I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since the September day when our world changed in America. For some reason, I have been more nostalgic than usual today about it. I was not directly affected and yet my life was changed. I was sitting at a stop light when my phone rang. I don’t really remember where I was headed. My husband was calling to tell me he had been evacuated from the tower he was having a meeting in that morning. He was next to the IRS building in Cincinnati and there were still planes in the air at that time. I drove straight to my Dad and Mom’s house, where I didn’t let my eyes off the television for hours. Crying and praying, afraid for whatever was happening. A feeling I had never known in my lifetime.
I didn’t know anyone in those towers that day. I didn’t know anyone in the Pentagon, in Shanksville, PA or on any of the flights. I was just a young mom who suddenly realized the gravity of raising children in this world. (It was, for me, the beginning of realizing that we aren’t in control of life the way we’d like to believe). The beginning of God chipping away at my self-protection. The first step toward surrendering full control to the King of the Universe. Something I’d realize I need to do day by day, moment by moment for the rest of my life.
Perhaps this was the beginning of what has been a 15 year struggle with fear and anxiety in my life. Fear about more attacks on our county. Fear about war. Fear about flying. Fear about not making memories if we didn’t travel. Fear about whether my husband would wreck and die on his way to work each day. Fear about if my children would make it out of our home if we had a fire. Lot’s of fear about drowning. Irrational fears, rational fears, it didn’t matter, I have had them all. As I have reflected, I don’t remember a day that I struggled with fear before 9/11/2001.
A lot of life has gone by since that September day. This past year, God has been dealing with my heart surrounding my fear. Deaths, health problems, and injuries have forced me to come to grips with it. It is probably something I may battle my whole life, but I am most certainly in a different place. Not because I am strong, but because I am in a relationship with the One who is the strongest of ALL.
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10).
I have visibly watched God change my heart and mind. Perhaps I’ll never be able to live without fear in the same way that I did before that day, but I am beginning to believe that I can. I’m choosing to each day. I can also point to a couple of things I tangibly changed in my life to take control of this area. I didn’t realize at the time that this was specifically planned by God to deliver me from my paralyzing fear. (I don’t list this as a prescription, but more as a documentary of what God did in me).
1. I began to practice gratitude. Even (especially) when I felt sorry for myself. Through making a list in a journal each day of things I am thankful for as well as being intentional about praying “in thanksgiving.”
2. I took action. By a step of faith, I started a very small ministry to some local kids who are growing up in poverty. As a person who came from that place myself, I had chosen to never look back when I “got out” (I had also been ignoring the Holy Spirit leading me to do this for a while). By focusing on the needs of others I was much more able to withstand the difficulties I was facing in my own life.
Yesterday I read the most beautiful thing about this day of remembrance from Diana Oestrich at The Preemptive Love Coalition: “On September 11, we lost nearly 3000 precious lives. Our definition of security has been forever altered. Our children are looking to us for an answer to violence. They are looking to tell them how to walk in the precarious world they live in. What are we going to tell them? Let’s tell them how the terrorists tried to unmake us- and how, in response, we choose to love harder.”
Instead of focussing on the revenge that we as a nation promised to make on this horrible act, let’s point our children to the response of how we Americans came together and loved each other better (for a while). This has caused me to reflect upon where we are currently as a nation. I see a lot of fear, pain, anger and insensitivity toward others. Maybe we can take this day to apply that same lesson to our current state of affairs. We can listen and console one another’s pain (racism) instead of telling our fellow Americans to “get over it.” Maybe we can get up and take action against the things that burden our hearts (poverty, addiction, abortion etc.) instead of just complaining about them and expecting others to do the actual work of change.
How has this day of remembrance affected you?