A Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Thoughts

This morning I woke with that same somber cloud of quiet sadness that has hung in the air every September 11th since 2001. I don’t know why, but going to bed last night I thought this morning would feel different from all the other years. Fourteen years has not changed anything. I still want to cry and I still have trouble believing what happened as I, and millions of others, relive the hours and days of that tragedy.

Funny the things I remember most, beyond watching the news unfold around me. I remember wondering if I should go to work only to get the call that we were evacuating to be safe. I wondered how to explain this to our daughter because we would have to tell her. The Pentagon was just a few miles away and well, everything was changed. We called friends and family to make sure they weren’t in the Pentagon that day and we called simply to say, “I love you.” I remember the silence that evening more than anything else. Living outside of Washington, DC the sky was always full of planes flying over and cars rushing between work and home and sports fields. Not that night. All we could hear were fighters flying over for our protection. That night we drove to churches to pray. We walked the streets in dark quietness because all the stores were closed. As a nation, we simply shut down.

In the days following we were changed people. We cried openly at work and in the grocery stores, and people placed their hands on our shoulder because they understood. We let people pull out in front of us and nodded in shared grief. We held onto our children and wondered if it was safe to let them continue to live. We were kind and gentle with each other as we processed what was happening in the places near to us. We came to understand that we had to get back up and live our lives to show the world and the people who wished us harm that we were stronger than them. We had to show we were a nation united and that together we would recover.

As you head out today under the cloud of such enormous loss, I pray that you will remember who we were for those few days after. We are still kind, compassionate, praying people. We can still set aside our political and religious bickering to find a way support each other. We can still let someone pull out in front of us and not blow our horn when someone doesn’t move as quickly as we think they should. We can still help our neighbor if they are struggling. We can still ask a stranger if they are ok. We can still gather together, hold hands, and pray for our country. We can rise up from the ashes of that day and honor the memories of 9/11 by being good to one another. Who knows, maybe today could begin anew a nation where we turn off the TV and turn to our families. Maybe today we will pick up the phone and check to make sure a friend is doing ok. Maybe tonight we will remember to say prayers with our kids and tell them how we love them. And maybe tomorrow we can carry on as if every day is the day after.

Dear Lord, out of the shadows of our grief and sadness may we find new hope and light. Lord, make us a people who care for one another, who help each other, and who pray for our nation. Lord help us to remember out of evil, good will prevail. Make us a people of compassion with giving hearts that change our neighborhoods and that brings renewed joy and hope for the future.

©maggiemarcum.com

Advertisements

Forgiven with Love and Compassion

It took me a long time to accept that this Jesus whom I claimed to believe in would actually forgive me for the things I had done, and would do, in my life. Yet Jesus gave us the prayer in which he directs us to ask for forgiveness—and to forgive others (Matthew 6:9-15). He tells the paralyzed man that he, “the Son of Man have the authority on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6). He even forgave those that crucified him, and yet, I couldn’t believe that he would forgive me and my sins or acts of bad behavior.

I didn’t know about “unfailing love” or “compassion” growing up. There were expectations and measurements for good and bad behavior and I believed I usually fell far below any set standards. I was usually told that I didn’t measure up and would never measure up at the rate I was going. Even after committing my life to Christ in my 30’s, I still felt judged in my churches and less than worthy to be there. I may have been judged by some, but mostly I was judging myself and comparing myself against other people—who were most likely hiding their own shortcomings and failures behind a mask of service and pasted on smiles. I constructed my own roadblock to accepting the love that I read about and believed was only given to the really good people surrounding me on Sunday. I heard stories of change and mercy given but I didn’t think that was meant for me.

And then, sitting in the chairs at a prayer service one night, I finally gave in. I laid down on the floor facing the cross and I said “I’m sorry for what I did.” I cried and began to let go of the things I was holding on to. I began to walk through my youth and my brokenness and to ask God to forgive me for those things. One-by-one, he brought to mind those times I hurt others or hurt myself by my behavior. And one-by-one I felt the burden of carrying that shame lifted from my life. Little by little, I came to believe that God loved me, ME personally, just as much as the nice person sitting next to me on Sunday. Little by little I came to know his mercy and layer by layer he changed my life. I started to laugh again. I could hold my head up. I could smile at someone and reach a hand out and tell them God was there, I was there, and we would make it out of the dark together. Just as I learned to see how God sees me, I am learning to see others as he does, with “unfailing love and compassion.” May you too come to know that peace—it is a prayer away.

“Remember, O Lord, your unfailing love and compassion, which you have shown from long ages past. Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.”
Psalm 25:6-7 New Living Translations