I got to listen to Stephanie Nielson speak on October 1st! She is my hero for so many reasons and I love reading her blog so I was extremely excited to listen to her speak at Utah Valley University. I was disappointed that I had to sit in the back but it was just incredible to see the place totally packed with people who are also inspired by this woman!
She told her story of being a mother, her trial and struggles after surviving a plane crash that burnt over 80% of her body, her hard work and dedication to living a beautiful life despite pain and challenges, and her profound faith in Jesus Christ through it all. What is there not to admire about this woman? I am so glad I went to hear her speak because she said some things that I really needed to hear.
The first thing that really stood out to me was her faith and how bold she was about sharing it. I thought that since it was a college campus that she was speaking to that she might tone down the faith aspects of it but she didn’t. She proudly bore her testimony of our Savior and his help through it all while quoting scriptures. Her faith could move mountains and it really strengthened mine.
She also was very upfront and honest about the trials she faced in learning to love herself after being completely burned. She explained the deep depression she went into as her young children couldn’t bear to look at her. Being someone who struggles with depression more than I let people know, it was so helpful to hear someone else talk about their struggles. There is such a deep pain and agony that comes with loathing the person who stares back at you in the mirror. That hurt is extremely hard to describe to someone who does not understand. It is convenient though that Stephanie and I are not alone in depression and lots of people know what that had been like at least once in their life.
To hear Stephanie explain that learning to love oneself again is not easy but possible helped me understand that my dark days aren’t the end. She talked about instead of complaining about the pain and the hate she was grateful for the body she did have. Even though her arms did not look the same and using them was so painful she was glad the doctors did not have to amputate them like they feared they would. Her story of strength inspired me.
After listening to her speak I gave my husband a good long hug to tell him how much I loved him. Just like Stephanie, I have a husband who is so supportive and loves me though all my faults and trials without whom I don’t know how I would overcome. It made me realize that I need to be better at thanking him for that because it is the least I can do.
I also took a good long look in the mirror and had a talk with myself. I am beautiful and amazing and I need to not let worldly blemishes stop me from seeing that. I need to be grateful for what I do have.
Listening to Stephanie talk was just what I needed to hear. I know my trials are so small compared to hers but I do know that I wouldn’t be given a trial that I couldn’t handle. Everything in life has a purpose and trials are to help us grow as a person and closer to Jesus Christ.