This week marked the 13th anniversary of that terrible Tuesday now called 9/11. I was humbled and touched as my friends shared their stories of where they were that day. Not a single person has forgotten where they were or what that day held for them. And as I thought back on my 9/11, I remembered some significant faith-building experiences that I wanted to share.
I was a brand new college graduate, living in my first apartment, with my first job. I was getting ready for work and listening to the morning news when they said a crop duster hit the first tower. It was a spiraling nightmare from there on out. My little brother worked in Tower Two of the World Trade Center, and I worked frantically to reach him or my parents to confirm he was ok. We hadn’t been close during that time. And when I learned from my Mom that he was alright I vowed to change that. He was among the many who were blessed to be running late that day. And he had started a new job in a different area just the day before. I could see the hand of the Lord in that timely job change, and I am SO grateful!
But for me, the miracles didn’t start that day; they started a few days before. My handsome husband and I had our first date on September 9th, two days before. He took me to an evening gathering at the LDS Conference Center where we got to hear Gordon B. Hinkley (the prophet at the time-he has since passed away) give a devotional. I’ve looked for the transcript of that evening, and could only find a video/audio recording. You can download it here: https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/archive/ces-devotionals/2001/01?lang=eng His address was titled “Be not afraid, Only Believe”. And its timely message built my faith that my Heavenly Father knew what was coming and wanted to encourage and support us through it. I’ll never forget one line in President Hinkley’s address. He said that there were dark times coming, and many would despair. But that we should have faith, for God was still there.
I thought of his words as I watched the T.V. they brought into work that day. I saw the fear and anguish on the faces of those in Manhattan and my heart ached with them. I thought of his words as I felt like the world was ending as more and more planes crashed. It was one of the worst days of my life. But through it all I had the comfort of knowing that this day was not a surprise to my Heavenly Father. That He was still in the heavens, and He was still aware of me and of all of us. And that He would not leave us comfortless.
You may ask why God lets things like this happen, when He knows they will, and since He has all the power in the universe. A long time ago I asked the same question. And here is what I learned: 1-God doesn’t take away our freedom to choose. That’s why so many people were delayed, or had moments that kept them from being where they would normally have been. He couldn’t take away the freedom of those evil men, but He did all He could to reduce the damage.
2- God sometimes lets bad things happen because these trials bring us spiritual growth and bring us closer to God. I still cry thinking of all the people who died that day. I wish I could change it. But I know God loves those people and He took care of them and they are beyond where anything can ever hurt them again. I know that He loves those who mourn for the loss of so many. His comfort and mercy and love is there for all who reach out for it. He is strengthening souls, and He knows how to best comfort His children.
3- With every terrible event that happens, there are human angels that come out of the woodwork. I’ll never forget the pride and love I felt watching all the first responders on 9/11. They were brave and bold. I know they saved countless lives and many lost their own. Mr. Rogers said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Those helpers take some of the pain out of tragedy and warm my heart.
And finally; 4- God’s justice will one day make all this right. We all have moments of righteous anger and imagine how we would deal with the ‘bad guys’. My young son often tells me that he would beat them up. But God is far better at handing out justice. And in letting go of our anger and the accompanying darkness that damages souls; and by trusting God, my soul is free to love and live in the light and the peace of faith. As someone once said “Anger is the poison you swallow hoping to kill someone else.” In the reassurance of God’s justice I am comforted that I don’t need to know everything because He has it covered.
Above and beyond anything else I’ve learned is that my life is always better when I am living in line with God. All my trials are easier with Him by my side. It’s not my natural state to be peaceful in stressful times. But every time I slow down and quiet down, I see His hand reaching out and handing me blessings even in my darkest times. I know it has been a few years now since that tragic day. But it still seems so fresh in my mind. And I know there are thousands and thousands of lives that were permanently changed because of it. I just pray that every aching heart will find comfort and peace. And I’m forever grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who sees our needs and gives us the strength to face our challenges when we use our faith.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.