This day has never hit me quite as hard as today. The older you get the better things come into focus that were hard to understand as a child, and somehow they become even more difficult to grasp. Everyone has their 9/11 story so it doesn’t matter what mine is, but today has been building up in my heart for a long time. I’m not sure what ignited the emotion in me today, between the anniversary of a tragedy, one of the most humbling sermons I’ve ever listened to, or the perfectly harmonized music and renewing energy in my church this morning. I have so many words and scriptures and inspirations running through my head I don’t even know where to start with this post, so I’m just going to dive in and see what happens.
Of course at church today the 9/11 tragedy was the theme, as well as the Charleston Sofa Superstore fire, two of the most devastating events in U.S. history as far as the number of lost firefighters. A story was told about a woman named Janelle, who worked on the 64th floor of the WTC, and made it all the way down to the 13th floor before the building collapsed on top of her. Trapped in the rubble for over 24 hours, she found herself on top of the dead body of a firefighter. That firefighter’s reflective vest caught the eye of another first responder, who reached down to pull him out and found Janelle grabbing his hand. Even in death, that service member saved her life. Just like the Charleston 9, who gave their lives to save others’.
The message today was that there are two types of people: the rescue squad, and those who are trapped and broken. Those in the rescue squad dedicate their lives to saving those who are trapped, broken, lost. Through God’s word and Jesus’ sacrifice, they pull others out of the rubble, one by one, and give them something to live for. The rescue squad runs towards the disaster, when everyone else is running away. It’s a crazy concept to think that there are disciples out there, who we consider strangers, who would lay down their lives for us. Many first responders are not only serving their community but, first and foremost, serving God.
“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry, to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny”
Something inside me has been brewing for some time now, and I’m learning that my journey with Jesus is more like a roller coaster. I feel close to Him for a while and then slowly veer away, focusing on other, less important things in my life. And then I get this feeling of anxiety, fueled by incompleteness, that becomes so overwhelming that when I finally find my way back to Him, I bubble over into this embarrassing heap of raw, dependent woman, and in the midst of it all I find myself again.
Yes, embarrassing. Because I’m not a big cryer, I’m really good at ignoring my emotions and tucking them away somewhere and dealing with them later in the privacy of my own home or room or car or wherever I can be completely alone. But, like any woman, eventually we have a breakdown from all that we keep locked up inside. And if you’re a Dane Cook fan, you understand how his joke about a “good cry” is actually so true. It starts with a catch of your breath or a single lip quiver, or for me that feeling in the back of your throat that feels like you might choke to death if you don’t entertain it. And I keep pushing it farther and farther down until it doesn’t fit there anymore, and then one random Sunday in the middle of my favorite worship song it fights its way out. For me, my mouth starts doing this awful twitch that I absolutely CAN NOT control. It’s only happened a handful of times in my life, always in public, where I want so badly to choke that cry down until I get home but I just can’t. And I know that if I allow my mouth to stop twitching, the next step is a full-blown sob. Wedged between a row of people I’ve never seen before #iliterallycantevenrightnow. For the record, still didn’t let it out today, so those of you in my immediate friend and work circles, hurricane Allie could develop at ANY second. This is your warning.
Today I sat in front of God and my church feeling like I was back, exactly where I am supposed to be. I worked my way up to the top of that roller coaster again, every climb is harder and higher, but that peak is always the answer for me. All I keep thinking about today is my own personal rescue squad, and how I never realized that’s what they were until now. Andrea Morris and Kristen Suraci for reaching out and welcoming me into their church family. My mom for giving me the best Christian-based and sound advice in every aspect of my life. Adam Caudle for shining His light on me all the way from Atlanta. My support system in Charleston and elsewhere. Thank you for pulling me out of the rubble, dusting me off and showing me Grace and Love and Jesus, no matter how many times I find the bottom of that roller coaster, my rescue squad is there to lift me back up.
A simple “thank you” will never be enough to those who lay down their lives every day for strangers. You are the truest disciples and allow God’s word to continue on in the lives of people you have saved or sacrificed for.