I meet all sorts of people at work.
A couple years ago, I deposed a woman who was a plaintiff in a wrongful death case. She was suing my client, the manufacturer of a doggie door. One day when she wasn’t paying attention, her two year old child crawled through a doggie door of the family home, went into the back yard, fell into the swimming pool, and drowned.
The woman was overcome with grief and anger that was directed at both at herself and my client. She blamed herself for not paying attention during those few critical minutes when she left her son alone because she was distracted by something else. She blamed my client for not being able to foresee that a human being, and not just a dog, could crawl through the door and face danger.
There were ten people in the deposition room and I don’t think even one of them left without crying at some point. Not even the “good ole’ boy” seasoned attorneys who had been practicing for decades.
As she spoke through tears, it literally felt like my heart was vibrating with sadness. You hear the term “soul crushing” routinely overused, but that’s exactly what this was.
This woman felt like a terrible mother and a horrible person. She often contemplated suicide. She felt alienated by friends and family. She felt like she did not deserve to feel happiness for the rest of her life and each time she laughed was a show of dishonor to her deceased child. She honestly believed she should suffer for what she allowed to happen to him. She felt like a fool. She was routinely tormented by her mistake in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, and negative self-talk.
A mother myself, her testimony was especially painful because I thought of all the times I “looked away for a second” but that mistake wasn’t met by the same tragic result as hers.
And you know what- we are all that mother. We have all looked away for a second, whether it was near a body of water, a busy road, or a crowded public place. It only takes a second. None of us is perfect.
This woman struggled to find meaning in the tragedy, struggled to find meaning in her child’s life, and struggled to find meaning in her own.
I will not for a second pretend to know what it’s like to face this level of tragedy. I will not for a second try to act like I have a clue about what it’s like to walk in this woman’s shoes. But during that five hour deposition, I wished that woman could see herself how God sees her. I wished she could see and know she is loved and priceless and forgiven. I wished she knew she didn’t have to beat herself up anymore. I wished she knew that moving on with her life didn’t mean she was dishonoring her child’s. I wish she would stop telling herself so many lies.
In some ways, we are all this woman. We all have lies we tell ourselves. Those lies are about our relationships, our careers, our families, and especially about ourselves.
We need to learn how to recognize those lies. We need to replace those lies with God’s clear and unequivocal truths. When we are sitting in the dark with those lies, we need to start asking ourselves who we are going to believe: the lies or God?
Remember this and believe it.
You may feel unimportant and overlooked, but God says you are His child. John 1:12
You may feel alone, but God says you are His friend. John 15:15
You may feel you are not liked by your family or other people, but God says you are loved. Colossians 3:12
You may feel confused, but God says you have wisdom, righteousness and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30
You may feel unloved and tarnished, but God says you are chosen and holy. Ephesians 1:4
You may feel like you are a bad person tarnished by past mistakes, but God says you are redeemed, forgiven, and an overcomer. Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 5:4.
You may feel powerless, limited, and like you can’t go any further in reaching your goals, but God says you can do ALL things through Him. Phillippians 4:13. Notice he didn’t say “a thing” or even “some things,” but ALL things.
When you hear the lies, who will you believe? Yourself? Other people? Or God?
Note: I don’t know what ultimately happened with this woman, but the Court dismissed the matter as to my client, finding no liability. That case was so long ago, but I still think of this woman nearly every day.