How To Remember Well- Thoughts on 9-11 & Fear Vs. Hope

11 Sep


Ten years ago I sat in Junior English class and heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. To be honest, I vaguely knew what the World Trade Center was. At sixteen, I wasn’t really into New York architecture. I knew about the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, but that was about it.  My world was all about the here and now, the drama of every day life. I lived in fear, but that fear was that I wasn’t as pretty as the girls in my new school, that I would never be good enough, that I was still too awkward and shy. I didn’t fear terrorists, I feared I would end up alone, that I would never accomplish my dream of being a writer.

Tragedy has a way of changing the priorities of our fears.

We gathered in the history room of my small Christian private school and watched in terror as the events unfolded. I remember feeling sorry for my History teacher, a darling woman who was the most patriotic person I knew. I watched tears openly flow down her face, her eyes red with shock. I don’t think I cried, I was too numb. Although New York was less then 300 miles away, it felt like a different planet, and seeing explosions on the TV seemed like good special effects in a summer blockbuster.

Fear has a way of causing us to live in denial and hope to God that reality isn’t what it seems.

Ten years later, and we’ve finally found the man believed to be solely behind these attacks. While it would seem that would alleviate our fear, it just doesn’t seem to have let up any.

Many say our threat of terrorism is just as strong, or worse. Even if the threat was gone, there will always be something else to fear.

Fear has a way of multiplying like a cancer and taking over. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, it is all destructive.

We fear unemployment, the economy crashing, government control, everything we know and love in this country ceasing to be.

We long for some political savior to ride in on his white horse and rescue us from our nightmares.

But this will never be.

As this peculiar group who claims faith in God as their way of life, we have another fear- the devil.

We haven’t met him, necessarily, but we’ve seen his attempt to mess with our “God-fearing” nation.

We fear evil taking over our country more then anything.

We fear our morals being pushed aside and “secularization” becoming the norm.

So we do what any Jesus-loving patriot would do- we fight it.

We picket. We protest. We preach against it. We speak against it. We try to pinpoint what went wrong, to find a source to blame.

And all the while fear breeds, takes over our consciousness, becomes our drug of choice.

Fear leads to more fear. Blame leads to more Blame. Hate leads to more hate.

Whether fear of Al-Qaeda, or conservatives fearing liberals pushing their “godless agenda,” it always leads to bondage and hate.

“There is no fear in love, perfect love cast out all fear.” (1 John 4:18)

 

The good news is: we don’t have to live like this.

(Breathe deep sigh of relief)

Whoever you blame for the state of our country, know that blame will always lead to bitterness, and bitterness will always lead to cynicism and the death of joy.

Even as I am writing this, I become face to face with my own hypocrisy because my own blame points to The Church. I get angry at our reputation to instill fear and hopelessness while we should be the last group on the earth to do so, yet I cannot allow this the lead to bitterness.

(I am part of the problem.)

Every fatal word spoken, every anti-people statement, ever finger pointed in blame, is all part of the problem.

Ten years later, I want to remember the sacrifice made by the heroes who responded immediately to the tragedy in New York, those who daily sacrifice in order to keep us safe, I want to honor those 3,000 who died. Yet, I completely miss the point if I let that negate remembering the sacrifice made by Jesus in order that we may walk in peace, freedom, love and LIFE.

The other night I went to a comedy show. My boyfriend made fun of me, because out of all the hilarious things Michael Jr. said, the thing that stuck with was the one serious thing he said. He shared how his goal in comedy used to be to get people to laugh. It is a normal goal to have as a comedian, and you wouldn’t think of it as selfish until you realized that the reason he wanted people to laugh was to validate his career. At a popular club in Los Angeles, he saw a homeless man hanging out outside and something in him shifted.

It was then he realized, God didn’t want him to get people to laugh, but to give them a reason to laugh.

As People of Hope, it is not our job to get people to change, to believe, to try to be like Jesus. It is simply our job to live love and that will give them a reason to laugh. To hope. To love.

I believe that the best way to honor this day is cut out the nay-saying and begin to speak words of hope over our world.

Our country.
Our church.
Our family.
Our neighbors.
Ourselves.

In order to speak hope, we must first open our eyes to see it- everywhere, all around us.

Jesus, redeeming the world. We are secure. Our future is certain. The war has been won.
For every judgmental blanket statement of blame made over a particular party, religion, or people group, let us be the ones who point out the loving individuals who break that break the stereotypes.

For every eye wide with fear after turning off the evening news, let us be the ones who soothe bristly souls with words of comfort and hope as Jesus did.

For every finger pointed in blame, every word written that stirs the need for revenge, let us be the ones who peacefully disarm, hand out grace like it’s bread for the starving, and live unconditional love until revenge loses its appeal.

This is how we remember well.

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