Living With a "9/11 of the Heart"

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Living With a "9/11 of the Heart"

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I realized a few weeks ago that there are events in our life that will forever change us—and to "move on" from that event is not exactly just a switch you can throw. It would be wonderful if we could say, like a naive and insensitive father would say to his little boy after losing a pet: "Grow up boy, stop your crying. Men don't cry!" But I believe the Bible is spot on when it says there is a time to cry and a time to wipe away said tears and move on.

And there were tears shed this morning at the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. One article caught my eye on how much it affected one mother who lost her son. She was there this morning at what came to be called Ground Zero:

"Another woman, Ilian Rodriguez, a Miami resident who lived in West Babylon 11 years ago, came to honor her son, Carlos Rey Lillo, 37, an FDNY paramedic from West Babylon.

'Please don't forget about my son. He was a caballero,' she said, using the Spanish word for gentleman. 'I come here every year, holding this picture. I'm sad. I'm very sad today. I'm living with a pain that is inside, that is always in my heart' (from Newsday).

It made me tear up thinking about the pain inside Mrs. Rodriquez's heart—that she will carry with her for all of her life. I have friends that lost children through sickness and while carrying them in the womb. That loss is something that is with them for the rest of their lives. But it is not just losing someone that you love, or just began to love, that can sit as a "9/11 of the heart."

The big "aha moment" recently was that I realized there were two other big "9/11"s in my life: my parents' separation when I was five years old and similar turmoil in my spiritual family. Both tore me up from the inside. Both conflicted me with emotions. Both were divorces that were unfair, terrible, but in a weird way understandable. Both will live in my heart for as long as I live.

There is a time to mourn and there is a time to move on. Today, I am considering that even though I did not lose any friends or family in the terrorists attacks that woke up a nation in 2001, I know just a little about what 9/11 means to those folks—how it affected the heart. I salute them for going forward with their lives, even as they try to remember those they lost.

What allowed me to go forward with my own life was the hope I had inside of me of God's future plan that makes all of the "9/11"s of my heart palatable. I won't be able to switch off my feelings about any of these things, and neither can you, but God and His Word does give us the strength to work through the hurt and grief.