There was no one I knew personally who lost his or her life today in those tragic and horrific events. In my life, I have seen tragic events. The attempted assassination of President Regan when I was in the 3rd grade, the Space shuttle Challenger exploding as a freshman in high school. However, nothing has quite shaken me to my core like the events of September 11, 2001. I attribute this event to what it was for your grandparents when John Kennedy was assassinated and it devastated the world.
That year I woke up just like any other day and went off to work. Mom was home with Ashleigh, Reece, and Sophie. I had picked up folks and was headed out to the farm to start the day. I was out by the Wood Village exit when I turned the station and heard the news. They did not have enough information so we were just getting breaking news. I called your mom and woke her up, none of you were awake yet, and I told her to go and turn on the TV and find out what was going on. I made it to work, turned on the radio, and listened off and on throughout the day to hear more, but because of our jobs, we had to focus on the clients. The events sounded horrific and like nothing, I could even begin to imagine. After work was over, I took clients home. Traffic was really horrible and it took me an extra hour just to finish. I was going to head to my men’s group, but due to traffic decided I was going to head home. When I got home none of you were there, mom had taken you to visit your grandparents and I was home by myself.
I turned on the TV and watched repeatedly the events that I had heard described through the radio all day. I sat there motionless staring, unable to move, tears pouring down my face, sobbing at what was happening before my eyes. I was shaken to my core in a way I do not know that I can even begin to explain. To this very day any time I talk about it, close my eyes and see those images I am moved to tears. Why I have no idea, but there is nothing else I have ever experienced in my life that has had the effect this does.
Here it is 10 years later, so much has changed. Three more children have joined our family, we have moved, we have international students living with us, we have changed churches twice, you 3 older kids have all been through grade school and are now in middle school and high school. Life has changed for so many people.
As the days unfolded after the events, for the very first time in my life I was actually proud to be an American. I saw our country come together, support, love, aid, and comfort and turn back to God, looking for answers to questions that appeared to have no answers for many people.
One thing to be sure of, since that day, much has changed for many people. I think it made people realize EVIL really is in this world. EVIL seeks to destroy whatever it can get it hands on. Bad things happen because sin entered the world years ago when Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God. Bad things happen to good people and bad people alike. No one in this world is immune to the effects of sin. It is hard to accept and understand many times, but you do not have to live very long to fully understand it.
While I wish, I could protect you from the evils of this world I cannot. I can tell you it is not fun and on some occasions, it feels like a living hell. From my experiences, you cannot always make it better. Time will pass and soon life with throw something else at you that will shake your life. My hope is that you know and experience love. Your mom and I love you more than anything in this world. You were loved and wanted from the beginning and you will be loved and wanted until my dying breath.
Hate is horrible and can destroy people, worlds and nations. If left unchecked, it has the power to take the very life God breathed into folks. Hate is all around us, waiting to get its grip on us, to squash the love inside us and motivate us to see and treat people in ways you would never think of. Hate can taint your view of others, it can cause you to want to lash out and react. Hate can destroy the very life God distinct hands created for a purpose. Whatever you do, rid your life of hate. See all people in the light of God’s eyes. See them as unique, gifted, talented, and full of hope and purpose; see them as something special to enhance the world in which we live. Love them with all your might; love them when they are unlovely and despicable. Love them even harder when you feel even the slightest bit of anger or bitterness creeping up inside.
Your love for another person may be the one thing that changes his or her life forever. As I reflect back on this day, I am still moved. I am sorry men held onto hatred so bitter and wicked they took the lives of others. I am sorry they believed in and followed hatred so strong, the ripple effects of it is still felt today. Love each other, because after your mom and I are gone, you are all you have of our family. Take the love your mom and I have for each of you and spread it everywhere.