As I watched the footage from that morning, ten years ago, when our country suffered the most horrific terrorist attack in our history, I could feel my heart breaking all over again. I had been in Northern Virginia when the first plane hit Tower One. I was heading into Washington D.C. around the time the second plane hit, and I was in D.C. when the third plane hit the Pentagon. I still remember seeing the smoke from the other side of the river and feeling a sense of confusion and fear descend over the city.
The summer after September 11th, I took an internship with the Department of Defense. For anyone that’s been inside the Pentagon, you might remember that the building is huge. It’s actually the world’s largest office building by floor area, with about 6,500,000 square feet of space, so it’s no surprise that I spent an embarrassing amount of time lost wondering around it’s labyrinth of rings and corridors. I’m not really sure how I pulled it off, but during one desperately lost adventure, I pushed through a door and found myself standing in the middle of the “Phoenix Project”, the project to reconstruct the side of the Pentagon hit by American Airlines Flight 77, where 64 airline passengers and 125 Pentagon employees had lost their lives. The space was eerily. White tarps and construction sheets, which were hanging in the space, were moving gently from the breeze sifting through the still-open parts of the corridor. In that moment, I almost felt the presence of loved ones lost… brothers, sisters, wives, husbands and children.
Today, I live less than a mile from the Pentagon, and I pass it most day. It’s with great satisfaction to me that I can see the Western side rebuilt. Those workers who re-pieced that space started with something broken, and they used their skills to restore, just as so many men and women continue the work to restore the skyline over Manhattan.
At a sermon this weekend, we were reminded again that the Lord cares about our individual brokenness, our community’s brokenness and our global brokenness, of which terrorism is just one part. His heart breaks when He sees abuse, violence, exploitation and corruption. His heart also breaks over addiction, relational brokenness and the sin that leads us to choose things other than His best.
God also calls us to address brokenness—to act and to take part in His work of restoration. As parents, we have the awesome opportunity and responsibility to open our eyes to brokenness in this world and to do our part, in our families and in our communities to heal, to protect and to restore. This means opening our eyes to the sexual brokenness around us and to the sexualized messages our children are burdened beneath. The average age that a child is first exposed to pornography is at age eleven. The largest audience of online pornography is teenagers. Youth-on-youth sexual violence is increasing, and kids are feeling pressured to perform like porn stars. This means, while we may not have the resources to join the team restoring the Manhattan skyline at One World Trade Center, that we can do address another devastated landscape. We can do our part to combat sexual and relational brokenness in our homes; we can work to set healthy sexual boundaries and examples in your children’s lives. We can protect our kids from the addictive assault of pornography.
I hope that as you hear stories of restoration in communities, in lives and of skylines in the wake of September 11th, you consider the areas of brokenness that God is asking you to work to restore. Pornography is devastating the social fabric of our country and threatening the relational health of our kids, and this should break our hearts. If your heart is breaking, I hope that you seize the opportunity to act.