Chase Fireflies

do not be overcome (september 11)

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We had just been married a month when the planes struck the towers. 

I was teaching first grade when the secretary walked in and whispered in my ear.  It didn’t seem real until the images burned through my disbelief; soon after school let out that day. 

There in our nearly one room apartment, I did not want to ever leave.  Having travelled the world, I wanted to now stay huddled on brown shag carpeting.  I made coffee and drank it slowly; Paul at my side. 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

While the news reports were still pouring in weeks later, Paul wanted to go to the city.  He wanted to help somehow.  I didn’t.  The distance was all well and good, as far as I was concerned. 

Convinced that we were going to be hit with a second wave of attacks, I went with him anyway.   I think we took his brother with us the first time and our second trip in we took high school and college students.  I still remember that default mechanism of fear.  It was so pervasive it was all I could think about.

Having not cared an ounce about dying, all of a sudden I cared an awful lot. 

Nothing we did there those days came anywhere close to the bravery and sacrifice exhibited by responders following the attacks.  Theirs was the bravery.  Ours was the ordinary.  To put our presence and their heroics in the same sentence is even absurd.  God knows my heart; I didn’t even want to be there either time.  I am ashamed to say that I didn’t want to be there.

That being said, it was where I had to be to confront my own fears.  It was where Paul lead us to begin our new marriage and our faith on streets still filled with dust and wreckage and people scurrying to work anyway. 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Tonight, I am hanging up our five year old’s dress and she tells me that there were planes that once came and crashed into buildings because of people who wanted to make us afraid.  And then she asks me if I am afraid.   

And though I find myself sucked back into fear like a vacuum and though I am so easily overwhelmed by everything in this life and though I want to protect our kids with everything in me, my words will always begin and end with my actions. 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

(Thanks for your consistent example to me, Paul.  I love you ten years out.  And counting.)

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