9/11 and Mental Resilience

Most of us remember exactly where we were standing and what we were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.

I had just put my 3-month-old down for his morning nap when a friend called and told me to turn on the television. My five-year-old was by my side when those horrible images flashed across the screen.

The next day in his kindergarten class he drew pictures of the planes and the buildings. He, like many other children across our nation, drew pictures that told an unspeakable story. A story of blue sky and smoke.

Until that day his life was all about the blue sky moments. I wondered how watching those events would affect my son, not to mention the many children and adults whose lives were directly impacted by the events of 9/11.

So as I always do when something isn’t right in my life, I prayed.

I wanted my son to know that the God we worship is all-powerful and good, a loving and healing force in our lives. I wanted him to know that evil is never the winner and is in fact powerless. I wanted him to know that we defeat its claims when we affirm and express love in our lives. When we insist that our mental freedom can’t be hijacked.

These words of wisdom, written by Mary Baker Eddy, informed my reasoning and gave me hope: “Evil is a negation because it is the absence of truth. It is nothing because it is the absence of something.” And, “Every attempt of evil to destroy good is a failure, and only aids in peremptorily punishing the evil-doer” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 186).

Yes, this may not be easy to insist upon. But we have the spiritual strength to do it.

What is known a decade later about the mental health effects after the events of 9/11? According to one psychologist, the story has a more positive conclusion than many mental health practitioners originally predicted.

“The best evidence contradicts early claims that these events had long-lasting negative effects or that watching the events on television inflicted a virtual trauma on the American people. Earlier claims were exaggerated . . . Available evidence now attests to the resiliency of the American people” (After 9/11: The Mental Health Crisis That Never Came”).

Support, love, forgiveness, family, friendship, faith. These are the words used by people to describe the healing that has taken place in their lives post 9/11. You can watch their stories in a 10-year anniversary documentary called  TIME: Portraits of Resilience.

When I think about events in my life that I’d rather not remember, that may have caused stress or mental and physical anguish, I ask God to help me take those images and events and turn them into right ones. Take those memories and reshape them into thoughts that are good-affirming, life-encouraging, progress-promoting. Why? Because that’s the way we live to our highest potential and help others to do the same. And it’s how we see divine Love’s hand in our lives.

You, too, can ask Love to restore those years, as this Bible verse brings out so beautifully:

“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” -Joel 2: 25

 

Comments

  1. Sharla Allard says

    My experience post 9/11 confirms to me that the people that lost their lives in that tragedy did not die in vain. Ever since then I have said “I love you” to men, women and children alike–in common, everyday kind of circumstances. Whereas I almost never said it prior to 9/11. And this continued affection, varied by giving a compliment or encouragement or the like, isn’t coming from a scared feeling that anyone could die soon. It’s from realizing more vividly how I feel about the people around me and thinking they deserve to know it–today, and often.

  2. Bruce J. Brooks says

    Thank you, Ingrid, Valerie, Dawn-Marie, Amy, Kim, and Virginia. This is all very encouraging and healing. Thanks be to God that His real nature and His real universe are now and forever clearly defined and brought out in that discovery called Christian Science and revealed to Mary Baker Eddy. We all owe to the world and ourselves our best efforts at demonstrating it.
    God’s blessings upon all,
    Bruce Brooks

  3. Virginia McCullough says

    Thank you all for your healing responses. What an incentive to be better peacemakers. The Portraits of Resilience are very inspiring too.

  4. Kim Shippey says

    Thanks. Your helpful piece on 9/11 made me think of a popular saying:
    Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday.

  5. Amy says

    I’m really glad that you brought your ideas full circle, Ingrid. I love that you shared how Love, God, can replace the memories and even nightmares with peace and calm.

    As a New Yorker, I know individuals whose lives were changed forever in big ways on 9/11. It wasn’t the television images that traumatized them, but lost parents, co-workers, firsthand visuals and the realization of being vulnerable to foreign attack. Of course, as New Yorkers, we also felt firsthand the beauty brought to all of us by neighborly love, both in the City and from afar. I remember my daughter’s Kindergarten class overflowed with drawings from other Kindergartners in the US expressing love and care for their same aged friends. The love has been much more lasting than the misery.

    • Ingrid Peschke says

      Wow, so true Amy! I’m so grateful you shared and I’m glad today’s post didn’t come off sounding insensitive to you as a New Yorker. That was very important to me as I wrote this, since I and so many others weren’t so directly impacted.

      • Amy says

        Nope, not insensitive. :)

        I think some people would push back at those studies, but not if you realize they’re talking about viewers, not experiencers.

  6. Dawn-Marie Cornett says

    Thank you so much for this inspiring message. One prayer that I have added to the prayer of love and forgiveness about 9/11, is that we are all children of one God and so cannot be tempted to use those events for personal or political gain. Fear cannot be the motivator in action or in law as no one ever thinks completely clearly when afraid. Love must be the motivator.

    There is a poem by Laura Lee Randall that is a hymn in my church. The first verse reads:
    Hymn 342:1
    This is the day the Lord hath made;
    Be glad, give thanks, rejoice;
    Stand in His presence, unafraid,
    In praise lift up your voice.
    All perfect gifts are from above,
    And all our blessings show
    The amplitude of God’s dear love
    Which every heart may know.

    This verse expresses what I am praying to see in myself and in all – fearless reliance on “God’s dear love.”

    • Ingrid Peschke says

      Thanks for sharing, Dawn-Marie. The first line of the hymn you shared has helped me to think differently about what might otherwise be a tainted date…that 9/11 is equally the “day the Lord has made” as any other day. It can be a day marked by healing and the great strength of our nation, continuing to stand up to evil’s claims and affirm love and life and progress.

  7. Valerie Unger says

    Thanks for these life and love-affirming thoughts. Right where the seeds of violence, division, and disharmony were sown, we’re seeing the fruits of healing and forgiveness. One can’t help but feel the power of divine grace at work.