The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
I'm sure we can all go back to that day when everything changed. I look back to ten years ago and now realize that Steve and I were still newlyweds, without any children, living in a one bedroom apartment with Charlie (our dog). I was teaching ninth grade English at Edgewater High School in Orlando. I was in a portable that year, and it was underclassman picture day, which is crazy on the Edgewater campus. I remember bringing my classes down that day to the library and sneaking off to a tv while my crazy kiddos were on line to take their picture for the yearbook. It was palpitating. I remember talking about what this could all mean with my students as we huddled in our brown paneled room. I can still see the fresh faces in front of me and their names: Staci, John, Phillip, Betsy... Some of these kiddos are my "friends" on facebook now as they have now graduated from college and are in the midst of the beginning of their careers. I just feel very connected to them, partly because of that day.
I know everyone deals with tragedy differently. My husband deals by watching every news channel 24/7. I think he feels comforted by information. I tend to do the opposite. I get overwhelmed by images and voices. I would rather be by myself praying or anything other than sitting in front of the tv. Even today, I did not want to rewatch all of the news coverage, etc. It's still too much. I know by watching it I can't change it, I can't do anything about it. I feel helpless just watching. I know with prayer that God is listening and hearing my heart.
Many ask themselves how they are different since that day. I know I wanted, more than I already had, to make people feel accepted and loved, especially those who may have felt targeted or uncomfortable by the reaction to what happened. I still can't wrap my mind around why and how people hate Americans. I don't want to hate anyone. I don't want to play into all of that. I just want to love and keep an open mind because there's no way I can fully understand why people do what they do. My life is but a small dot on this vast mosaic. I just know there's a greater story than the mere black and white version some people quickly retell. There are many shades and undulations to one's story. So, I try to walk forward with a warm smile as I see people. I want people to feel that when they see me they get the feeling that I'm one who's willing to listen and understand the many layers to who they are. I hope I'm somewhat communicating that.
As this day closes, I lift up a prayer of comfort for those who are hurting today. I can't imagine the pain that aches in their hearts these ten years later and beyond. I just don't want people to be afraid. I want people to embrace what they can do and what each day has the possibility of holding.
Ok, going through the airport is totally different now. I'm fine with that. This past spring, going through the Heathrow Airport, I was felt in crevices I didn't know existed on my body by security, but I didn't mind. Going through Dulles on our way home, Jesse (at 6 months old), just landing on US soil and being granted a US citizen, was patted down and his diaper bag thoroughly searched. It was fine. This is what it is.
I'm an American. I am free to my opinions. I'm free to write this. I know that there are sacrifices that I cannot even comprehend that have been and are made for this freedom. I just don't want to take this lightly. I thank those who have given for me, the people I don't know, the people I will never know, the people who never planned on sacrificing for me and did anyway, from those who never though about if they would be giving their life for me to those who trained for such a time as this. It's more than I can wrap my mind around.
On another note, people talk about the concept of evil. Yes, I believe evil exists. I simply cannot deny that it does exist, especially when I think of that day. I, in my heart, know God is greater and bigger and most of all sovereign (a word I've used a lot over the past 12 months). But again, I have an accumulating list of questions for Him; this reminds me of one of my questions. Then again, if I didn't have questions, I wouldn't be here on earth. I'd be with Him with the answers. I think you just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other during times like this and just don't stop moving. He'll take us to where He wants us to be.
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