Each year I choose a word that becomes the theme in my mind and actions. It gives focus to the ways I plan, my attitude, my goals. Words from previous years include “run,” “speak,” “fearless,” and “restore.” I usually pray and then wait for the right word towards the end of each year, and I always get something that applies to all areas of my life—relationally, spiritually, personal growth, and in my growth as the leader of H2LOC.

My phrase for 2020 is “Lean In.” I heard this for the first time from Chief, having visions of a football player tucking the ball under his arm, head down, crouched low and juking forward. I then thought of the times I’ve been in a storm where the wind is blowing pretty hard. My natural inclination is to tighten my body, head and shoulder down, and lean into it. It’s the only way to go forward while still protecting my eyes, nose, and mouth.

Lean in has caused me to look at several areas in my life. Chief is now retired from the CHP; and is now dedicated fully to training law enforcement in emotional and relational wellness and leadership. We travel often (at least before COVID 19), and our new life has been a great complement to what I do for H2LOC. In this way, I am “leaning in” towards a new relationship post-law enforcement with my guy, and it’s been incredible. Together we are “leaning in” to each other first, and then to officer and family wellness, and our dedication to families everywhere.

As leader of H2LOC, I’m “leaning in” to my role. I am visioning, encouraging our volunteers, choosing wisely our involvements, leading this organization as we grow roots and take wings to bring the best and most useful resources available for all members of the LE Family—officers, spouses, children, parents, and others.

Spiritually, this term has had the most impact. I usually find something from the Bible to focus my relationship with God that includes the yearly word. “Lean in” was virtually non-existent, until I found this verse: “There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” I immediately got the picture of John (the author of this passage) leaning into Jesus, feeling His heartbeat, and hearing His breath go in and out of His lungs. The closest a person could get to the heart of God. That’s where I want to be.

At the beginning of it all, according to the book of Genesis, God created man for a relationship with Himself—full of blessing and joy and interaction. But He also gave humans a choice to love Him in return and follow Him. There is no love without choice. Man chose not to love, not to listen, and it affected everything, effectively breaking relationship with God. Jesus became the bridge to repair and rekindle that relationship (through His death and resurrection)—and as we lean into Him, turning from our own ways, listening, following, believing, we can get to know the heart of God in a new way. It is then we realize how much we are loved by God Himself.

Fast forward to now—with disease plaguing 100% of the people of the world in some way. Sick or not, we’re affected. Fear, loneliness, loss of income or businesses, deaths of loved ones, social distancing that breeds isolation, and…you get the idea. You’re living it. So am I.

It is at times like these that we return to our priorities—what is it that we stand on? What is it that we stand for? What are the things that are non-negotiable in our lives? What or whom do we have faith in? It is at this time that we must look at ourselves relationally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Once we determine the answers to these questions, we lean into them. We lean into our spouses and children. We lean into the essential values we stand on and let go of the things of lesser value. We lean into this crisis and choose to make the time count for something good. And, my hope is that each of us lean into the bosom of God, hearing His heartbeat, and finding peace in the fact that He is present, and we are loved.