in the criminal justice system…

Monday, May 21, 2012

Matlock was my favorite TV show growing up. I desperately wanted to be a private criminal defense attorney or even a public defender. Life has a funny way of bringing your dreams to you, I guess. I’m not spending my days working on behalf of my innocent-clients-who-are-accused-of-terrible-crimes like Matlock, but I do find myself spending a good part of my time these last three years heavily involved in the court system. I feel like I’m always waiting on verdicts. Verdicts for my children, for their parents, for others’ children…I’m fasting and praying nearly every single month for the judges, the attorneys, the case workers, the children.

This is not the way I expected to be involved in the courts when I was in high school, but I find myself involved nevertheless. I’ve sat in that long hallway that they call a waiting room right across from the lady who is high every single time she comes to court, listening for our case to be called. The guard knows me by sight now when I go through security; he no longer asks what I’m there for. I’ve sat in the gallery of the courtroom. I’ve seen custody transfers, custody removals, and visitation denials. I’ve sat in the judge’s private chambers, answering questions that no matter how longed for, I wasn’t prepared to answer. I’ve watched my husband testify in a huge empty federal courtroom. I’ve watched people flat out lie on the stand. I’ve testified myself, with a cough drop hidden in my cheek, with hands clasped so no one could tell how nervous I was. I know where the bathrooms are, which way to go to get to the elevators, exactly how long it takes to be buzzed into juvenile hall.

Today, I’m in that waiting room again. Not in the literal waiting room that I’m familiar with at juvenile court, but we are awaiting a verdict for a family member. A verdict that could mean years of jail time, double digits served in a penitentiary, not the local jail, and a loss of relationship between parent and child. The feeling is the same it always is - the knots in the stomach, the butterflies in the throat. An inability to focus on the tasks I need to accomplish today. The desire for mindless distraction.

My teenage heart longed for this legal-life-calling, and God clearly has a bent towards irony. This just looks different than I thought it would. I might have thought I’d be on the prettier, more put together side of the courtroom. The one where it’s my job, not my life. But here’s where I find myself today: in the middle of the mess, in the middle of the brokenness, longing for redemption and restoration. Clinging to Jesus.

1000 gifts and beyond:

1017. a welcoming playground
1018. a happy mama
1019. babysitting for a long, long baseball game
1020. babies in sunshine
1021. a sister-in-law who prays faithfully
1022. Chik-fil-A sauce
1023. relaxing mornings at home
1024. home games
1025. fluffy pink and white peonies filling the whole house with their fragrance
1026. giving up the evening so the little trees can be mowed
1027. late night suppers with just him
1028. new pillows
1029. claiming the last bit of my birthday present
1030. an hour long quiet sanctuary, the massage just icing on that quiet cake
1031. a cleaned-up mud room, welcoming me every time I enter the house
1032. babysitting for TWO long, long baseball games
1033. watching my son succeed – 3 innings pitched with just 1 walk and only 1 run
1034. clean sheets
1035. a working air conditioner
1035. celebrating yet another May birthday
1036. praying with my husband and children before bed

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