They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my strong support.
(Psalm 18:18 AMP)
COURT, DAY ONE: 10:45 A.M.
I hadn’t imagined handcuffs.
I staggered a little, fear making my legs wobbly as I was told to
stand up and face the wall. The bailiff pulled my arms behind me
and clamped steely cold rings tightly around my wrists. Ouch!
Could they do this? How could this be legal?
As I was led into the jury deliberation room and told to sit
down, I found that my hands, bound behind me, prevented me
from sitting properly. If I tried to move my elbows up, so I could
sit without jamming my fingers into the seat, the cuffs dug in
harder. My shoulders and wrists, now tweaked at impossible
angles, stiffened miserably.
I hadn’t imagined pain, either.
I stared around the room, heart pounding. I was familiar with
much of the courthouse, but having never been on a jury, this
room was new to me. I wondered vaguely where the bathroom
was. Didn’t they have to provide a bathroom for jurors? I didn’t
really care, of course. For me, this room was merely the first stop;
a way station en route to hell. (Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration.
But it feels good to say it.)
Alone in that jury room, awaiting transport to the jail, I was
overcome by a black, oppressive fear as I contemplated my future.
How would this end? When would I see my family again? And
the more immediate concern: what would the next day hold?
The next hour?
I’d barely slept the night before. I had far too many unknowns
flying around in my head. This morning my husband Larry and I
rose early, preparing ourselves for events that I had spent serious
energy trying to avoid. All the months of loss, threats, and hard
decisions – months also of forgiveness, strength, and hope – had
brought us to this implausible state. Forced into this nightmare,
I was unable to see where fear would end. Yet, I had arrived on
my own two feet, quaking on the inside, but determined to stick
to my plan.
This morning Larry had made me my favorite breakfast of
scrambled egg whites and gluten-free toast. I had read my Bible,
prayed, and committed this day to God. Our very future hung
in the balance. Larry had patted my knee frequently throughout
our drive to the courthouse, silently reassuring me.
Once inside, I had taken a seat in the front row of the audience
section, while Larry made his way to the defense table. With my
attorney at my side I had listened to the testimony of Sergeant
Shybar. I’d cringed as he recounted, in painful detail, the events
of the evening of November 1, 2012. I’d felt queasy as the officer
finished his testimony and left the witness stand. I had jumped a
little when my attorney whispered into my ear, “We’re on.”
Now, handcuffs bit into me as I studied the empty chairs in
the jury room and wondered, Was that really only 15 minutes ago?
I gazed about me and drew in a deep breath to steady myself.
I am not alone, I told myself. Jesus, You are here with me. I tried
to think of well-loved scriptures to recite to myself, but my mind
was too rattled to recall anything but Psalm 23, that first Psalm
we learn as kids in Sunday School. In truth, it was probably more
relevant for me now than it had ever been. I began to whisper it
softly, closing my eyes and speaking from my heart to the Lord:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters...
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me.
(Ps. 23:1-4 NKJV)
My eyes flew open at the sound of a voice behind me. “Brave
girl.” Unable to turn around, I had no idea who would be saying
that to me until my attorney came and sat on the table in front
of me. He had warned me that this might happen, though he
had thought it unlikely. He did have a plan in mind, however, in
case the improbable became a reality. I knew he disagreed with
the Court’s decision, but he smiled slightly, trying to encourage
me. Promising to come see me tomorrow, he left. Alone again,
my thoughts swirled.
How had this happened?
I was a lifelong Christian. Not perfect by any stretch, mind
you. I’d made a lot of mistakes. Whoppers. Having spent 13 years
on the mission field with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), I had
sidelined my relationship with the Lord when I returned home.
It wasn’t long before I gave up on a floundering marriage, and
Ever faithful, God had sought me out and drawn me back
into a relationship with Him. I was now almost fifteen years into
a second marriage; I had a wonderful church home and was a
student at the church’s Bible school; I was committed to honest
living and hard work; I was the adoring mother of two grown
daughters; and the fanatical, picture-waving, Skype-addicted
grandmother of two young grandsons.
Now, after years of trying to obey the Lord in all things, and
do right even when it hurt, I was going to jail.