Finding God in the Aftermath of 9/11

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In light of the 11th anniversary of September 11th, I took some time to reflect on my own story and how that fateful day changed so much for our country, my family, and my faith walk.  Although I did not lose my life, or a loved one, my family was changed forever.

The Life of Our Dreams

In 2001 I had the “perfect” life.  My husband Bryan and I lived in our dream house. I spotted it prior to having my first child. It was the perfect four-bedroom home on a lovely cul-de-sac with other young families.  My husband had a great career as a software engineer. I was working as a development director for a local nonprofit (part-time with health benefits). My son Christian was entering Kindergarten and my daughter Justine, was going into the sixth grade.  We were active members at a small local church and enjoyed services weekly.  Both children were enrolled in private schools.

As was our tradition, that summer we took our annual vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.  If you’ve ever been to “MV” in August, you know that it’s the best time to be there. We enjoyed the Agricultural Fair in West Tisbury and Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs.  Many of our friends and acquaintances vacationed there during that time of year, which made it even more perfect and easy to find playmates for our children.  That year, it was the best vacation ever.  We ate out, cooked in, entertained friends, golfed, beached--we did it all.  After two weeks of a blissful time away, I recall sailing on the ferry back to the mainland and gazing at the glistening ocean and bright blue sky thinking that life could not get much better. 

The Day That Changed Everything

It was nearly a month later that our country was devastated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. My husband had ended a consulting assignment at Deutsche Bank at the World Trade Center. He would’ve been there had the devastation struck just two weeks earlier. We were thankful to God that his life was spared. However, like all Americans, our lives would never the same. 

Although Bryan was anticipating returning to NYC for another work assignment, it never happened.  Work in the technology industry disappeared and he was forced to look at other possible career options.  He tried everything: selling mortgages, selling insurance, whatever it took.  But our mortgage payments, tuition, car payments, and everything else fell rapidly behind. 

By 2003 we were in a desperate struggle.  We took our son out of private school, our cars were repossessed, and now we were losing our home.  We prayed and cried out to God to help us keep all that we had worked so hard for.  In early 2005, we lost our home and moved in to a hotel, then with my aunt, and finally to a small apartment.  Everything we believed brought us happiness and fulfillment had disappeared. It was so surreal to lose so much, yet we sought after God fiercely.  We didn’t know what else to do. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Finding God Faithful No Matter What

We had no solutions, but we trusted that we were still in God’s hands. Although the losses were devastating, we continued to pray and to fellowship with other believers at church.  From early on in our marriage, we sought God as a couple, through church, and were encouraged through fellowship with friends who had strong faith.  It was natural for us to turn to God during such a difficult time in our lives.  Though the picture wasn’t pretty, we knew God is always faithful!  We had evidence. When I was having trouble conceiving a child, finally, when we were successful, we knew God was with us. When I was hit by a car, thrown into the air, and landed hard on my right side with very little damage, we knew it was God who caught me. And we knew it was God who healed our daughter when she was born with breathing difficulties and placed in ICU. The list is endless.  He has always been there and always will be.  He is not a man with limits. He is there in the dark days and the glory days--no matter what!

Refined and Sustained

Fast forward to 2011. We have been through so many life changes since 9/11.  Some wonderful, like my daughter’s graduation from college, my son’s academic and athletic development, and the fact that we now belong to a large, life-changing, non-denominational church. I have a much closer relationship with God, sing His praises on our Spirit-led worship team, and am heading up women’s ministry in my church and region. There have also been some very difficult changes, like the loss of my mother, having to move (again), and continuing to struggle with business/employment issues.  But through it all, God has sustained us and provided for us! We are celebrating 25 years of marriage this year and we are amazed at how God has continued to bless us.

We were once part of the “In” crowd. And when people would say we were blessed with our wealth, beautiful home, big trucks, “picture perfect “ lifestyle, I would say, “We’ve worked very hard for this!” Now I know, yes, we are blessed. And it has nothing to do with what we have or what we’ve done. It has everything to do with Who’s we are and the eternal treasure we have in Him. We anticipate His greatness and experience His joy daily.  Despite what the situation may look like, or what may be going on around us, we continue to wait upon Him for direction and instruction. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Thank you Lord for helping us find you in every situation.  I am so grateful for my daily encounters with you that keep me grounded and searching for more of You. In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.”

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Joy Charles Kay is a Grant Writer/Social Media Strategist for a small nonprofit in Montclair, NJ.  She is a member of the Christ Church praise team and women's ministry, Area Coordinator for Moms In Prayer International, and an avid lacrosse and hockey mom.  You can reach her on her blog or on Twitter.

photo credit: Barry Yanowitz via photopin cc
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