I’ve been putting off writing about this for some time…I’ve known that I should…I just couldn’t. Most of you know about the poisoning that we went through a few years ago. Many of you know about the illness, medical procedures, and and wrestling with God that were part of my path to recovery. Some of you even know about the legal battle that ensued for years. Very few of you know about the day I had to sign it all away.
When the D.A. said that they couldn’t keep the jerk in jail because state of mind couldn’t be proven and there were no laws on the books to help us (nothing like this had ever happened before) I began to deflate. But then, he looked me in the eye and said “But…you have one hell of a civil case.” It. Was. On! That was just the thing I needed…a project…a mission…a hope. I had collected so much evidence and data: medical proof of my liver, pancreatic, and brain damage from the poisoning…out-of-pocket bills because insurance companies didn’t cover what they couldn’t understand…chemical reports from the city, TCEQ, and home-owner’s insurance companies on the presence of the toxins in our water supply…dental records from having to get all of my dental work re-done because the chemicals ate all of the fillings and crowns out of my teeth…pictures and documentation of our yard being dug up so that all the pipes, water meter, and toxic soil could be removed and disposed of in a manner that wouldn’t expose others to this…and so very much more. I immersed myself in pulling together this data for a lawsuit. And together, with our old neighbors, we filed a civil suit.
This went on for years…it was time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting. The day came when we all went to court…and we won…we won big…over $2.5 million big…and I was happy…well…happier…it still felt a bit hollow because I was still sick. But at least now, I could provide financially for medical treatment if the kids got ill again.
That’s when the letter arrived. He was declaring bankruptcy. Our lawyer wasn’t worried…a large portion of our “winnings” was punitive and a judge wouldn’t overlook that he said. But thanks to a very shady bankruptcy attorney, a few lies, and a judge that wanted her docket cleared, he was able to be declared bankrupt and I was ordered to release him from his debt. What’s worse? I also had to sign over my children’s rights to hold him liable in the future should they get ill again. I consulted with several different lawyers before complying…but the day came that I had to do it.
I walked into my bank to get the documentation notarized when I signed it. The notary was very friendly and chipper. I remember everything about her office as I sat there devastated and holding that pen in my hand: the certificates framed on her wall, the wooden executive desk, the padded but hard chair I sat in, and the carpet…it was that grey, commercial-type carpeting…and I was staring at it as I watched my tears fall down and make darker grey spots. My body felt numb and my brain was mushy. Signing away the lawsuit felt so unceremonious compared to everything we had encountered to be awarded our “winnings.” There was no judge in a robe, no lawyers pontificating, no highly-polished wooden railings, no swearing to tell the truth…there was only that ugly grey carpet and that immensely heavy pen in my hand. And it was over.
Dammit! How could everyone around me just walk around normally and happily while my entire world had just stopped?! It was one of my worst days for sure. But eventually, I began to notice that the sun still shined, my kids still laughed, and the world was still spinning because life continues with or without me. And, light began to dawn: I needed to lose this in order to gain something greater. For years, I had been consumed with this lawsuit, with justice, with what had happened to me and my family. Getting money was not going to make me well. It wasn’t going to prevent my kids from getting sick. It wasn’t going to take away the feeling of being a victim. And it could never produce joy. Sheesh! For a reasonably smart person, I can sure be dense!!! See, I had been depending on my own strength…and I was never meant to. I had edged God out of this situation…I was saving myself…or attempting to anyway. My strongest efforts were insufficient because control was an illusion that I was chasing. The truth of the matter is that my lack of faith in God to provide for my family, heal my body (which he has continued to do), and issue justice was evidenced in my “mission.” That is what I had hoped in…and it’s a piss-poor substitute for what my hope should have been in.
What about you? Where is your hope? Are there areas of your life that you are trying to hold out of God’s reach? Do you chase after control or do you see it for the mirage that it really is? Is there something you should be handing over to God but you think it’s just too painful to let anyone else handle it? My experience? God is good and he can handle your stuff.
My prayer this morning is that we would all pursue God’s strength more in our lives and quit white-knuckling our “stuff.” Much love friends,