jury duty lessons

view from the courthouse

It was a no-win situation. I looked out this window, desperately seeking wisdom and discernment. I had hoped it would turn out differently. Unfortunately, the harm was done, a steep price will be paid, and now I can only pray that God will do a restorative and healing work in the future.

I served as a trial juror last week. It was a good learning experience, but it also took a lot out of me emotionally. I suppose light-hearted circumstances are not the ones that end up in a courtroom, so it is not surprising that the trial content was heavy, ugly, and very sad.

I prayed a lot. I prayed during jury selection as the lawyers asked the elimination-process questions. I had no particular desire to serve or escape serving and answered truthfully. I wanted God to be the one who was guiding the ultimate choice.

I felt sincere compassion for both sides. As we began, the judge clearly explained, and I confidently believed in, the defendant’s innocence and the state prosecution’s full responsibility to prove guilt if there was any.

COVID made the experience more complicated and stressful. We wore provided clear masks required for safety and to show facial expressions, and others wore them to allow for clear identification. We had our temperatures taken and used the hand sanitizer available everywhere. The jurors – and other trial participants – were separated by six feet of distance, and we were sequestered in two different rooms to allow for more generous spacing. Some people were nervous about participating, and some staffing roles were short-handed.

I appreciated the professionalism and respectful actions of those involved – from the guards at the building entrance to the judge himself. All patiently gave clear instructions, and technological, translation, and virus inconveniences never heightened frustrations. The jurors took their work seriously and did not attempt to bend rules or rush critical decisions.

I am grateful for the experience, although I have been especially tired the days since. I am not yet sleeping well as I remember testimonies and evidence, and I feel a heavy burden for the victim and the accused. There is no way to erase the damage done, and the scars will never disappear completely.

I do still cling to hope.

I believe people can heal, and people can grow and change. Forgiveness can be offered and received. New beginnings are possible, and powerful transformation can occur. When the deep sadness and emotional weight wash over me, I pray for each person and envision a better future.

Being part of the trial also made me more aware of the impact of my harm on others. My words and actions – even my thoughts – affect others. It may not be to the extent of this crime, but I can hurt and wound in other ways. I desire to bring encouragement, help, compassion, care, and empowerment to others. I will not live this out perfectly, and I will often need forgiveness and grace. However, as I embrace Jesus’ unconditional love for me, I can better offer it to others.

I am thankful for this season and the extra opportunities for reflection on His character and life example that are possible during this time. I want to live a life that looks more like His and love others more like He did.

What experiences make you want to look more like Jesus?

8 thoughts on “jury duty lessons

  1. Our first year in Miami, I was selected as a juror in a second-degree murder trial. I remember starting to shake as the judge gave us instructions, knowing that the fate of the defendant was in our hands. Thanks for your reflections. The fallout from sin so permeates our lives. Thanking God for His redemption.

    • He is definitely always teaching us and showing us Jesus. Thank you for praying for my sleep. I know I’ll catch up eventually, but I’m still pretty tired right now. I’m grateful for you, Colleen.

  2. I’ve been called for jury duty a number of times but have never served. I can’t imagine the heaviness of determining the guilt of another that rests on the shoulders of those serving. Especially when they’re as compassionate as you. I’m sure people saw the depth of your consideration, the extent of your honesty. And you honored the Lord with your presence and your perspective. The harm that others do and we do at the moment is always, in retrospect, so much greater. We hurt others with our lives, words, actions, attitudes. But God. Thanks for this very insightful blog that focuses me more on grace and mercy rather than entitlement. I appreciate you.

    • And I appreciate you, friend – so very much. You have the gift of encouragement, and I am so grateful to be one of the recipients. Thank you for all your kinds words of positive belief and affirmation. You’re the best. xoxo

    • Wow, Maggie. It would have been a very different and very difficult experience if the juror group had not taken the work seriously. So grateful you were there to add a positive influence. I appreciate you.

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