I recently had the pleasure of being a part of the selection process for an upcoming court case. This was the first time I had made it to this point in the juror selection process, and only the second time I had actually been called in for jury duty.
I am one of those weird individuals who actually enjoy fulfilling my civic duty. Perhaps I have all those years competing in debate to thank for my love of how the judicial system works and is conducted. Regardless, in my mind I secretly let out a “yesshhhh!” and pretended to throw my hands up in the air in anticipation.
I think the words “Jury Duty” are probably synonyms for “waiting-a-long-time” or at the very least are a way for citizens to practice their patience. At least the holding room was comfortable and accommodated our lesson in the art of patience. My group was finally called up to begin the selection process, and I felt like I had entered a reality tv show screening room where the possible contestants shared their most depressing sob story of why they could not fulfill their civic duty. I’m sure some of them were sincere, but by the time the last story had been shared, the rest of us were all a little less sympathetic and had turned into depression-riddled zombies who had been locked up in a dark room for far too long and were about to get ravenous.Recognizing our impending dilemma, the Judge graciously excused us for the day to resume the next morning when we had all returned to our normal state.
The next day we sat through more depressing stories and finally had enough people for the prosecutor and the defense attorney to begin their screening. I was the sixth of twelve potential jurors to be questioned. By the end of the day, I felt like we were all one huge family that had just come out of a counseling session where all of our personal information and past baggage was placed on the table for all to hear.
The final portion of our interrogation consisted of quite a few extremely vague hypothetical scenarios. I don’t like hypothetical examples all that much. They are just that – hypothetical and vague. Not real people, with real problems, and real scenarios. Thankfully, despite this portion of our interrogation, I thought I did very well, and tried my best to answer each question as truthfully, or at least as accurately, as I thought possible. Then both the defense attorney and the prosecutor took turns dismissing those they no longer wanted on the case.
I was shocked to discover that my name was the third called to be dismissed. I believe the prosecutor’s exact words were “I wish to dismiss juror #6 Miss Keefer (he never once got my last name right), and thank her for her time”. The judge and defense attorney agreed, and I was escorted out the door and released back into civilization. No harm, no foul, it just wasn’t meant to be, right?
I tried to persuade myself of this reality, but no matter how hard I tried, I have to admit, I was hurt. And badly. I mean really?!?!? After I literally gave all of my resources to the judicial system via my time, money, emotions, thoughts, common sense, mileage, attention, and any other physical and mental ability not already listed, they had the nerve to just dismiss me? Done. Gone. End of story.
I will probably never know what (if anything) was the tip-off that plummeted me over the edge and caused me to be dismissed. Maybe it was just what I was wearing (or not wearing). Whatever it might have been, I don’t know. But it has bothered me. What if I answered a certain question differently – would I not have been dismissed?
As the day came to a close, I used what little mental processors I had left to come to a startling realization.
My life all too often reminds me of my dismissal from jury duty.
Whether it’s trying my best to work at a relationship with a young man who may one day be my husband; devoting time to invest in friendships; making sacrifices so I can be an available blessing to mommies with little ones; or diligently working hard on to-do lists both personal and for the well-being of my household; I feel like despite all of the resources I have given to say, do, react, and learn in the appropriate manner, all too often I find myself being dismissed from opportunities I have poured myself in. A young man’s friendship moves no further; friend’s schedules do not work with mine; mommies have better options to turn to for help; and the to-do lists are a never ending reminder that my work never ends.
It’s like running in a wind storm – no matter how hard I try, I move nowhere. Like God has told me “Thank you for your service in [insert area], but you have been dismissed.” I question my hard work and begin to wonder if I had said/not said certain things; if I had reorganized my schedule better; if I had sacrificed myself just a little bit more; would I have been selected for service? Is there something about me that is hindering my ability to be of service in the greater good of those who mean the most to me?
I may never know why I feel like I am in a holding pattern in my life while others are being selected to do things I would love to do, but I am learning to trust that my dismissal is the best thing for me right now. That in the grand scheme of things, it is better for me not to be selected while others are.
Perhaps one day I will actually be selected to serve on a jury, but even if that never happens, it is comforting to know that at the very least, I will hear my God tell me one day “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21)