Where were you when it happened? I know you remember. Everyone does. Do you remember how you felt as the news accounts revealed the horror of the 9/11 attacks for the very first time? Did you go numb as the day progressed, and it was the only thing anyone could talk about? Did you feel incredibly sad, and burdened by the realization that things would never be the same again? Did you wonder what you could do, as a member of the human race, to try to fix things? To do something?
For me, it is yes to all of the above. I know it is yes for most of the people I know. My co-founder, Sarah, wanted to joined the military to protect the country she loved. Many others did the same. I couldn't, I wasn't at all qualified or even at a place in my life where I could go and do that, and I felt so darned helpless. But I did pray. I prayed hard and long for people I didn't even know. I prayed for my country. I prayed for our leadership. I prayed for the families who lost loved ones. I even prayed for those who committed the crimes.
I wanted to understand. I realized I had been living in a bubble - and it was one in which I just assumed the United States was a blessed nation above all others. I assumed we could never be touched by such atrocities. And because I assumed that, I never gave much thought to those in the world who constantly lived with such threats. It didn't affect me, so I didn't think about it.
But I changed on 9/11/2001. The attacks on our country were wrong in every sense of the word. Innocent people died by the scores and innocent families were scarred for life. I had a choice to make that day. I could turn off the television and put walls around my heart so it wouldn't affect me. After all, I didn't personally know anyone who died - so I could, essentially continue life unchanged.
Or, I could open my heart and mind to the world around me. I could allow myself to experience pain on a level I hadn't done before. I could allow myself to be affected as a member of the human race. And that's what I chose. I cried tears for people I didn't know, and I found a new depth of compassion for my fellow human beings that I had never explored before.
I began to be affected by what I read in the news. I could no longer read or watch stories of innocent people who die anywhere in the world without feeling an ache in my heart, without wondering about their families, their lives, their hopes, their dreams.
My heart changed. My prayer life changed. My apathy is gone. I realized the most powerful thing I can do is to love more, to reach out to the people who come into my life and do my best to show them that they matter. I can listen more. I can appreciate and pray more for those who stepped up to defend this country. I can make the effort to connect with all kinds of people and let them know I care. I can let them know God cares.
9/11/2001 changed who I am.
Did it change you?