Monday, November 3, 2008

What I Need

Like many, I've been sucked into the world of NieNie and her recovery. I tune in faithfully every day to read the re-runs on her blog (being kept up by her sister) and her sister, CJane's blog to read the accounts of healing and progress. I have fallen in love with these families. All of them. The Nielsen's, the other Nielsen's, the Clark's, and all of the siblings' families everywhere. They are a testament to the power and potential of family. They are the model for families everywhere. There is love and support oozing from every crevice, and laughter, and tears, and friendship, and closeness. It's almost too much.

And I want it.

Of course, like everyone else, I am also enthralled with Stephanie and Christian's love story. Their romance is so palpable, it's better than a movie. Stephanie is every ounce true to herself. She loves herself; she loves her marriage; she is desperately in love with her husband; she is in love with her children and motherhood. Her life is dreamy with love. And Christian, in turn, seeps with love for his darling wife and everything that makes her who she is. He adores her. He cherishes her. All he can do now, in his healing, and while he visits her still in the hospital, is sing her praises and love her back to life. I sit and read and I cry every time.

Man, to be loved like that. To have love like that. And they never forget how blessed they are.

And so, over the last several months since the plane crash, as I've learned more and more about Stephanie and Christian, and their families, I find myself slipping into that all-too familiar female trap of comparison and feeling sorry for myself. I start to feel like I really got gypped in life. I mean, of course I love my husband. But I'd be lying to say that my marriage is the stuff of fairy tales. Far from it. Like, distant land far.

And I actually pray about it. I actually say to Heavenly Father, (and I paraphrase here), "Now, why couldn't I get that? I'm cute enough, right? Fairly smart. I'd really make the most of it. I mean, marriage and motherhood is the highest and most noble calling in life for women, and I'm aware of that, so didn't I deserve that? Why did you stick me with this?"

And as tenderly and lovingly as He always does, he brings understanding to my stubborn heart.
(and again, I paraphrase)

"Well, you could've had that, but don't forget that that included a fiery, permanently disfiguring plane crash while still in her 20's. Don't you think that she needed the love she has to endure what I'm asking her to endure? To have the will to continue fighting to live? You, on the other hand, my darling daughter, you have a different mission in life, and you have every blessing and gift necessary for you to fulfill that mission. Every one. Those which you struggle with, which you consider roadblocks, those are your tutors, but they are blessings nonetheless."

I suppose I get it. Even though at times I still drag my feet. Stephanie is influencing the world with the power of her love and example in her marriage and family life. But she has to endure a physical and emotional pain that I do not begrudge her.

I, on the other hand, I get to learn to love unconditionally, how to forgive willingly, how to find value in that which the world might discard. I get to learn how to perservere and persist, how to exercise faith and endure in the face of hardship, how to develop real charity (the love of Christ), and so in order to learn those things, I must have the kind of love that will teach me.

I've always heard that there is more equity and justice in the design of God than we can even comprehend. I suppose I can believe that, and go from there with what I have. I suppose I'll be a far better Jenna than I'd ever be a Stephanie.

But I'll still love her as my sister (that I've never met), and learn from her. I am a better person because of her, and she doesn't even know it.


Annette Lyon said...

One of my envies with watching the NieNie saga is how close she is to her sisters. I used to be really close to mine. Now, they're pretty much strangers. It makes me sad.

I really needed this, Jenna. Thanks.

Sarah said...

You know, as I was reading some updates on them the other day, it occured to me...Heavenly Father surely knew what he was doing when he gave Stephanie the ability to open her heart/life up to so many people. She would have had no way of knowing what would lie ahead, but He did. Had she not started her blog several years ago like she did, would she have all the support now that she does in her crucial time of need? Most likely not.

I too have wished for love stories like hers, but at the same time, I am perfectly happy with the way mine has unfolded if that means I don't have to miss out on months of my children's lives. Just like you had mentioned in a post not too long ago...If we were to stand in front of a pile of trials and told to pick, we'd still end up with our own.

And just so you know, incase you didn't already realize it, YOU are the big sister I never had. I have learned so much from you and I look up to you with such admiration. I will be happy if I can teach my children 1/2 the things that you have taught yours!

You are awesome, Jenna! And I absolutely adore you!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh heck, I'm crying now. I needed to be told that.

Momo Fali said...

Well, at least you don't have to pray for the ability to write well. You have that covered. That was the swift kick I needed today. Thank you.

Luisa Perkins said...

What a lovely post! I loved every word despite the fact that I have no idea who you are talking about. I suppose I should find out.

Abby said...

I haven't heard too much about the NieNie sadness..but I have bookmarked the blogs so I can keep up with the recovery. And it's true..we are all leading the lives we need to be leading. Whether it's not the life you oh so wanted or's where you need to be. For whatever reason.

You are so gifted in your writing ability, Jenna. The way you express the things you write about is so romantic. I'm so envious of the brains and talent in this family, it's sick!

Jodi said...

Fabulous post Jenna...I too have the same feelings at times about the Nielson and Clark families, heck I've asked cjane to adopt me...I got no response by the way.

Their story has helped me become a better wife, mother and human being and for that I feel blessed.

Josi said...

This was a great reminder of our individual journeys in life. I have to admit that I've avoided reading her blog because it just makes me so sad. I know I could never survive what has become her daily life. Thanks for a wonderful summation.

Julie Wright said...

Beautiful post, Jenna. I know we don't get to pick our families, but wow, how great it is to love what we got. Sisters are awesome