Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

If time heals all wounds, do you think all the wounds have been healed?  This, the morning after, a decade later.

Many of the students I taught at the Inter-American School in Xela have never known a world with the Twin Towers.  One student, Sebastian, a squirrely little boy who would rather make his classmates laugh than kick in the winning run in kickball, was born in Canada on the day of the 9-11 attacks.  His life will always be strangely connected to the attacks.  He came into the world as so many were taken away.

Last year, as he celebrated his birthday at IAS, I asked his mom what it was like for her on that day.  She told me the doctors didn’t let her know what was going on and that for her the day had been a true blessing.  Sebastian, is a true blessing.  His laugh and the myriad of nicknames he dumped on me always made teaching him PE enjoyable.  Life has gone on.  But I know many of us cannot forget what happened.

10 years later and many of us are still wondering how we move forward from here.

September 11th, 2001 started like any Tuesday for me.  I was a month in to my new school at Battle Mountain High School, my new life in Vail, Colorado.  I was lonely but I didn’t want to make friends, because I figured I would just move off in a year for college.  I had built up a hard shell of isolationism.  The move from Tulsa to Vail hurt me deeply.  The loss I felt when I left the friends I had known almost my whole life redefined who I was.  I was no longer the leader at my church.  I felt like a nobody.  I felt weak.  The move took away my confidence and sadly I didn’t want to find it again.  I felt I was just okay floating along until college.

As the day unfolded on the televisions, which were tuned in to the news in all of my classes, our identity as a nation changed.  We were once independent and indestructible. As the towers crumbled, I knew we’d never be the same.  I knew I needed people, sadly a knowledge I didn’t act on right away.  And as the months passed I believe the entire nation realized it needed one another as well.  The hard shell of our nation was cracked, if only just a little, that day.  As we mourned the loss of so many people, we came together.  We were hurt.  And we changed.

September 12th, 2001 was the day we all picked ourselves up and began to move forward.  We started to change, but what change has really occurred?

Maybe you were one of the first responders.  Maybe September 12, 2001 was your second day digging through the rubble of the collapsed buildings.  Maybe you were one of the first to enlist in our nations armed forces.  Maybe you were one of the first to be deployed overseas to Afghanistan.  Maybe you were one of the first to march into Bagdad and liberate an oppressed people.  Maybe you were one of the pastors who comforted those who lost loved ones.  Maybe you were, like me, just a student who stared at the television and watched the world change.  I watched and watched and watched.  I was drawn in by the stories of loss, horror, and hope.  By nightfall on the 12th, 82 people had been confirmed dead and 11 people had been rescued.  I believe we’d realized that sometimes you can’t make it on your own.

U2’s lead singer, Bono, wrote the song Sometimes You can’t Make It On Your Own while dealing with the loss of his father, but as it seems to happen the words speak to a deeper truth.

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go in alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I… that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need… I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can, you, hear, me, when, I, sing
You’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me

Hey now, still gotta let ya know
A house doesn’t make a home
Don’t leave me here alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Sometimes you can’t make it
Best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

If time really does heal all wounds, I think 10 years later we would all be fine.  But people still hurt.  People still see today, ten years after the first day after, as if September 11th, 2001 was yesterday.  10 years later I hope we all know that we are not alone.  And together, unified, is the only way to move forward.

But is being united truly enough?

Over the last ten years I moved forward.  I broke out of my shell, graduated from both high school and college, and then moved to Guatemala.  For me Guatemala has been and will be the most definitive time in my life.  As I lived outside of my home country, away from every comfort I’d grown up with, I realized how much I needed God in my life.  And I found out that God has something for me.

I believe God has something for the United States as well.  On September 12th, 2001 he began the healing.  While we were all in mourning, while we were all being led away from whatever was normal just 48 hours before, God was busy working.  Over the past ten years, while we came together as a nation, we have all been in a form of exile.  Being an American has been something different, our indestructible identity is gone.  We are still proud, as we should be, but the pain of being attacked still lingers, maybe in a way no one thought it would.  I believe the biggest change we have undergone as Americans is not knowing how to be who we are, Americans.

Do we love?  Do we realize we need each other?  Or do we stand apart?  Do we mourn alone-wrapped up in our own fear?  Do we stay in exile, confused about who we are and what God has for us?  Or do we come back to our foundations?  It is a new decade.  It is time for us to realize that God has a plan for us all.  As he said to the exiled Israelites through the profit Jeremiah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Whenever seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”

Are we going to be a nation that finally turns its eyes to God?

We have fought to defend ourselves.  We have strengthened our defenses.  Can we lay our weapons down when it matters?  Can we love when love is what is needed most?  On September 11th we were all hurt badly.  It has been ten years and one day.  Let this be the first day we love first instead of hardening our hearts toward everything that might hurt us.  How long must we sing this song of hurt and pain?  Not another ten years.  Not another day.

We must wait on God and seek him out with our whole hearts the way King David did when he wrote Psalm 40because he will bless us with something new.

I waited patently for the Lord;

He inclined and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand,

He put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear

and put their trust in the Lord.

3 thoughts on “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

  1. I love that song. It sure would have been great to see them at Red Rocks. Heartfelt blog. I hope we do change and let God guide and unify us.

    By the way, have you ever thought of using U2 in one of your blog posts? They really play some good music and have meaningful lyrics.

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