Thankful to Live in the Land of the Free

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“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The Pledge of Allegiance

Were there other things I could be doing? Absolutely. Did I have a long list of things I needed to do? Yes, and my list seemed to be growing. Am I glad that I was required to do something I probably wouldn’t have volunteered for if I’d had a choice? There is no doubt about it.

When I received the envelope marked “Jury Summons,” I was sure that the date I’d find highlighted on the inside of the letter would fall during a busy time in my calendar. I was right. But before I unfolded the paper that would affect my future, I began an inner conversation reminding myself that life is always busy and many meaningful things are inconvenient.

 

The flag that represents all things American, including freedom.

Sure enough, the date that I had been selected for coincided with the day our daughter Kelly and four children were coming to stay for several days while Ryan, our son-in-law was out of town.

When I called to find out the status of my jury duty, my instructions were to show up the next day at 7:30 in the morning at the Superior Courthouse in Santa Ana.

I woke up extra early to try and accomplish as much as possible because I didn’t know how many hours or possibly days I would have to spend at the courthouse.

As I drove onto the freeway to head for Santa Ana, I thought of the things I had planned to do that day with my daughter and grandchildren. I thought of the fun I would miss and the work that I would have to delay. Then I remembered that earlier conversation with myself about important things often being inconvenient. It was like being on a mental teeter-totter, an inner tug-of-war that was costing me energy but was taking me nowhere.

So I prayed.

Then I saw brake lights ahead of me and I joined the masses that were slowing down due to bumper-to-bumper traffic. Now I wasn’t getting anywhere physically either.

I prayed some more.

As I sat there I realized how selfish I had been to think about the things I would miss doing because of jury duty. I thought about the fact that I had awakened in a warm house with a kitchen full of food to choose from for breakfast. I had too many options when I decided what to wear that morning and I drove one of two cars that we own. I drove out of a neighborhood filled with wonderful families, and I’d already driven by homes and businesses that flew the American flag. I thought of how many choices I get to make in a day, and just how much freedom I really have.

I realized how incredibly fortunate I am to live in America, land of the free. I thought about a Bible verse that says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I asked God to help me glorify Him during jury duty.

The traffic moved slowly, but I made it to the courthouse in time.

The guards at the security check station were friendly, as were the people sitting around me in the jury waiting room. I listened to an orientation speech and a warm welcome by a judge who thanked us for our participation in the judicial system; a system that he said is respected as the best around the world. He acknowledged that he knew we all had other places we’d rather be, but stressed that we were all essential to the justice system. He reminded us that fulfilling our civic duty helps ensure the high quality of justice. I was reminded once again of how thankful I am to live in America, land of the free.

I was one of a large pool of potential jurors for a criminal case. Over the three days it took for the selection process, I enjoyed talking with different people, of different ages, from many different backgrounds. As it turned out the jury was selected before the last few of us were called.

I went home relieved, yet almost disappointed. Once God had helped refocus my attitude, I looked forward to trying to glorify Him while doing my civic duty. On the drive home, I smiled as I passed American flags flying in the breeze and I happily sang, “God Bless America, Land that I Love.”

Cindy can be reached at [email protected]

 

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