Hey, friends! (High-five here).
I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back. And by back I’m not just talking about being back for another Monday Mayhem to kick off a brand new series on life verses. No! I’m talking about being back to being me. You know, the who-I-am-in-Christ me. The unconditionally loved me; the more valuable than all the power, fame, fortune, etc. in the world me; the not separated but set apart from the world me; the I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me me; the nothing is impossible with God me; the I know how blessed I am me; the my life has purpose me; the I am washed in grace and mercy by the blood Jesus shed on the cross me. And so many more me’s grounded in Truth. I’ve even added a bit more me to me; “That’s right, Satan, I’m onto you, so you better be watching your back” me.
Yes, friends, it’s good to be back. (And if you missed my previous Faith-Full Friday post, “Baited, Shipwrecked, and Rescued,” you can certainly go back and read it to find out how low I could go…or how low I actually went).
In Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Infamy” speech, then President Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a “date which will live in infamy.”
Fast forward 60 years to September 11, 2001, and we have another “date which will live in infamy.”
That day 2,996 people died and more than 6,000 were injured.
September 11, 2001 is undoubtedly one of the darker days in our nation’s history that has had lingering effects.
I personally don’t know anyone who lost his or her own life or the life of a family member or friend in the attacks, but my husband David happened to be living in New York City at the time. He worked in security management for a hotel near Madison Square Garden, roughly 2.5 miles from the Twin Towers.
Frankly, he doesn’t talk much about that day-just gives a few snippets here and there rather randomly and infrequently.
What I do know is that his hotel harbored many of the local firemen and policemen tirelessly and heroically working around the clock to help rescue the trapped and injured and, painstakingly, recover the dead (at least pieces of them). I know that he became a listening ear for the firemen and policemen who completed multiple 24 hour shifts and looked forward to the shower and bed that might provide some sort of physical and emotional relief. I know that he knows what death smells like because it clung to the rescuers, filled the hotel, and lingered in the breeze for weeks. I know that he doesn’t like to talk about it and when he does, it’s hard.
I happened to be living in Virginia at the time and had just finished my Master’s in English about four months before. I worked as a part-time administrative assistant / part-time English teacher for a nonprofit organization.
I was running work-related errands when I heard on my car radio that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. By the time I reached my ending destination, the school, the second plane had crashed.
I pretty quickly decided that I would ditch the lesson I had planned for the day so that my students and I could talk about what was happening only 9 hours or so away from us. I wanted to talk about the people who lost their lives and the people whose lives would be forever changed when they found out someone they loved had lost his or her life. I wanted to talk about what this meant for our country [even though I had no idea then just how much and for how long (forever) we’d all be affected].
I wanted to talk about the tragedy of the whole situation.
But my devastated tears were met with sarcastic quips and non-interested stares….
Most of my students (there were only 6 or 8 in the class) preferred to talk about other, inappropriate, things. And my redirects to get us back to what was happening to our country seemed to only encourage more inappropriate conversation.
So exasperated, I gave up trying to talk about it (and probably went on with the original lesson I had planned though that part of the memory is a little fuzzy) because they just didn’t care.
They. Didn’t. Care.
Did I mention that on September 11, 2001, these students were living in a group home for at-risk and troubled teens? That the school I taught at was the community school of the group home where the kids currently lived after being removed from their own homes?
One seventeen year old girl who I was particularly fond of (she loved to read and write) had been removed from her home because her mom was a crack addict.
Another fourteen year old girl who threatened to slit my throat one time because I made the mistake of good-naturedly (or at least I thought so) teasing her was there because her grandfather had at least tried to molest her.
One thirteen year old boy (he was always so sweet, kind, and respectful to me) was there because he tortured and killed animals.
One fourteen year old boy had been removed from his home because he was already a serious drug addict.
Another sixteen year old boy was there for molesting his 7 year old sister.
One fourteen year old girl had been so brutally raped by close to 20 gang members, she would never be able to have children.
I could go on.
I’m not trying to diminish the tragedy of 9/11 when I say that my students didn’t care about 9/11 because they were living 9/11. These kids, really, some of them weren’t much older than my oldest son is now, experienced tragedy and devastation every. Single. Day.
Looking for love in all the wrong places, most of the kids did drugs, drank, smoked, had sex whenever and with whomever, and worse.
And statistically and culturally speaking, most of these kids had already been given a death sentence, at least of sorts. Destined to be drop-outs, addicts, criminals, menaces to society, willing participants in a continuous cycle of destruction. Set aside (or pushed aside), separated from the rest of society that deemed them not worth saving.
I know now that it really wasn’t that they didn’t care, it was that they couldn’t care, not when their young lives were so overwhelmed by their own, devastating losses.
As September 11 inches closer and closer, I’ve been thinking a lot about those rejected; used; physically, emotionally, sexually abused; shamed; discarded; neglected; abandoned boys and girls who are now men and women.
My prayer is that they know (or will eventually know) “…the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
Our new series is on life verses, verses that hold special meaning and purpose to a believer. Join me Friday when I reveal my life verse that affirms how God’s love is ever present and never changing.