Civic Duty Ambivalence

It had been over twenty years since I had opened up the envelope to read, “JURY SUMMONS” at the top with instructions to arrive at Sedgwick County Courthouse. Pinned to my kitchen bulletin board, I almost forgot I had to serve and needed to juggle several commitments to make it work.

Huddled with the 500-plus prospective jurors in an overflowing jury room, guilt feelings sprinkled me for not being more enthusiastic serving as a juror. Honestly, being released quickly topped my list of desired outcome. And as a second choice, I aspired to be a juror on a brief, clear cut criminal case.

The words of Judge Wooley resonated with me and, it appeared, the other jurors sitting in the jury box and on the jury panel immediately before the selection process. He opined how our legal system, while flawed, is the best in the world, with process to have a jury of one’s peers as a core component. He elevated our willingness to serve.

Picking up my jury card, after not being selected for the first trial, was a two-headed sword. My attorney husband freaked me out with the possibility of being seated on a civil trial that could last one, two, and even three months. Envisioning being seated in the jury box all day, working all night, seeing my kids and husbands in passing, not sleeping, was a great reminder of how much more fun being a juror was when I was working for Xerox and getting a full salary while I was serving my country. The $10 per day jury compensation would not pay the bills.

After working on my laptop in jury room on day two for 2 hours, the Jury Clerk made the announcement on the overhead system. She thanked us for our service. She explained how several cases had been settled and in others the defendant waived the right to a jury trial. She said we were free to leave and we had fulfilled our civic duty.

A big puff of air flew from my lungs out of relief.

But, despite the cost, I sincerely was willing to serve and to do my best (whatever that might look like with no sleep). And that’s what makes our country work. And that’s what makes our relationships work, too. If something is right and we are being asked to stretch, we ultimately need to be willing to do it. God will orchestrate the demands on our time in a manageable way as we listen to him and trust him.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Trust that God will give us what we can handle, despite what we fear might happen.