Friday, 21 August 2009

This blog will change your life (Part 1)

A few months ago I got an e-mail from my friend in America telling me to go and read this blog.

The back story
Stephanie Nielson had a blog called the Nie Nie dialogues which documented her life with her 4 children and husband, Christian, in Arizona. Her life was like some kind of fairy tale - she was only a couple of years older than me and had 4 children! Yet despite this her life seemed perfect and her love for Mr Nielson is the kind that melts you on the inside. The blog was filled with gorgeous photos and her life just seemed wonderful.

However in August 2008, Stephanie and Christian were involved in a plane crash which left them fighting for their lives.

While they recovered the blogosphere went into overdrive with outpourings of love and support for this person that most had never met.

A year after the accident, Stephanie is back blogging, telling the story of her recovery.

It was a particularly slow work week when my friend e-mailed me and I managed to read the whole blog in 2 days - every single post. Now I eagerly gobble up every new post and sometimes randomly pick a month from the archives to read.

Her story cannot fail to affect you and make you think about your own life. How many of us possess the kind of determination that allows you to recover from an accident in which 80% of your body is burned? How many of us could go through something like that and still come out positive? How many of us share a love like she has with Mr Nielson? How many of us have the family that she does that rallied around, took in her children and kept the faith that she would pull through and come out the other side.

Aaah that family...this blog has left me longing to be part of that clan. From reading Stephanie's blog and her sister's (more on that in another post to come) I rather worryingly feel as if I am.

"Lucy's had her baby" I said, running through to the boyfriend one evening.

He looked at me. I could see his brain running through the names of my friends and coming up blank.

"She's Stephanie's sister"

Still blank

"You know from that blog I read"

The light dawned in his eyes. I think he's probably a little concerned about me. He's heard a lot about this blog in the past months.

At the beginning of this week she posted a picture of herself. It was a moment I think I and a lot of other bloggers have been waiting for for some time. When I saw the picture, tears came to my eyes. Not out of pity but out of a realisation. Yes obviously she looks different but she's still the same and that's something that hadn't quite twigged in my head. The same person was still talking to me from her blog posts, that hadn't changed at all. If you ever needed proof that it is what is in the inside that counts this was it. How hadn't I realised that before? (And to be honest I wasn't so much looking at her face as much as I was staring and coveting the amazing necklace she was wearing in the picture)

One of the things that Stephanie has done for me is help me start to come to terms with my feelings about religion.

It scares me to be honest. I guess you'd call me faithless. I was christened and went to Sunday School but I was brought up to find my own way in life and I just drifted away from it. I've swayed from being totally convinced there's nothing out there, to being sure that there has to be. Now I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm reluctant to call myself an agnostic because it's not so much that I don't know it's been more of a case that I just don't really care.

I've just never had a burning desire to want to know one way or the other. I've just removed myself from the whole question altogether. I also happen to have a friend who was part of a religious group (I won't name them here) whose experience was so awful that it just confirmed my belief that this religion game was something I didn't want to be part of. It just seems to cause so much trouble - people use it as an excuse for politically motivated moves and it just makes me not want to be involved.

I used to say that I thought that people who believed in God, whatever form he took, were copping out, that it was too easy to say that one person was controlling everything, meaning that no matter what you did, you were following someone else's path.

Now I realise how stupid I was.

I was the one that was copping out.

It's so much harder to keep the faith in God when something horrific happens. For me, I can just say that bad things happen sometimes, if you believe in God then you have to believe that he caused that pain, that he wanted that to happen to you and made that happen.

How did Stephanie's family cope with that? The God that they believed in made their daughter/sister/aunt/niece/whatever fall out of the sky. How can you come to terms with that? How could that happen to someone who was so good? Who loved being a Mormon, raised her children according to their principles and lived her life as a good Mormon should? What sort of reward is that?

However without that faith I don't see how they all could have recovered. If you don't believe that this is all part of some greater plan then what incentive do you have to keep going? When someone manages to recover against all odds isn't there a part of you that must believe it's because someone wanted you to get better?

The other thing that Stephanie's writing made me realise is that religion isn't really something to be scared of. Although I could never be a Mormon most of the things they stand for make excellent values by which to live your life.

They value family over and above everything else and I find this incredibly touching, I'd love my family to be closer than they are. They have family home evenings. They have date nights. They are just good people. Those aren't particularly bad things are they? To me it doesn't really matter whether you think those values came written on stone tablet, were sent down by an angel, were found at the cabbage patch at the bottom of the garden, they are good values.

From reading the Nie Nie dialogues I am determined to try and become a better person. I'm certainly no closer to coming to a decision on where I stand with actually believing in God but I'm trying to be a better family member. I'm trying to be kinder to people. I try to make sure that the boyfriend knows how much I love him.

It's not easy but at least I have a great role model.

I still don't feel like I can properly explain how this blog has affected me. I don't have the words. I've tried and tried to find them but they escape me.

I guess I just want to thank her.

Thank her for giving me, someone with no religion, a little bit of faith.

Faith that there are good people out there.


The Curious Cat said...

Wow, poor poor girl...for what she has gone through but strong, strong, lucky girl for surviving it and having the family to fall back on - can see why you like this blog!

Interesting entry regarding religion too. I am quite similiar to you in someways. I think a lot about religion and I've heard many personal stories and had my own experiences good and bad and I would like to believe in more but I haven't been swept away by anything divine in my life yet...(except the electric guitar when played by certain people!) maybe that will come though. I can't help but be skeptical and questioning but I do feel deep down inside that there must be something out there...Right now, I don't need to know any more than that. It is enough for me but I know with others it isn't and so they go searching...and hopefully finding something! :) xxx

Diane said...

I first read this blog when it was featured in the Mail on Sunday. It is deeply moving. Some famalies are truly wonderful. Ive always believed in God. I went to Sunday school when I was little (methodist because it was closest!) and my school was C of E. I do like going to church, but get put off by the regular church goers and the vicar!! I loved your previous posts too.

The Curious Cat said...

Can you comment on her blog? - just tried but without much luck - couldn't find anywhere to do it!