Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 2001

September 2001 brought with it two major turning points in my life. The first one should be pretty obvious, since most of us shared the life-changing experience of September 11th. (I have been wanting to write my September 11th story, and now Crystal has provided an extra dose of motivation!)

On break from college, I spent the summer of 2001 working at my dad's company. My job necessitated waking up at 4:45 am, leaving the house at about 5:45am and driving with my dad 1 hour and 15 minutes into downtown Houston to arrive at the office by 7:00am. (It's no secret to anyone that I'm NOT naturally an early morning person, so this didn't prove to be my most favorite job!)

I went through that entire summer in a sort of fog. Yes...quite literally, due to those early mornings! But also mentally and emotionally. I missed my friends and studies at college. At the same time, I was anxious about the next school year because I wasn't sure where I was headed by being there. (I had changed my major twice the previous year, and was contemplating making a third change when I returned.) Looking back now, I always knew what I wanted: to learn, to grow, to serve, to develop my writing, to travel and experience new things. And I was also secretly hoping that God might just send me a wonderful man (and soon!), because what I MOST wanted was to be a wife and a mother. But confusion had set in over the past school year when I allowed myself to indulge in worry. How could I continue the education I desired without digging myself a major financial hole? (I now wish I had been more proactive on that question instead of just sitting around worrying about it!) How could I major in my first love, English and writing, when that was NOT exactly a lucrative field? Should I pursue a lucrative field so that I could pay off the debt I was (most unfortunately!) aquiring? How could I reconcile all of this with my desire to marry and have a career inside of my home? What if that godly guy I was praying for didn't show up? Where would I be then? My fears were debilitating me, so I turned to numbness and apathy as my refuge. But I knew something needed to change.

When September 11th arrived, I was four days away from returning to school. My summer job had ended just a couple days before, and I was relishing the opportunity to sleep in before the busyness of college life absorbed me. Pulling me out of a weird, dreamy, groggy state I saw my mom's face hovering over me. She was urgently telling me I had to get up RIGHT NOW, because there was something huge happening. The world was going mad. What was she talking about? Nothing huge EVER happens. Maybe in other times and other places and in the movies, but not in Erin's life.

I stumbled downstairs and joined my mom in front of the television. I saw two skyscrapers on fire, reporters blabbering loudly in a panic, a huge gaping hole in the Pentagon. I had barely ascertained the situation when the unthinkable happened: One of the skyscrapers simply plummeted to the ground before my very eyes. My only thought was that this couldn't really be happening, because there must be people inside that building. No. No...I couldn't have just witnessed the death of thousands of people. This doesn't happen in America. It couldn't be happening.

My dad arrived home from work about noon. His building (one of the taller skyscrapers in Houston) had been evacuated. My sisters returned home early from the classes they'd been attending. We all sat in front of the television and soaked in the horror of that day until we couldn't take it anymore. Things I had never even considered were my new reality. You mean to tell me there were people called Terrorists who wanted to destroy America? Who would actually perform such a heinous massacre of our people, forfeiting their own lives in the process? Was there really such evil outside of the history books? As ignorant as it now sounds, I had NO conception of these things existing in my little world before that day.

On September 15th, I had to get on an airplane and fly back to school. My mom traveled with me, because she couldn't let me get on that plane alone. Boarding, the passengers were unusually polite and subdued. The flight attendents tried to ease our tension by greeting us as cheerfully as they could. During the entire flight: almost complete silence. But when the plane landed and eased to a stop at the gate, the entire cabin broke into loud and sustained applause.

Back at school, there was a sober air that is pretty unusual for a college environment. For days after classes begun, students who had been stranded in one place or another trickled back to campus. On the evening President Bush addressed the nation, we all gathered in the theatre to watch his speech. Current events dominated class discussions and even chapel services.

Somehow, in all this turmoil, my fog faded away. Oh sure, there were unanswered questions in my life and I'm not going to say that I didn't continue to entertain fears and confusion and to deal with my struggles and imperfections. But in an odd way, the events of September 11th served to illuminate the things in life that really matter. In one startling day, my focus was jerked away from myself and my little problems, and I was forced to look out at the angry and hurting and dying world around me. Instead of adding to my fears, September 11th resolidified my trust in God. Living in such a crazy world, who else can we turn to but Him? What other hope do we have, besides seeking Him in everything we do? After all...just LOOK at what is wrought by the world who denies the power and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Oh, that they ALL could find and know Him. I knew which side I wanted to be on. I knew Where I had to go for comfort and strength, and He didn't disappoint. He showed me that the answer was--and always is--outside of myself. It's in His hands, and His alone.

At the end of September, that month's second life-changing event took place: I met my future husband for the first time.


Blogger Rachel said...

It's a day we'll never forget! I posted about my Sept 11 story here:

9:42 AM, September 11, 2006  
Anonymous Barbara H. said...

Amen to your second-to-last paragraph!

1:28 PM, September 11, 2006  

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