September 9, 2011 by greenhouse04
The 10-year anniversary of 9/11 is approaching. Unless you live in an insulated bubble, you are aware of this. Stories commemorating the event are in every type of popular media – I hear stories on the radio, read them in magazines, and watch them on TV. They are first-hand accounts of survivors, remembrances from those who lost loved ones, discourses from experts who have contemplated the meaning of evil and the place of God in all this, and on.
I honestly haven’t thought much about 9/11 in the 10 years that have passed since. At the time it was a scary, shocking event, but my life was full of other, more exciting and wonderful events that kept me in a busy, happy whirlwind.
I was 18 years old and a brand-new freshman at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I had never lived away from home before, and was relishing every moment of it. The big city was full of sights and sounds that excited me, and I stayed busy exploring it with my new friends.
The most important friendship I had already formed was with my future husband, Mr. Green. We met the first weekend we were at Moody. We were in the Moon building, getting our ID cards (needed to get into any building on campus). Our mutual friend, John, introduced us. My first impression of him was “wierd.”
By the week of 9/11 we were beginning to flirt shamelessly with one another. The weekend of September 8th my friend Grace set us up on our first date for the following weekend. On September 10th we both attended a radio recording of Micheal W. Smith singing his new song, “Above All.” “Like a rose, trampled on the ground, You took the fall, and thought of me above all.”
September 11th was a bright and beautiful day in Chicago, just as it was in New York. I had Old Testament Survey first thing in the morning with Dr. Marty. The class was held in a large auditorium with stadium-seating. The teacher was speaking from the stage, when a young woman came through a side door and walked up to him, whispering something in his ear. He just kind of laughed at her, and told her to go on so he could finish the class. He said she had told him about a plane flying into a building in New York, and he dismissed it as probably being a very small plane that accidentally went off-course.
When class was dismissed we made our way to chapel in the huge Torrey-Gray Auditorium. I don’t remember when I actually heard the truth of what was happening in New York, but when I made it to Torrey-Gray the news was being broadcast for us to watch on a big screen on-stage.
I and the other Moody students joined the rest of the nation in our feelings of shock and disbelief as we watched the news. Soon it was announced that all classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. We were also asked not to try to call our parents (this was before cell-phones were so prevalant) because the phone lines to the school were already completely clogged.
We were also informed that the entire downtown city of Chicago was being evacuated from floors 6 and above, which included our campus. We were considered downtown – I could see the Sears Tower outside my dorm window, and the Hancock was a mere half-mile away. The Sears was now the tallest building in the U.S., and many feared it could be a target. I lived on floor 7, and Mr. on floor 17.
The news was broadcast to us on all the available TV’s throughout campus. At lunch I watched as the source of the attacks became known, as well as the real possiblity of our nation going to war.
My emotions throughout that day were very mixed. After the shock and disbelief, I experienced fear and feelings of vulnerability. These emotions came strongly during lunch as I watched the news. I was comforted by professors and school leaders reminding us that our help comes from God, maker of heaven and earth.
But I also remember pleasant feelings from that day. Since we had to leave our dorm rooms we spent the day studying on the lawn outside. It was gorgeous weather, and I did not study very diligently, but goofed off with my friends and flirted with Mr. In the midst of it all, we were constantly reminded of what happened as we watched crowds of business men and women silently walking up La Salle Blvd on their way home from work in the middle of the day.
Another day that week looms large in my memory – the day of my first date with my future husband. That important event took place on September 15th, and was a wonderful experience. So you can see why 9/11 was at a time in my life when it was impossible and undesireable to be consumed with fear or grief.
Don’t get me wrong – the attacks on 9/11 were very momentous for me, and living in a big city seemed to bring them closer to home. For weeks afterward whenever I heard a plane, I would watch it fly over the city, almost positive it was flying too low and headed for the Sears or Hancock.
But at that time I was too naive and inexperienced to feel much more than passing emotions of shock and fear. I had never experienced true suffering in my life, had never confronted my own lack of control over events around me. Today, 10 years later, I am a different person. I have experienced my first deep grief, loneliness, self-loathing, and anxious waiting. I have lived with the ongoing sorrow of infertility. I am living with the worry over my foster-daughter’s future, and have faced the horrible possibility of losing her. I have faced the reality that I am not in control, that other people have my future in their hands, and that ultimately God does.
Because of this, I think I’m at a better place to contemplate what happened 10 years ago than I was when it actually happened. I can now imagine to a degree what the family of those lost went through. I can understand more of the fear and vulnerability both I and many others felt. I can better understand the fact that this world is full of evil – it is not confined to one event on 9/11, but it is seen and felt every day by people around the world.
Thankfully, I also have a bigger picture of and deeper faith in God. I know what it means to chose to trust Him – not when I feel like it, but even when I don’t, because it’s the only way I can make it through another day with my insanity. I know what it’s like to fall before Him with all my fears and confusions and questions, and let their constant noise be smoothed away by the knowledge of His power and love for me.
I can better identify with other disciples of Jesus who are carrying crosses, as they listen to His words:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”