If you read my previous post, you know that a few weeks ago I had the amazing experience of arguing a case before the Ohio Supreme Court. Many kind souls who either witnessed the event firsthand or watched the video have showered me with encouragement and remarked at my "calmness" and "poise." Now I'd like to share with you "the rest of the story..."
Since January, I have battled repeated sinus infections. Of course, January and February were THE months of my intense preparations for the case. There was no doubt in my mind: this was not just a sinus thing, this was a spiritual thing and a mental thing. And so I did what I had to do. I stocked up on lotion-infused tissues, settled into my bed to read the 6,344 pages of transcripts, and took more rounds of antibiotics, probiotics, and nasal steroids than I care to recount. Then, two days before "the" day, I dropped my sweet kids off at school and headed to Columbus. And cried.
Those of you who know me well know that it is a real struggle for me to leave my kids for any length of time, and especially to go any significant distance from them. (Yes, I definitely have issues!) What if something happens to me? What if something happens to them? Will they feel neglected? Lonely? Will their father remember to pick them up from school and feed them? (I'm just joking about that last part...sort of).
As the tears flowed (or, more accurately, made it even less possible for me to breathe), I asked the Lord to help me do what needed to be done. I told Him that where He called me to go, I would go. I begged for His help, and I laid my fears, worries and doubts at His feet.
The day before oral argument, I got myself ready and made my way to the Court to watch the oral arguments scheduled for that morning. I wanted to get a feel for the justices' personalities, the layout of the courtroom, the location of the ladies' room. I walked many, many blocks to get there, in the pouring rain, and impossibly high heels that kept slipping off my feet. I attributed this to the fact that the extremely cold temperature had caused my feet to contract. I recalled savvy New Yorkers I had seen on television making their morning treks to Fifth Avenue in sneakers...and I finally understood that there really are some situations in which looking fashionable is absurd.
After passing through security and getting my bearings, I took my place in the second row of the ornate courtroom. I was overwhelmed by the sheer mass of tapestry, drapery and gold brocade. But then the first case was called.
Not long after the Appellee took his place at the lectern, the unthinkable happened. The gentleman become unresponsive to the Justices' questions, apparently grew faint (I could only see the back of his head), and was ordered by Chief Justice O'Connor to take his seat. Security guards ran forward to slide the nearest chair behind him as he appeared to stumble backwards. An ambulance was called, and he was removed from the courtroom in a wheelchair.
So much for getting the butterflies out of the stomach!
Those butterflies continued in full force, right up until the following morning, when it was time for me to do my thing. (No, I did not sleep the night before, and yes, I spent plenty of time in prayer!). I became teary-eyed when Cameron and Lori Pike, two friends of John Freshwater who had served as a support team throughout the case, prayed with me before we entered the coutroom. Could I really do this?
But when my time came to approach the lectern, I experienced absolute, total peace. Peace that passes understanding. The peace of the soul, that I believe we experience most fully when we commit--perhaps against our own will--to doing His.
I wasn't the only one in the courtroom that day seeking the Lord's favor. Seated behind me in the courtroom were John Freshwater and his wife, Nancy, and about a dozen faithful Freshwater friends who have followed the case for years, prayed for it, even stepped in to do paralegal-type work when it was needed. Their prayers filled the courtroom the day, and I was a beneficiary of their behind-the-scenes faithfulness.
After the oral arguments ended, these friends (many of whom I had not met before that moment!) filed out of the courtroom with me. We found an empty conference room, and we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. Of course, we don't know what the outcome of the case will ultimately be. But the truth of the injustice that had been done to John Freshwater, much of which had been shrouded, convoluted, or misreported for years, seemed to take center stage that morning. And that was cause for much rejoicing.
As we left the conference room, a reporter approached--the same one who has followed the case from the beginning, always with a decided bias against Freshwater. His last question to me was, "Have you done this much?" I replied simply, "No, not much." He said, "You seemed so calm."
I slipped out of my impossibly high heels and into the non-descript, black walking shoes I had tucked into my bag. Thank you, Lord.