What I Learned about Women from Jury Duty

Supreme Court

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, afagen

A few years ago, I was selected for jury duty. Most would have dreaded showing up at the courthouse each morning, but I was thrilled. I come from a family of lawyers and was dying to be chosen.

I was selected!

My hopes for a murder trial or something of the sort that would involve sequestering and plant me in the middle of Runaway Jury did not come to fruition. It was instead a civil suit with a personal injury claim. Not terribly riveting, but I was still thrilled to be on the jury. The woman injured was claiming debilitating back pain as a result of a car accident. She was suing State Farm.

Now, several interesting things surfaced over the course of the trial. One, she lied–the State Farm defendant  knew it and made sure we did too. Two, she was in full-time ministry and made sure we were informed of her service. And three, our jury panel was pretty heavily divided about how much money to award her.

The men on the jury wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and award her with a lot of money; us women didn’t want to give her much at all. After much deliberating, the jury elected me as the foreman and we decided to award her about $3,000 to cover her hospital costs and a little extra for pain-and-suffering. When I stood up and read the verdict, the courtroom fell silent, the plaintiff started crying, and the State Farm defendants grinned and patted each other on the back. The women on the jury determined the outcome.

After the trial, I talked to my uncle who is a defense attorney  about the outcome and he said something that has stuck with me:

“Women are always harder than men on women. I would have tried to fill that jury with women to ensure the result came out in my favor.”

How tragically true.

We’re quite hard on each other, aren’t we?

I was at a baby shower recently and one woman who was a complete stranger before that evening told me about how her sister-in-laws kids feel neglected because she works. “They really act out and I don’t think she realizes how much she’s needed in their lives. It’s so selfish that she’s focused on her career.”

Really? Do we say these things about each other?

In my experience, yes. And if we don’t speak judgment, we certainly think it. We’re so hard on each other and I’m calling a time out.

Think about the last time you were hard on another woman. Was it last week? Because it was for me.

I was annoyed by the lady at the baby shower, understanding the stress that my friends who are working moms feel. But anytime I start to point the finger at someone else, I try to take a minute to recognize how I am guilty too. We all are.

Here’s what it feels like to be a woman: we have to thin, eat kale when we really just want Oreos, kick the business world’s rear all the while having shiny hair, white teeth, a firm butt, and a killer wardrobe. We have pressure to choose between staying home or continuing to work, squeeze in time to cook healthy meals, and be up for hosting dinner guests at any time. It’s exhausting enough without going around tearing each other down.

Our world would be different if we as women made an effort to speak kindness, give one another the benefit of the doubt, choose to love rather than criticize, and seek unity not division.

If she doesn’t exercise, isn’t on time, has less to do than you but is still a hot mess, works too much, wears clothes that are too tight . . . why not examine ways we fall short before we criticize? I’m in this with you. Let’s let’s stand together as women and stop meaning mean girls.

Are you hard on other women? What kind of thoughts do you think about other women? What ideas do you have for helping us stand together and show grace to one another?

 

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Comments
4 Responses to “What I Learned about Women from Jury Duty”
  1. Maureen says:

    Someone once said we are only hard on other people because we’re that hard on ourselves. It’s interesting because now I’m going to go through this week and analyse how I think about women. I remember seeing a picture of Joyce Meyer standing in front of a group of girls who’d been rescued from sex trafficking. She was walking by each one and greeting them. And I remember looking at her face and realising that she genuinely cared about them-it wasn’t an act.

    In that moment of realisation, I came full face with the truth of my own heart. Any time that I’d looked at other women (especially those my age), it was always in comparison. I had done it so long that I now did it without a second thought. The instant I met someone I was comparing: trying to find flaws to make myself feel better, or finding really positive things through and through and then deciding that she was better than me in the case of the latter. It’s as if this natural first impression that people make with us when we meet them had been warped to something more twisted: a need to categorise other women as above or beneath me. It was really scary.

    After this realisation I remember God telling me that everyone has their insecurities. Every single person I meet, male or female (perhaps females even more so). And He asked me something to do something amazing: to celebrate other people (especially the ones I’d get jealous of). He asked me to be to other women that person I’d wished someone would be to me. Because of my insecurities I always wanted to validate myself by subconsciously attacking other women, by trying to bring myself up through putting them down. And instead, God asked me to bring them up. Just like I wanted someone to validate me, to exhort and encourage and to speak out the good things in me, God asked me to be that person to all those other women. It’s taken my eyes off my insecurities, because now I just make it a point to be to other people what I wish someone would’ve been for me. To be that person who calls them beautiful, to genuinely celebrate them, even if it takes a while to get there. I intentionally set out to celebrate other people, because ultimately, we are daughters of the most High. And it’s not a competition, it’s hard to really grasp that it’s not a competition-and it took me time. Each of us has Christ in us, and that makes us so so valuable. We have to remember that and just how valuable that makes us. It’ll help us walk from a place of strength, and in turn to help others up.

    Sorry for long post

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Maureen,

      Your comment just gave me chills. Truly inspired. I’ve never thought of the notion that each of us categorize other women as being above or beneath us. But we do! At least I’m guilty at times. I was the fat girl who didn’t have a boyfriend in middle school and sometimes it feels like I’m still living in that insecure mindset. Something I’m really passionate about is reminding women of their unique beauty (I actually talk about this in Real Men Don’t Text) because words can be so powerful, right?

      It isn’t a competition, but it often feels like it is. I don’t fee like men struggle with this quite as much as we do . . . but I’d love to hear from some guys!

      Thanks for your comment. Seriously, so inspiring!

  2. k says:

    this is a REALLY good post- and observation,Ruthie and Maureen. Just in 2 hours i will be hosting a group of women in my home for our first community group. This is something I really need to remember as a leader. Thank you.
    To add to your thoughts- it is a really hard line to walk Grace and Truth. Some people really need to hear the truth- need to be ‘confronted’ with facts so they can assess where to change to more functional people. Most people though are kicking themselves in the pants so much with not living up to their own standards that they really need Grace. HMM. I guess I should choose Grace above all since I am a person of a judgmental nature.
    Women really live in a competitive world. Is that due to people pleasing tendencies? Do we really need to be that perfect? Why are we so hard on ourselves and compare ourselves constantly?
    On a lighter note- my house is clean enough and I don’t need to put on my makeup! And my food will be good enough, too! whew thats a relief!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks so much for sharing your struggles with this topic. I’m so glad you are stepping out and opening your home to women. It’s something that I struggle with and am continually challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone. Have you read Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread & Wine? I think you’d love it!

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