I stumbled out of bed late (as usual) and raced to get my MCAustin shirt and my jeans on so that I would still have time to grab breakfast before we loaded up in the van to head to our first school of the day. We had been working with the NTD Youth Alive Seven Project, hosting school assemblies and late night youth rallies in Arkansas all week-long. Each day had been filled with excitement, caffeine, and stories of students giving their lives to Jesus. It was very fulfilling and I looked forward to more life-changing experiences each day. However, the morning of September 11th was met with another life-changing experience—this one a bit out of the ordinary. As I finished washing my face and putting my makeup on, I headed back into the main area of our hotel room. My roomies had just turned on the TV and we all watched in horror as the live footage of the Twin Towers falling played across the screen. We were confused and the entire moment seemed surreal. Flashes of the chaos replayed from station to station as we flipped through the channels, thinking it was possible we’d just been watching an action movie and not the news. No, it was real. It was here, on American soil—the tragedy was real.
We finished getting dressed and headed down to the lobby to grab our continental breakfast. Our group sat in near-silence, the only sounds coming from the turning waffle maker and muffin wrappers being opened as we watched the big screen in the dining area replaying the scenes we were desperately trying to make sense of. The moments and days following were met with fear, panic, and prayer. Yes, life moved on and as time moved on, we let the events from that day sit in the past, still quietly struggling to make sense of it all. As the months and years passed, the story was shredded by news reports, research analysts, conspiracy theorists, and the like. Each offered new information—some insightful, some healing, and some beyond far-fetched. Even to this day many are still trying to make sense of it all. Perhaps we’ll never fully make sense of it. We will, however, learn from it. We must. As our world continues to face tragedies like school shootings, chemical warfare, child slavery, bombings, hate crimes, and accidental explosions, we must remember. We must remember:
Life is precious.
Life is worthwhile.
Not only is unity vital, COMMunity is vital.
Every moment of our life matters.
Just as hope can be deferred, so can hate.
While world peace may be a far-off dream, living in peace with yourself and others is more than attainable today.
Our world may never be perfect, and that’s okay. Still, strive to make your world a better place without causing harm to others along the way.
We are not here to simply exist, but to challenge ourselves and others around us to reach a place of utmost love, understanding, harmony, and greatness.
Though the sorrow may last for the night, God’s joy comes in the morning. It
comes on the other side of the mourning as well.
Cherish each day that you are alive.
Live your life with purpose, for a purpose, on purpose.
To those who still struggle with the aftermath of 9/11 and other tragedies (global/local/personal) that have rocked this world, please know that you are not on this planet alone. You are not destined for defeat—you are destined for victory. Let someone in. Let truth in. Let love in. Do not let the senseless acts of the few diminish the hope, freedom, and life you can bring to many.
Shine bright in the darkness.