On September 11, 2001, I was home with my two small boys watching "Zoomboomafoom" while I sat in my glider rocker nursing Josh, who was almost a year old. Mark called from work and told me to turn on CNN, so I did. Kenny (then five years old) and I sat with our eyes glued to the TV for the next 2 hours while Josh lazily napped in my lap, unaware of the unfolding tragedy. My body went stiff and tense when I saw the second building get hit. Later that morning, as the buildings toppled to the ground, I felt numb. I was less than 20 miles away from Ground Zero in suburban New Jersey. There were many people in our church who worked in Manhattan in the financial district. Over the next few months, we would hear many surreal stories from those we knew who witnessed bodies falling in front of them, saw their own cars get crushed, thought they may not make it out of Manhattan alive that day. For the past ten years, each September 11th has been a reminder of the unthinkable. More than once, I made myself go through the countless faces who fell victim to terrorism that day. I made myself look at each one to remember and pray for their families. The day had such heaviness attached to it, and rightly so.
Ten years later, on September 11, 2011, my son Josh made a decision that changed the way I'll see September 11th for the rest of my years on this earth. He decided to get baptized at church to publicly announce that he was a Christ Follower. In counseling, we call this a "corrective emotional experience". As I sat in church and watched him go under the water, I could visualize blackness falling from his skin and newness shining through him as he came up out of the water. He dried off and walked back towards me to pick up his sack of clothes, and I caught his eyes. I saw a renewed sense of peace and calmness and confidence looking back at me. He had a huge study bible in his hands, given to him by our pastor. Off he went to dry off and change and I held onto his bible for him. We sang that night....about Jesus and victory and newness of life. And I couldn't hold back the tears. For all the desolation this day has represented for the past 10 years, today was about redemption for Josh....a day I had prayed for all of his 11 years on earth. I knew that only God could do that in him....make him want to be clean and right with God. It reminded me that God is real and alive and at work in us...even in my two boys. And as dark and grueling as September 11th is for so many, God reminded me there is hope.