A Message From Our Chaplain - There's No Place Like Home


Greetings, fellow graduates who now belong to that great organization, the FBI National Academy Associates! 

We usher in 2017 with the first all-electronic edition of “The Associate”, the magazine of the FBI National Academy Associates.  Please use the ease of the electronic edition to share with officers and staff under your command.  Perhaps there a pertinent article that addresses a current situation in your department.  Research past archived copies and select one of particular benefit to pass along by email or text.  Perhaps even read previous columns by your old Chaplain!  If you find them beneficial, share them electronically.  In any case, maximize the use of “The Associate” in its new e-format edition. 

As this year begins, so too, the final year I serve as your Chaplain.  The four-year term under which the FBINAA Chaplain serves has passed swiftly for me.  Last year was a true struggle as I reached out to departments across our nation who lost officers in the line of duty.  I offered condolences and comfort on your behalf in the sorrowing aftermath of a department losing an officer. 

With this last year as your Chaplain, I begin the final journey on the road you and I have traveled together.  It is entirely appropriate to review the four-year overarching theme of “Calling Us Back to Move Us Forward”.  Within that framework, I developed four areas we would explore in greater depth.  As a refresher, the themes encompassed the following:

     •  2014 – Touchstones: Remembering the Important
     •  2015 – Mountaintops and Valleys: Our Journey
     •  2016 – Milestones: Keep Moving the Finish Line
     •  2017 – Remembering Home: From Beginning to End

We now come to what may be the most important but difficult theme of all but, in our heart of hearts, know we should place first and foremost.  As we reflect on our lives, we find the home in which we were raised, the home in which we spend our career, and the home where we will live our retirement years all impact our lives depending on the priority we give them.

Yes, the home in which we were raised can have a direct impact on the home we finally establish with the family relationships we develop within those walls.  Our parents, siblings, and other relatives influence how we view relationships down the road, whether good or bad.  Likewise, in reverse, the homes in which we raise our children can profoundly influence their future homes.

Our career can also determine the importance we place on home.  The danger our profession faces is the very dedication, determination, and sacrifice, the true calling of who we are, can help or harm relationships in the home.  Those very traits, like the atom and fire, are beneficial when used properly but deadly when used in destructive ways.  And the home is the bellwether as to which of those traits will cause harm or healing.

I recently returned to the FBI Academy and took a walk to see some of the sites as a reminder of milestone events that influenced me during the 201st session in spring, 2000.  The Yellow Brick Road signs outside of the gymnasium harked back to younger years.  As I reflected on that challenging day, my thoughts drifted to the origin of the phrase, “Yellow Brick Road”.  Of course, it is from “The Wizard of Oz” and who can forget Dorothy’s repeated phrase: “There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.”

You know, it may be of some benefit to follow Dorothy’s example!  In the midst of our hectic and demanding careers, when the task before us is consuming every ounce of our being, sometimes it may benefit us to repeat that phrase as a quiet reminder of what is most important.

But, when it comes right down to it, it was not the physical home that was important to Dorothy.  It was the relationships in the home that made her yearn to return there.  You see, the home is not the building.  The home is where relationships are built. There are beautiful houses that contain broken relationships and there are small, worn hovels where beautiful relationships are nurtured and thrive.

But we all know, and most have experienced, some turmoil in familial relationships.  Left unchecked, damaged relationships in the home can result in emotional distancing to the point it is beyond repair. 

But the Bible, divinely inspired by our Creator, is an “owner’s manual” of sorts and paints vivid and real pictures of human relationships stretched to the breaking point but brought back together again in a way that does not seem humanly possible.  We can take great solace in studying the circumstances surrounding these situations and, perhaps, learn from them

One such person is Joseph found in the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis.  Joseph was the object of his brothers’ jealousy that grew to the point they plotted his death.  One compassionate brother made an attempt to save him but, despite his best plans, the other brothers sold Joseph into slavery.  The brothers lied to their father and feigned Joseph’s death and, given the fate of most who were trafficked in Bible times, the brothers actually assumed Joseph would die.

Fast forward and Joseph has further setbacks as he lives under captivity in Egypt.  Based on his devotion to God and commitment to serve Him, Joseph’s lot in life rises only to crash time and time again.  However, by God’s providence, Joseph attains position in Egypt second only to the ruling Pharaoh. 

When famine strikes the land, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for food and meet the great assistant to the Pharaoh.  Unbeknownst to them, their brother, Joseph, stands before them.  He holds unlimited power to take their lives and exact the revenge he was due.  In fact, we read of Joseph struggling with the desire to avenge his brothers’ earlier abuse by using the power of his position.  On more than one occasion and by various ruses, Joseph has officers under his command threaten punishment and death for concocted allegations Joseph had devised.

Eventually, the calling of home and its relationships brings Joseph to his senses and, in one of the most emotional readings of the Bible, he reveals himself to his astounded and dumbstruck brothers!

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

You would do well to read this gripping account and rejoice in the tearful reunion of reconciliation.  Please take time to read this most riveting account in the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis, chapters 37 – 45.

Perhaps your own relationships in the home have suffered from decisions and actions of yourself or by others towards you.  No matter how deep the hurt and seemingly permanent the loss of relationship, God calls us to reconciliation.  Perhaps now is the time to be like Joseph and fully embrace your family however deep the injury may have been.

Upon reconciliation, we can, in true heart and spirit, know “There’s no place like home.”

Peace and blessings,

Dan Bateman, Chaplain
(586) 484-3164