Like you, I have a 9/11 story.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that anyone alive that day who had access to any form of media has a 9/11 story.
I believe that we remember our lives by milestone events, by those things that shape us and it's usually only in retrospect do we realize that those events are our shared history.
On 9/11, we knew that we were sharing history that day. Knew that this was no ordinary news flash or special report. Knew in our gut that our lives - all of us - would change forever that day.
We didn't need a news anchor to tell us - we knew it in our first glimpses of gaping holes and burning buildings; towers of smoke rising from towers of steel and from a massive, jagged hole in the soil of our countryside.
And even if those images in and of themselves didn't squeeze your heart till it hurt, the humanity and heroism we witnessed in the ensuing hours and days surely did.
As I read through my devotional and Bible study the other day, the paragraphs and passages dealt with fear. The commentary that day talked specifically about one woman's struggle to get past her fears after the tragedy of 9/11, about how it changed her life.
And as I prayed and journaled, I asked myself "Did 9/11 really CHANGE me?" I know it affected me, shocked me, saddened me, angered me, stirred me - but did it really change me?
Always a patriot, I found myself feeling the pride of America stronger than ever, so yes, 9/11 strengthened my Patriotism. I wrote in my journal that yes, I made changes because they were forced upon me - think TSA - but aside from a new alertness and new rules to follow that clearly help protect us, did that really change who I am at my core?
I found my answer to be no, it did not. And here, I think, is why.
In a world full of evil and misery and pain that we see played out in the media each and every day, I have a hope that is sure and true and faithful. That hope, that truth that is my bedrock is what sustained me then and sustains me now. And the confident peace I feel that God is entirely in control of his creation is what reminds me that we are called to live out His purposes for us, His awesome plan for us. And He tells us to "Fear not." And He tells us to "Press on." And to "run the race set before us."
So while my memories of 9/11 ten years ago will be forever etched in my memory - as they should be as a testament to those who gave and sacrificed and showed great courage - my experience on 9/11 has not changed me, because of the unchanging, unfailing, always faithful God of the universe that I serve.
Several years ago, I attempted - poorly perhaps - to scrapbook a layout of that time as we lived it.
We were on vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia and as we prepared to go out that beautiful September Tuesday, we witnessed the horrifying scenes being played out on the television. I am forever grateful that Emma was not quite 4 years old - causing us to decide to go about our day and shield her from the non-stop tragedy on every channel.
I tried to journal about it, but I'm not sure I was able to capture all that I felt and believed.
But as I look once again at this photo of Mark pushing Emma on a swing, I think the greatest tribute to those who died that day, to those who lost precious loved ones; is to go on living, go on being and not BE changed by the evil that hurt us that day.
No, we will never forget - that's impossible don't you think?
But we continue to Hope and Dream and LIVE.
God bless you today and always,
God Bless America!