Eventually the fat, stupid kid had to grow up, so it should be no surprise to any of you that I became a fat, stupid man.
In 1986, I was a rookie police officer working for the City of Oxford as a second shift patrolman. We were looking for an armed robbery suspect who was supposed to be inside a warehouse. What we knew was that he was dangerous and had a shotgun and it was night time.
I was standing with my lieutenant about to go into the building holding my flashlight and weapon. He must have seen the sheer terror on my face because he asked me what was wrong with me. I was trembling and I was terrified. I asked him if we really needed to go inside and search this building and could we not wait until morning, which was only 9 or 10 hours away?
He put his hand on my shoulder and asked me who else should we call? He said, “David, we are the police and it is our job to do this; we can’t call the National Guard.” He smiled then said “let’s go.”
We started searching that building and the whole time my fear-driven imagination saw a man with a shotgun in every dark corner. At one point, I was shaking so hard that my tiny flashlight beam looked like a strobe light on the wall. It turned out that the building was empty and someone else in another county caught the robber. That was my first lesson in learning to control fear. My lieutenant saw that I was afraid. He did not make fun of me or try to shame me but instead offered calm reassurance and reminded me of the duty of service. His smile and his hand on my shoulder was the strength I needed to take the first step into that building.
We are supposed to be afraid at times, however, we can’t let our fear control us. We have to let go, remember that God is in control, and do our duty, whatever that may be.
This city and our world in general are in the grip of violence, hatred and terror. Do not let fear control you. Go out and do your duty. Change this city by talking to your neighbor. Support and love one another and we can change our world. You personally take the first step; don’t stay frozen by fear — fear of ridicule, shame or even failure.
God has a plan. Pray, certainly, but when you can make a difference by taking that first step, do so. Fear can be overcome by faith and courage.