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I lay in the hospital on a cold December morning. My new reality was I was burned over 80 percent of my body. I was disconnected from my four children, my husband, and basically the world. I had been in the hospital for nearly four months without a release date in sight, and I was frustrated with pretty much everything.
I had been in an airplane accident months earlier that had injured my husband and killed our friend. I was sick and felt broken–ruined beyond repair.
Each morning in my lonely hospital room I would wake up with a deep ache in my heart. I wanted to wipe away the memory of the accident. Each day was just as horrible as the one before. But this day was different. Today I turned it all over to God.
In sobs I began praying. “Please help me through this. Please help my children.”
A song came to my mind, a song I had learned as a child and was teaching my children called “A Child’s Prayer.”
Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
I sang the first lines over and over out loud. I needed Him so desperately. But the next verse, a parent’s answer to the child’s questions, comforted me, too.
Pray, He is there
Speak, He is listening.
You are His child.
His love now surrounds you.
I prayed for hours that morning, pleading with God for understanding and assistance. That cold morning I was certain my prayers were being heard by my loving Father in Heaven. I distinctly felt embraced by God’s love and a sweet assurance washed over me that I-and everything- would be all right. I realized the time had come to put myself back into the equation. I had reached a point where God could only help me if I was working too.
For so long I relied heavily on others faith, others prayers, and others hope to get me through my deepest darkest spots.
I realized that God could help me heal, help me walk again, and help me connect with my children again, but not by snapping a finger while I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself. I would have to try too. If I did my part, He would do His, and He did.
This morning, I helped all five of my children get ready for church. I buttoned shirts, zipped up dresses, and on my knees I tied shoes. Then before heading out the door following my children, I swept up the Cheerios off the floor then walked the 16 stairs to my garage. These simple tasks may sound like everyday occurrences to you. Even mundane. But to me, they are enormous blessings. Doing these things were evidence of promises restored to me by a loving Father in Heaven.
Years ago, I needed help to eat, walk, and move. Now I was doing all of that and more by myself.
I made it through the weeks and months after the crash, and through every day since, because I have faith in something larger than myself–faith that God has a plan for me.
My body was scarred and disfigured, but just the opposite happened to my heart. Today, my heart is triumphant and my life is full of life and love. I can confidently and completely trust in my Father in Heaven knowing that even if the outcome isn’t what I had hoped. I will feel peace. Gratitude has pushed me forward and I am grateful for what I have overcome. But I am most grateful for what I have learned about myself, about life, about faith, and about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Atonement is a source of strength that leads me to peace, comfort, and courage. I see this time in my life as the best part of my story. Not because I’ve overcome so much, but because I have learned so much. I wouldn't have been taught these valuable lessons any other way. I don’t feel bitter. I do feel deep gratitude for my Savior who has helped me understand who I am, and what I am capable of, and now I face trials with a better understanding of why we are here and what we are doing.
I have this quote taped on my bathroom mirror by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
“Be strong and of good courage. You are truly a royal spirit daughter of an almighty God. You are a princess, destined to become queen Your own wonderful story has already begun. Your “once upon a time” is now.”
I believe it. And I believe that through (and only through) Jesus Christ, there will be a “happily ever after”, and I look forward to that day. For now, I will continue live in my “once upon a time” with my children and husband every day.
A video of Stephanie’s story is available here.
Incredible, moving testimony of a woman's survival after a plane crash. From WCF9. The Stephanie Nielsen Testimony https://t.co/TtMh7CClLT
— Janice Shaw Crouse (@janicecrouse) February 8, 2016
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