For eight days I served on a jury.
For eight days I couldn't watch the news, see a newspaper, or look at our local news online.
For eight days I had to keep secrets.
For eight days I had to contain a vast amount of information and facts and evidence.
For eight days I felt full, overwhelmed and weighed down.
For eight days I carried around a heavy burden with me. That in my hands was the life of someone else - and what I decided as being part of a jury, was going to have a forever impact on that person.
For eight days I contemplated punishment and grace and mercy.
For eight days I had questions for God about His goodness, His plans, the things that He allows that I just don't understand.
For eight days I had little left in me - to write, to cook, to get things done around the house, to exercise. I was spent in every way.
For eight days I felt a lot of feelings - many things triggered for me in my own story.
For eight days I cried at some point - every single day.
For eight days I went to bed exhausted and drained both physically and mentally.
For eight days I was forced to see things from different perspectives.
For eight days I did my duty to my country and to society as a whole as being a citizen of the United States of America.
Someone sent me a message today and asked me if it was worth my time. Did I feel like my precious time had been wasted or was I glad that I could be part of it? And if that person would have asked me eight days ago, I would have said no. It wasn't going to be worth my time. How could I give up an unknown amount of days from life to step away from work - where I make my income and help to provide for my family - to go unpaid (except for the small amount the county pays to you) ? My time was indeed precious, and I was convinced that the week or weeks this was going to take would indeed be a complete waste.
But eight days later, I don't feel that way anymore. As hard as it was - on me, my family, our pocketbook, and my heart - it was worth it. It was an honor to be chosen. It was a privilege to play a part in the way that I was chosen to do so. And I served alongside fellow jurors who were full of integrity and character and conviction.
It would be unkind to write about the case or what it involved, and I simply won't out of respect to everyone involved in it. But I will say that my heart is forever touched and moved by this experience, by the stories shared, by the facts and evidence that were put before me.
All of it left me broken-hearted, humbled, moved and changed. And more than any other thing, I am left feeling overwhelmingly full of gratitude.
I am grateful for my freedoms in this country - one of them being that I have the right - we all do - to a fair trial. I am grateful for my story - how my life experiences and how God has shaped my heart, plays a factor in how I make decisions and think of others. I am grateful that I have this firm assurance deep in my soul, that ultimately my hope is in the cross of Jesus and what He did for me. I am grateful for where Love has seen me.
Gratitude. Eight days ago, that's the last thing I would have expected to feel on the other end of this.