his family is slowly dying…
He misses yet another ball game, another dance recital, and another anniversary all in the name of the jealous mistress known as the fire service…
He arrives home one night, only to find an empty house. No furniture, No family, nothing but a note that reads:
We used to be important to you. We supported you to chase your dream in the hopes that you would always come home. But somewhere along the way you became lost and never came home. The desire to become the greatest firefighter overrode the desire to be a better husband and father. So we bid you farewell, go and become that which you long for and no that no one will hold you back. Signed, your heartbroken wife and children. The lives you save out there will never make up for the lives you watched slowly die around you and did nothing to save.
He falls to his knees, broken and contrite crying out to God but it’s too late…
This story is fictional, but sadly it has elements of truth. The fire service today suffers divorce at a rate much higher than the general population. The irony in our lives is that we who have taken an oath to save lives and property often become lost and fail to protect our families lives and lose all of our own property in the process.
If this story has impacted you, if it has touched your heart, or it has happened to you; don’t let this be the end of a sad novel. Let this be the beginning where you allow God to make beauty out of your ashes. As after a fire, the work begins to rebuild and begin anew. Their is hope for us all no matter where we are in our journey. There are those who will help and lift you up as you rebuild or reconcile the broken relationships in your lives. My prayer for us all is to remember that the oath we took upon becoming a firefighter should never supersede the oath of being a loving husband and father. Let us not let our lives burn down around us while we save everyone else. May we save our families today by showing them that they matter! Be the best firefighter you can be but always be the best husband and or father first so that you never find yourself as the one in this story.
May our great love for the fire service always be out of our greater love for our families. For everyone goes home but will our families be there?
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries