Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekend Updates

5:00pm church services are pretty much the best thing ever invented, because they let me go to church, which is important to me, but still be able to sleep in as late as I want to on Sunday and spend sunny Sunday mornings basically in my pajamas, reading, doing some emails, watching TV, cleaning, or whatever else I want to do. So anyway, since I found a wonderful church here with services at 5, I've been feeling like I have the best of both worlds--still going to a great church but also having Sunday mornings free.

Yesterday was incredibly busy. I had to get my car fixed because the brakes have been squeaking, so I went to the north end of town to the Ford dealership to do that. Then I went to Goodwill for awhile and came back to my apartment for about 20 minutes, then went to go pick up Ashley to go see the Great Gatsby with two other law school friends. We hit really bad traffic on the way to the theater and would have been super-late, so we just had lunch and went shopping instead. Ashley stayed out with our other friends because they were going to try to catch a later movie, but I had to leave because Catherine was coming into town to have dinner with me around 5:30. But I soon realized that I had a little problem--I had never been in that part of the city before, and I only figured out how to get there in the first place because Ashley told me where to go. When I tried to leave by myself and meet Catherine, I got SUPER lost and for the life of me couldn't find an entry point to the interstate. Finally I called Catherine and told her I was too lost to find my way back to where I live, and asked her if we could just have dinner at a restaurant in the area where I was and I could figure it out later. Like me, she also was GPS-less, and then, to top it off, my phone battery was almost dead and I kept shutting it off to try to squeeze a little more battery life out of it. Catherine got totally lost too, and it ended up being like, "I am in the Saks Fifth Avenue parking lot. There is a Target next door. Across the street there is a very tall building whose roof looks like a white hand touching the sky. You'll know it when you see it." Anyway, somehow we found each other, and we laughed for the rest of the night about the ridiculousness of it and the odds of two incredibly lost people actually finding each other in a random parking lot.

So we went out for dinner at this fantastic restaurant--in fact, it was pretty much one of the best meals I've ever eaten (even though I had just finished my late lunch with my other friends like 2 hours before--pretty much all I did yesterday was drive around and eat, I feel like!) We just shared appetizers and this taco platter--we're talking about tacos with braised pork and pineapple slaw, and tilapia tacos, and tacos with buttermilk fried chicken and spicy roasted corn. Then we both ordered dessert--she got this chocolate mousse with caramel popcorn in it, and I got this rootbeer ice cream with peanuts and marshmallows in it. Both sound incredibly weird but they were delicious! In fact, I'm still full this morning. Here's a picture:

I finally made it back home (in case you were wondering), called Lauren (my friend from college), and then went to bed. So all in all, it's been a pretty busy weekend.

Can anyone believe it's already the last day of June? (Happy 29th anniversary to my parents, by the way, today!) This summer has FLOWN by, and I've gained more legal experience and more life experience in the last month and a half than I thought was possible to gain in a year. This past week, everything at work just clicked, and I feel like I finally get it, and I now feel stupid like once a day, in comparison to every 5 minutes when I first started! I finally know what I'm doing. I know how to explain legal issues to clients, and when I give them the caveat I'm required to give them--I'm not a licensed attorney yet, so don't rely on the information I gave you as any kind of legal advice--they've been acting very surprised that I'm not, which is a great feeling. It just feels so great to know what I'm doing and to automatically know what motions need to be filed in what situations, and how to begin settlement negotiations, and how and why stuff like jurisdiction matters. I've been pulling together massive amounts of information from classes like torts, civil lawsuits, domestic relations, evidence, contracts, civil procedure, and legal ethics and professionalism, and realizing that everything I've learned in the classroom can be used in ways that affect real people's lives, and I'm just so excited about how the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. This job's been very hard for a lot of reasons, but for the most part there's no denying that I absolutely love what I actually do, and I also think it's a really great fit for my skills and personality and that I'm honestly really good at my job, which is a relief since I more or less committed to this career path before I knew if it was right for me! I'm not 100% sure that I want to go into litigation necessarily, which is what I'm doing now, but I do know that law is my niche in the wide world of careers, and I have found what I absolutely love doing and am good at, and have also found a place that I want to live after graduation. And I think that's enough to tackle in one summer.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Random Thursday Thoughts

I've been realizing that with only one (quite notable!) exception, the people at my law firm are incredibly FUN. And because we're a really small firm, I think we've been able to bond with each other in ways that would be unheard of in bigger firms. At some of the bigger firms that my friends work at, they are basically required to go to super awkward forced social events with the attorneys, like karaoke night and lake days, and I'm like, no thanks! I'm not a fan of awkward socializing with people that you know you still have to impress, whether you're on or off the clock. And because our jobs are incredibly stressful, we absolutely need to get along well and be able to laugh, and I feel like the intensity of our work has made us closer than ever. I think it also helps that only one person in the firm is over 30, because that means that us clerks and the "real" attorneys are pretty much all peers and can just be friends (and we clerks do everything the lawyers do, except we can't give out formal legal advice, can't argue in court, can't sign stuff, and have to have attorney approval for everything). And we legitimately have so much fun and laugh constantly. Everybody makes fun of everybody else, so you know that no one's going to get offended about it. We make up fun nicknames for our clients, laugh about all their crazy stories, and pile onto the couch in the front office to watch video footage of an exploding 2-liter of Coke that allegedly caused a personal injury (not really convinced that anyone got hurt too badly there!) We have lunch together every Friday and then our work productivity pretty much goes downhill from there. Most Friday afternoons involve a lot more hanging out in M.'s office cracking up about something than actually working. Last Friday night, we all went over to A.'s apartment, had wine and far too much kettle corn from Costco, and talked for HOURS. I think that's pretty much going to become an every-weekend event. And sure, I do feel like I still need to "impress" the attorneys to a point because I know they'll probably be writing me recommendation letters sometime soon, but I also know that nobody's judging anybody else, and I feel totally comfortable just being myself around them.

And as much as we laugh about some of our crazy clients, I've come to realize how much I care about them and enjoy them. Meeting with and helping to counsel clients on a personal level is hands-down my favorite part of this job and my passion. Making a client's day makes my day. I know that as an attorney I have to maintain some level of professional detachment, but at the end of the day, these clients are real people with real lives and I really, really care about them. I care about how my favorite client's back surgery just went. I care about the kids who need someone to help their parents get their acts together. I care about the smart and sweet professor who's trying to win custody, about the young couples trying to get divorced, about the young mother who needs help getting back on her feet after a serious car accident. I feel like it's kind of uncommon for attorneys to take a real interest in their clients' lives, and maybe I care too much, but I'd rather do that than not care enough. I enjoy being a marriage counselor, a therapist, and a friend to these people, depending on what they need at the time. Maybe I get too emotionally invested in it, because I've definitely already worked on cases that have kept me awake at night, unable to stop thinking about the people involved. The ones that break my heart are the custody cases where I know for a fact that neither parent is a particularly good one, and I just can't stop thinking about those children. And the things that some parents say and do to their kids make me so, so angry and sad. But then there are also those times when I KNOW that a case worked out the way it was supposed to, the way that was right, and those are the really encouraging ones. Anyway, I've pretty much found my calling, because improving somebody's life and protecting someone's rights is one of the most satisfying things in the world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stand Firm

Just a quick verse for the day: "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." --Isaiah 7:9

Saturday, June 22, 2013


You know, try as we might to predict and plan for the future, we never know what our lives are going to look like. And sometimes just thinking about all the possible permutations my life could take makes me feel almost breathless with the heady sense of possibility. Sometimes, something you never even thought about could end up being the path your life is going to take.

I've never really thought about starting my own law firm before. I always figured I'd probably do what everybody else does--interview, interview, and interview some more during my 3L year, and become an associate at a  firm, and eventually work my way up the ranks to maybe become a partner after several years. I'd work under other people and on their schedule and their terms.

But I don't have to do that. Two of my young, fresh-out-of-law-school attorney friends have begun thinking and talking, at first casually and now more seriously, about starting their own law firm and going into business for themselves, and one of them asked me if I would be interested in working with them if they were to go through with it. I would most definitely be interested! Of course there's a ton of things I would have to think about. They're not even at all sure if they want to move forward with the idea or not . . . the two of them are still determining how well they'd be able to work together long-term, and there would be hefty start-up costs and a lot of other issues to take care of first. I feel like a plan like that would probably be in the works for approximately a year, or more, before it really came to fruition. And I'd have to pass the bar exam before I could actually officially join them as a licensed attorney, even though I'm pretty sure I could work under them, with their supervision, in the months between graduation and getting bar results back in October 2014. But if we did this, it would be so great to practice law on our terms and according to our values. I wouldn't have a boss. I could work as much as I needed to work to get the job done, but I wouldn't have to bill a set number of hours or go on boring corporate retreats or anything like that. And pretty much the coolest part is that we'd all be partners of equal status in the firm--and so I'd be a 25-year-old partner at a law firm, which doesn't sound bad at all!

This might not happen at all, or I could of course decide that it's not right for me or that another job is a better fit for me. I haven't known these people for a very long time, either, so I'm obviously nowhere near ready to make any sort of decision, but fortunately we're not anywhere close to me actually needing to make a decision about it. It's still in the very early stages of discussion. It's out there on the horizon as a possibility, but sometimes possibility is the most exciting thing in the world. And you know, if I don't start my own business with these two people, I could totally do it with somebody else. That is a real opportunity that I could choose to take, even if I've never considered it before.

And then there are other thoughts I've been having in the past couple weeks too, about life after law school and everything I could do with it. There are some really beautiful neighborhoods up here, and I already can name three or four that I can easily see myself buying a house in if I decide to live here after graduation (and the house-buying thing is something I've wanted to do for YEARS. I really think I'm going to try to do that within the next 2 years or so). And I picture myself buying and decorating my own home in one of those pretty neighborhoods, and doing some landscaping. I picture myself carving out a niche in this exciting city I've already come to love, and maybe in a few years finding someone to share it with when I'm ready for that.

I think I let the future freak me out too much when I really need to take a step back and just be excited about the twists and turns my life can take. I don't have to plan it all right this minute. It's not like our lives typically go exactly according to our plans anyway, and that's totally ok. I need to learn to sit back and enjoy the ride more, without always trying to see what's around the bend.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Heroes Among Us

Today is Father's Day, and Father's Day is, of course, about honoring our fathers, but I also think it's about honoring, in more general terms, the heroes who live among us. And I just realized that when I really think about it, I know a LOT of heroes. And I feel blessed to have been able to do life thus far with so many amazing, classy, truly humble people, who deserve so much recognition but would never seek it out themselves.

Here are some heroes who are in my life now, or have been in the past:
  • my friend Susanna, who quit her job at a well-known law firm to work for an advocacy program that supports abused and neglected children. Oh, and to top it off, she took in four foster children--all under the age of seven. So now, instead of billing hours at the firm, she's taking her kids to the dentist, and teaching them how to pray, and loving on them. And that's being a hero.
  • my friend Krisi. I don't know how you spent your last spring break--probably on the beach, right? Well, she spent hers in the hospital. By choice. Over spring break, she donated one of her kidneys to save someone else's life. She is a hero.
  • one of my classmates, who pretty much every weekend can be found repainting someone's house, or mowing their lawn, or fixing their AC, just to serve them.
  • my dear friend in college who, even while he was dying of cancer mere weeks before his 21st birthday, spoke openly and often of how his illness had brought him closer to God and strengthened his faith.
  • a couple in my law school town who have become a lot like parents to me while I'm far away from home, and who fill in that same role for countless other people my age. They open their home all the time, they pretty much always have someone random living with them, and they give the best advice ever. They basically never have alone time--their house is always full of 20-somethings watching their TV, eating their food, having Bible studies, and swimming in their pool, and they never seem to mind.  
  • the teachers throughout the years who have invested in me tremendously and pushed me to get me to where I am today. Especially amazing teachers like my all-time favorite professor in college, who emailed me to tell me she was praying for me during a very difficult time during my senior year, and that she prayed I'd experience the peace that passes all understanding (this at my secular college, no less).
  • A smart and classy young lady I knew in college, who used the terrible experience of a sexual assault as a preteen to fight tirelessly to get stricter laws passed to help eliminate that sort of crime.
  • People like Haley, who I met last week when I went to a church event alone, feeling incredibly awkward. (No matter how old you are, walking in to certain gatherings by yourself, when you don't really know anyone, will never stop being awkward!) But she walked right up to me, started talking like she'd known me for years, and introduced me for the rest of the night to all her friends as "my friend Lauren."
And last but not least, all the dads among us (and moms, too!) And especially my amazing dad, who has been a hero in tons of ways over the years--giving advice, leading family devotions, reading to me when I was little, taking me to and from college countless times when I didn't have a car, running to the store to get ice cream for a houseful of women while we watch Criminal Minds, and serving in so many other ways.

Look for the heroes who live next door to you. They're everywhere. Honor one of them today.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Wonderfully Unproductive Saturday

Today has been pretty much the most relaxing day ever. I have pretty much done nothing all day, and it's been amazing. I slept in and didn't actually really get out of bed until after noon, because I was surfing the Internet, watching an episode of Friends, and doing a little journaling. Then I washed a bunch of dishes and cleaned my kitchen (ok so I did do one productive thing), and then took a really long meandering walk downtown. I went to Barnes and Noble and read magazines. I came back and took an approximately three-hour nap. (I do believe I am caught up on sleep now.) I did a lot more writing. Then I ordered in some pizza with chicken, pineapple, garlic, and red onion from this little pizzeria in my neighborhood, made brownies, watched some more episodes of Friends from the hilarious season 4, which is my favorite, and painted my nails bright green (I haven't had them painted all month because of trying to be professional for my job . . . but I'm pretty sure no one at my casual office cares what color my nails are). It has been so great to basically do nothing but sleep, write, read, eat, and watch TV all day. I feel more rejuvenated than I've felt in a long time. The stress of the past month has been really taking it out of me, but I feel renewed and after a LOT of therapeutic journaling, I feel a new resolve to excel at my job and have new ideas on how to handle its demands.

My journaling session also made me realize that no matter how the rest of the summer goes, I have accomplished what I came here to accomplish, and it feels so good. I came here to get over my fear of living alone in the middle of a huge city (check), to get over my fear of driving in a big city (check), to get experience that I can't get just anywhere (check), and to determine if I could live in a place like this long-term (yes, I could, in case you're wondering, and to my great surprise, I kind of want to! I'm seriously considering moving here after graduation). So it's been an encouragement to know that I did exactly what I came here to do, and it's been worth it just for that.

Tomorrow I'm planning on church and maybe going to see The Great Gatsby with Ashley, and then I'm taking Monday off just because. It's my mental health day. I'd like it to include some combination of library-hopping (going to 4 or 5 libraries in one day until I have, like, 40 books checked out), going to the nearby art museum, or going hiking, since there are some great trails nearby. It has been so good to have a day just to take care of me, and I need to make it a point to have days like this when I'm able to this summer because I need them. Work can wait. The Moot Court competition I have to plan can wait. Planning law review orientation can wait. This weekend, I am taking a break. :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Some Life Lessons That Everybody Needs to Learn

Here's my 24 tidbits of wisdom, as I recently celebrated my 24th birthday (some of these may turn into a blog post of their own--stay tuned):

1. It is amazing what you can do when you HAVE to do it--this applies to work, dealing with crazy people, finishing papers at the last minute, handling emotional events, finding random courthouses in a new city with no GPS and no smartphone, etc. If you absolutely have to figure it out, you will.

2. Along the lines of the first one--for many (but admittedly not all) things, if you want something badly enough, you'll probably get it. Because wanting it really badly makes you determined enough to work tirelessly for it--and it's usually the work, not the wanting, that ultimately gets you there.

3. Most of us are stronger and more resilient than we would ever think. And it's not till we are broken down to the core of who we are that we even realize it.

4. Writing is the best catharsis in the world.

5. It is not worth compromising your values for anyone--not your friends, not your boss, not anyone.

6. If you have to work hard to have fun and enjoy yourself with someone, that person is probably never going to be your best friend. Sure, friendships require work--but real friendships don't make you feel like it takes all the energy you have just to have a remotely good time with that person.

7. There's not much that ails you that a couple good phone calls with friends can't fix--or Skype, alternatively, for those that just have to live in foreign countries :)

8. Happiness is walking home from the library with an armful of books.

9. Continued, persistent, and principled disagreement with a person, an institution, a lifestyle, a belief system, etc. is not the same thing as ignorance. We play the ignorance card way too much in regular politically correct conversation, and I personally am over it. Disagreeing with something that you know and understand but simply can't get behind, for legitimate reasons you can clearly articulate, is the furthest thing from ignorance. And those who equate legitimate disagreement with ignorance are ignorant themselves.

10. Stop apologizing already. I apologize WAY too much--for stuff that is my fault, for stuff that isn't my fault, for stuff that is nobody's fault, before people even get mad, after they're mad, etc. I know you're always supposed to say you're sorry, and have known that since before kindergarten--but sometimes you shouldn't say you're sorry. Don't say sorry for things you're not responsible for. Don't say it just to prevent someone from blowing up at you. Don't say it when you don't mean it. Don't say it to defuse a person who consistently treats you like crap. Don't say sorry, stand up for yourself instead. You can, in fact, be too nice. It's ok to tell someone they are not treating you right.

11.  Let other people honor you instead of trying to honor yourself first.

12. Sometimes you have to do things because they are right, not because you want to do them, like being honest or sitting down and finishing your homework or not hitting the snooze button or resisting that doughnut or actually going to the gym.

13. You need to know the difference between whether YOU actually like something, care about something, and support something, or whether you just think you do because your boyfriend or girlfriend does. People who suddenly abandon all their old interests and adopt, like, 43 new ones as soon as they start dating probably aren't genuine about it.

14. Don't let people tell you:
  • that you need to know who your best friends in college are after two weeks, one month, or even one semester of school. You have four years, with new people entering and graduating each one. Your best friend your senior year is highly unlikely to be the same person it was your freshman year.
  • that you have to want something YOU know you don't want--a certain degree or career, marriage, kids, the list goes on. You're the one who has to live your life and deal with your choices, not the people who try to tell you what choices you have to make.
  • that the struggle and pain you're going through isn't significant or isn't worth the grief you feel over it. You know your own pain. Find people who will support you while you cry.
15. Eat breakfast.

16. If you say you're going to make a significant change in your life, talk it up, and go straight back to your old ways, you're going to look much, much more foolish than if you had just kept your mouth shut.

17. Religion and intellect/ intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Some of the greatest minds of all time have been devoted believers.

18. Do what you can, not what you can't. And always do the next right thing.

19. Don't park in the tow-away zone.

20. The vast majority of the time, you would never really want to trade lives, or problems, with somebody else, and if you could try, you'd probably want your own life back.

21. Some people just are constantly rude, unkind, disrespectful, and belittling. You'll never understand why and wonder how they can hate their lives so much. But on the flip side, some people are continually gracious, joyful, friendly, generous, and hopeful no matter what circumstances throw their way. Spend as much time as you can with people in the latter group and as little time as you can with those in the former.

22. Do free trials at every gym in your city before you buy a membership.

23. Be faithful in the little things. Seriously. This applies to work ethic, honesty, everything. If you are honest and trustworthy about very small things, no one will be able to accuse you of being deceptive with bigger things because your reputation will speak for itself. If you aren't willing to do the small things and the dirty work and the boring tasks at your job, don't be surprised if you never move up. Be the kind of person who, if anything needs to be done, you step up to the plate and volunteer to do it. If you think you're too good to file papers/ wait tables/ clean bathrooms/ anything else that needs to be accomplished, you may never be able to be trusted with greater tasks.

24. Your faith, your family, your friends, your reputation, and your ambitions are some of the most important things in the world.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy Happy Happy :)

Yesterday was about 100 times better than any other day I have had so far at this job, and I have been in the best mood ever since because I think I'm going to A) make it in the hardest and most stressful position I've ever had, and B) come to really enjoy it.

For one, the women in the office are just the best. Besides me, we have a 26-year-old attorney, a 65-year-old office manager, and a 30-year-old paralegal. They're all great, and I finally got to the point this week where I was warming up to them, feeling truly comfortable around them, and feeling like I could just be myself and not have to stress constantly about how I was presenting myself and about every word that came out of my mouth (and, it takes a lot of energy to monitor yourself like that all the time). Yesterday afternoon, most of the senior attorneys were out of the office (including, ahem, my difficult boss), and a couple clerks had taken the day off, so the four of us ladies crowded around in the paralegal's office and "filed papers" while talking and laughing about random stuff until we were all almost in tears. I can't tell you how much I needed to laugh like that. I don't know very many people in this city except for people from work and a couple law school friends who are also here, and so for the past few weeks, I haven't spent much time with people that I know really well and am really comfortable with. To put it simply, I haven't laughed nearly enough in that time because I've been so on my guard with all these new people. But yesterday I finally opened up and was sharing stories with them and laughing till I was about to wet my pants. It was great, therapeutic, and the best stress relief in the world.

And for another thing, I do feel like the Boss and I will have some issues this summer, but for the most part, I think I'm learning how to deal with him. So far, I've focused on being very direct, having very pointed questions, and not wasting a second of his time whenever I need to speak with him about anything, and that seems to be working ok. Oh, and I always bring a legal pad and a pen to take notes before I go talk to him about anything. (Life tip: Always, always have paper and something to write with before you talk to any senior attorney. Or else you'll be like me on my first day, when I was talking to one of the attorneys and didn't have a pen and started picking around on his desk and moving his keys and Post-its looking for one, and he was giving me the "Do NOT touch my stuff" look. Yeah, don't do that.) I'm not sure why this is the case, but my boss also never cusses when he's talking just to me, which is really nice because he normally does it all the time. Also, it's helped me a lot to realize that some people act the way he does because they're actually very insecure, and I think he's no exception. I've been trying to understand why he is the way he is, and to just realize that it is what it is, and poking some lighthearted fun at him with the ladies has helped too. :)

And to top it all off, yesterday A. and I totally dominated in court! (Just FYI, I'm going to start following that blogging convention of referring to some people by first initial only because I'm not sure if I should throw the names of everybody in the firm out there for the world. But that way I don't have to refer to everyone as "senior attorney 1," "senior attorney 2," etc.) Obviously I didn't get to actually argue the case or do the cross-examination or anything, but I basically prepared everything: I wrote questions for direct and cross-exam, I outlined all the issues, I selected all of our exhibits, etc. And I was really thrilled that one of the items A. introduced into evidence was something that was my idea to bring up! I was just like, I really think you need to use this item on cross-exam to impeach the witness and then get it into evidence. She ended up using it on both direct and cross-exam, and indeed, it got into evidence. She did a fabulous job all around, so I can't take too much credit for it, but it's kind of nice to know that my trial technique actually got successfully used!

So anyway, that's why yesterday was by far my best day of work so far, and I hope it's a harbinger of things to come. Today, I'm probably going to go see a movie or something, or do some fake shopping (the kind where I don't buy anything because I don't really have any money). And I need to once and for all get my room here in some semblance of order--I never really unpacked and put away everything I moved up here, like, 2 weeks ago. That changes today. And I'm finally putting up those posters and doing my decorating!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing.

Yeah, that's the way I feel every day at the firm! And honestly, I want to just shoot straight with our clients and tell them exactly that instead of beating around the bush and faking like I know what I'm talking about. Because I don't. I never know what I'm doing, but slowly but surely, I'm starting to learn. Thankfully, I not only can preface any statement to clients with this disclaimer, but am also technically obligated to tell them: "I am not your attorney. I am not AN attorney. I cannot offer you formal legal advice. Here's what I can tell you: _____. Oh, and by the way, you still need to talk to one of the four [real, licensed, official] attorneys." But yesterday in court and at the mediation I went to, I got mistaken, not once but twice, for being an official attorney. That's one mistake I don't mind, and besides, give it a year and it won't be. (I'm so excited!)

But I'm telling you, there's never a dull moment. Today I got yelled at by a client about how I and my coworkers need to "have integrity," etc., etc. (comes with the territory in the legal field, but girlfriend, please!), worked on a custody case, and got assigned to prep for a trial for a huge--and I do mean huge--medical malpractice case. Obviously I can't talk about what the case is actually about, but I've been assigned to research all the medical issues to determine what the actual standard of care was in the given situation, and how the doctors deviated from the standard of care, and to basically become a go-to expert in the firm on all the medical and scientific issues in the case. Working on all these personal injury cases has made me really appreciate all those biology and anatomy classes from high school, because believe me, they're coming in handy, especially when I'm given an assignment like the one I got last week: go through all the client's medical bills, and make your best determination as to what bills actually resulted from the injury/ accident, and what bills were entirely unrelated. Sounds pretty simple, but I was doing a lot of Googling to figure out what resulting medical conditions relate to what kinds of physical trauma and injury.

Law school is great and all, and I am not one of those people who supports ditching the whole institution in favor of just passing the bar exam, but I have to say that I have learned more in the past two weeks than I probably have in the past 2 years of school--BUT, that said, I couldn't be doing what I'm doing now without what I've learned from my classes. But there is no better way to really learn jurisdiction than to have to sit down and figure out what court, in what county, you can actually file an action in (and trust me, it is not that easy to know). There's no better way for me to reinforce what I learned in civil lawsuits than to actually have to figure out how to write a pleading in such a way that it would survive a 12(b)(6) motion, or to learn the rules of evidence than to have to determine if a certain expert witness would pass the Daubert standard. And I use my domestic relations class constantly, mostly with working on child support and custody issues.

So, I never really know exactly what I'm doing and I've had to get used to feeling stupid about 47 times a day, but hopefully eventually it will become like second nature. And this week I got such a great compliment from someone in the office: She said, "Your clients are going to absolutely love you, because you just make people feel so at ease and they just light up when they talk to you." I sure hope that's true!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Are We Going to Just Let This Happen?

Compassion for people in need, and helping people in need, is SO important. And for anyone who claims to follow Christ, it's simply non-negotiable. If we as Christians won't help those who hurt, who will? If we won't feed the hungry, visit the sick, and comfort the grieving, then who will? Forgive me if I get a little too preachy and long-winded in this post or if my writing is a little more raw and unrefined than it usually is, but this is just too important not to talk about, and this is one of my deepest passions.

The question that's been on my heart lately is this: Are we going to just let this happen? Are we going to just let people in Africa starve, or children in Romania freeze in the winter because they don't have warm clothes or blankets, or let people die of preventable diseases, or children be conscripted into armies and sex trafficking? And we can, of course, bring the question closer to home: Are we going to just let that fellow student be bullied and not be a friend? Are we going to let the struggling single mom end up unable to pay her rent and care for her children? Are we going to ignore the needs of thousands of children in foster care, or children who don't really have any adult they can look up to in their lives? Ultimately, are we going to leave our neighbor--whoever that is and whatever color their skin is and wherever they're from and whatever their "issues" are--laying beaten up by the side of the road?

Are we really ok with this?? When people just don't care about the needs of others, I just want to yell at them and be like, "Doesn't it even bother you to think about the same happening to you? Wouldn't you be hurting and lonely and desperate if you were in their situation?" Maybe we just lack the empathetic imagination we need, the ability to perceive the plight of others and to care enough to get off our butt and do something. How can it NOT bother you? Compassion requires that we be able to imagine the suffering of another, to put ourselves in their shoes, to, as a fabulous quote from To Kill a Mockingbird puts it, "step into their skin and walk around in it." We desperately need this empathetic imagination. I crave it. Lord, let me feel what they feel, cry with them and rejoice with them. I need to feel my neighbor's tears on my face and their smile on my lips.

And before I write another sentence, let me make a couple things clear. In my opinion, it is totally false that everybody should move to Africa/ Asia/ a Third World country to help with the need there, or that it's "lesser than" to be more passionate about helping people who hurt right here in the US, or in our neighborhood, than in foreign lands. I'm not going to mince words--it's simply B.S. to create gradations of compassion or to say that one person's way of showing it is less worthy and valuable than another's. I've read plenty of books that pretty much suggest exactly that, and I beg to differ. We're not all called to show compassion in the same way. We're not all passionate about meeting the same needs, and it is not my intention to guilt-trip anyone if some of the needs I've mentioned already are not where YOU feel led to pour out your efforts. In fact, maybe we'd have an easier time showing compassion if people would just stop judging how other people show compassion and shed the holier-than-thou attitudes like last year's fashion. No, we're called to rectify ANY injustice. ANY. Any sorrow or heartache, any pain, any loss, any desperation, any need.

And secondly, if you've read my blog for long enough, you know I'm not a fan of the "religion of social justice" and compassion is not what gains us right standing with God. But Jesus talked and talked and talked about helping the poor, the widow, the sick, and the orphan, and I just can't sit back and ignore it anymore. And throughout the Bible, God has always emphasized how desperately important it is that His people be a people who help. You can't say it much more clearly than it's said in Jeremiah 22:16: "He defended the cause of the poor and needy. . . . Is that not what it means to know me?"

Or in Isaiah 58, and this passage is so amazing I'm just going to copy the whole thing: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? . . . . If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." Spending ourselves on behalf of others . . . wow. That is the high calling we have.

And probably the most important statement Jesus ever made about this topic was this: "Whatever you do for the least of these, you have done for me." And I believe we could also say, "Whatever we don't do for the least of these, we have not done for Christ." Since Jesus didn't turn his back on me, I cannot--and I will not--turn my back on them. Jesus had the ultimate compassion. He wrapped himself fully in our pain and heartache. He walked among us and bled and cried and felt deeply.

None of us can give it all or do it all or be it all, but we all can do something! We all have either time, or money, or talent, or a VOICE to offer for people in need. It's time for us to start considering whether, by NOT doing anything,  we're acting like we're ok with it, and in our silence and in our inaction giving a tacit seal of approval to suffering.

For me, I am most passionate about helping children. I don't particularly see myself being a mother myself, but I have pictures on my fridge of the two beautiful little girls I sponsor in Africa and we write letters back and forth and I feel like they are "my" kids. I want to be an attorney so I can fight for children who have no voice, for children who live in abusive and broken homes, to give a future to children who don't have one. This fall when I start school again, I want to start volunteering at my local adoption agency. Maybe your passion is the homeless, or fighting for unborn children, or opening your home to people who've hit hard times. You decide how much you can give, and that's between you and God. No one is "better" than anybody else just because they happen to give more hours of their time or dollars from their pocket, or even a greater percentage of their overall resources. We are all called to help, to defend others, to fight for those in need, and to speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves.

Are you going to let this happen? If not, what are you going to do about it?