I rolled over and rubbed my eyes and looked at the ceiling. It was rolling up on 9am. I felt like garbage...I hardly slept - yet again, as my body fitfully and resentfully adjusted to the night shift for the first time in my life. I hadn't worked the night before, but I hadn't slept much either. My friends Renee, Lauren, and Kimberly were already up, brewing coffee and eating leftover Funfetti cake for breakfast. My apartment had become the post-college crash zone for my friends who were needing a place to stay when they were in town. Three of my besties from nursing school. I had recently bought a pull-out couch to accommodate their frequent visits. Maybe the night before had been the inaugural use of that awesome couch. I can't remember.
The sun was shining, it was a beautiful morning, and I stumbled out of my room and into the living room, feeling badly for already feeling spent and grumpy. I rubbed my eyes again and had barely gotten out the words, "Holy cow guys, I slept like garbage -" when the phone rang. It was my mom - and she told me I needed to turn on the news right away. We quickly turned on my rabbit-eared borrowed TV that sat on the bright blue footlocker I used for storage when I lived in the dorm.
Along with the rest of the world, we were shocked. Kimberly canceled the interview she had scheduled for the day. It suddenly seemed...I don't know, weirdly trivial to go on a job interview when we were watching people hurtle themselves out of windows from the umpteenth floor of a burning building. Along with the rest of the world, we spent September 11, 2001 in that surreal suspension of disbelief and confusion. It was weird and transfixing and incomprehensible how much our world would be sooo different from that very second forward.
I kept the front page from the paper the next day, with the best intention to follow the quagmire of political and religious events that led up to and unfolded on 9/11. But I was - and still AM - an unsavvy political idiot and could barely muddle through the thickness of it for more than a day. I knew that this would be a defining moment in history and in my lifetime but I could barely pull back the layers and understand any of them.
Shock dissolves into awareness...which dissolves into some semblance of understanding...which gives way to a new definition of normal...which becomes accepted...which settles back into apathy. The world is different, previously unheard-of concepts are now household terms (terrorist cells? jihad? insurgents?), and...well, that's just the way it is now.
As my quintissentially professorly Modern European History prof would always say, I would do "great violence" to the subject of the war in the Middle East if I were to speak to it (in other words, I would really embarrass myself with my comp-LETE ignorance), and I see both sides, for and against our involvement in the conflict. But here's what I do know:
1) There is good in the world, and there is evil. Call a spade a spade. There are evil people with evil intentions. The people who attacked our country were misguided, misdirected people who believed a lie and harbored evil in their hearts. If someone came after my child with any semblance of evil intention, you bet your boots I'd fight back with every shred of my being. I'm not all about fighting for the sake of fighting, but if it's to defend and protect what I love most, no doubt in my mind will I be a fighter. And a good one.
2) God calls us to defend the defenseless. There are defenseless people in the world under powerful political systems who need our protection, and if we don't, who will?
3) There are families who wake up and go to bed day in and day out praying that their husband, brother, and daddy will come home. They're proud of and believe in their loved one's call to honor, serve, and protect, but they'd give ANYTHING to sit down each evening for dinner with them...to hear the garage door open and see their car pulling up the driveway each evening...to squabble over stupid, everyday things simply because that means they'd be there...and they can't. Pray for these families and support them, whether or not you've supported the war effort. Pray for the Horn family as Nick serves abroad...pray for the Zembiec family, who are grieving anew today as they mourn the loss of their son Doug...pray for the Stanley family as Jason serves Stateside..
We are under the authority of an awesome God...awesome in the truest definition of the word. Our best life is not on this earth, and peace will not rule this earth on this side of heaven. It simply will not, as long as humans are a part of it and as long as evil is allowed free reign and we have the ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong. We ARE called to protect, to defend the defenseless and fatherless, to stand up for what's right. There ARE absolutes, and we need to protect those boundaries.
We'll never know the answers as to why those horrid events happened 9 years ago, why the Lord in His sovereign authority allowed them, the facets of war are awful and complex and are simply not black and white. But we all can be so grateful for the countless Americans who very willingly gave their lives over the course of history so we can have the freedom that we do, that is so a part of our makeup we don't even realize it's freedom - we assume it should be a given.
Take time today to remember where you were, how you felt, what you thought...and remember the people who did everything they could to save the people crushed in the rubble...and remember our soldiers and their families who are a part of a cause to continue to protect us and who don't always receive the support they need from the country they've sworn to defend.
I look forward to Christ's promised return, when real peace will truly reign!!