I had to go to court this week. It was part of the divorce proceedings. I knew it was coming but I was not prepared for how it would feel.
It is a waking nightmare to hear someone else determining your life. I kept thinking of all the people in the 1700’s who were put on convict ships for Australia because they stole a loaf of bread.
Obviously it wasn’t as bad as that, but it is something to sit there and hear people speaking their story only to have someone else – and not even a jury – decide what is going to happen to them and their children.
I sat through about 8 cases before mine was called. It was heartbreaking. This was family court and many of the parents were so young. The term “Living Hell” popped into my mind.
We talk about things being a living hell. And then there’s living hell itself. When my kids ask me what hell is, without concrete knowledge I can only tell them what it isn’t.
It is a place where there isn’t truth, hope, love, peace, mercy, justice, light, forgiveness, redemption or grace. (Honestly who cares whatever else it may be if that’s what you’ve got to work with going in?)
In this life we’re not in hell though. All those things are still up for grabs. For everyone. If you know that they are.
I watched the backs of one young couple before the Judge fighting over their toddler. The mother was barely sitting down and her back was rigid with tension. The father’s shoulders were bowed with fists clenched on the table.
There were 30 cases before the bench that day. Who of us hasn’t made mistakes or poor choices? Who hasn’t at some point become embattled or embittered or enraged? Including this grumpy, overbooked Judge! And now it was the Judge’s (I thought ghastly) responsibility to make a judgment based only upon what had been made known.
I felt physically sick when I walked out. But I was OK, because I am not in hell. I am grateful that we have a justice system.
And I do know that there is truth, hope, love, peace, mercy, justice, light, forgiveness, redemption and grace to be found. Because I have found them in greater hands than our own.
And it is going to be all right.