Life was happening as planned. The usual highs and lows.
I grew up in the ’60s, my father a hard working salesman, with an even harder working stay-at-home mother to me and my seven brothers and sisters. My family was the centre of my world. I was taught to share, to stick up for myself, to care for others, be honest, truthful, resourceful, and to know the value of a dollar. Love and belonging created a binding force in my life.
For the final four years of secondary school I headed to an Anglican girls’ school. Regular chapel services were mandatory. My parents took me to church and Sunday school for a while and occasionally I’d decide to walk there of a Sunday on my own. We said grace before our evening meal, but that was more a habit than a prayer. It was an indication that we could start the meal. My family were never particularly religious but we were encouraged to know Bible stories and to be aware of the major tenets of the Bible and to lead a good life.
I became a teacher and married Ian. We had two great children and were both working in good jobs and running our own business. We had bought and renovated a couple of old houses, been on holidays overseas and followed our own dreams.
We’d just sold our hobby farm, realising that our tree change dream was going to be too much hard work, and had bought another ‘renovator’s delight’ turn-of-the-century home in Aldgate. Things had been a bit stressful with shifting ideas but nothing we weren’t able to cope with.
Then, out of nowhere, bam! The world I was so sure of was changed forever. I couldn’t fathom what it all meant. Images that will stay in my memory forever.
I went to bed early that night. Ian sat up watching TV. It happened. He was stunned and horrified. I didn’t see or hear anything until the next morning. He quietly told me as I woke.
I remember him saying, “Last night I saw something I hope I never have to see again. I thought it was a trailer for a horror movie.”
But see it again we did; over and over and over again. Aeroplanes full of people being flown into skyscrapers full of people! The horror we could only imagine in a movie was really happening. The vision of people scrambling to rooftops, running from dust clouds, smoke and fire, jumping. Messages from captives in buildings and on board planes. Horror. Terror. The world was never going to be the same.
I checked my family. My heart went to the victims, my thoughts to the impact. That day felt eerie. I was shaken to my core. All security and peace seemed under attack by such evil.
It took a while for me to come to the knowledge that such evil would not rule, nor win. There was something even stronger. Hope was not lost.
I knew I had to reconnect for real with that hope in order to give this life meaning. To find what it is that gives this life purpose and direction, hope, security and, most importantly, love.
It was because of the atrocity of September 11, 2001, that I sought the opposite of it, and I again found hope. Through listening to others of faith, conversing with Jesus in prayer, the wonder of creation revealing itself to me and noticing ‘God moments’ big and small, I came to realise that I have always been blessed and guided by Jesus. He has always been with me, loving me, even though I’d been going it alone. I didn’t have to any more. I opened my heart to Jesus once again. Jesus was the answer, the reassurance, love and omnipresent friend I was seeking. Jesus reclaimed me and gave my life new meaning, love and hope for the future, in eternity with him. Because Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world, including mine, and in return gave me eternal life with him as Lord God, I rediscovered that peace, security and assurance of love and hope while here on Earth.
Since then I’ve grown, learned more and lived more meaningfully and purposefully than ever before. I read. I pray. I share with others. I know Jesus and talk with him everyday. I know Him as love and hope. What could be more meaningful as a reason for life?