“I give up,” my friend said with a huff. “Gray hair wins. I’m so tired of coloring it.”
I admired her boldness as she victoriously tossed vanity aside. But when I faced bigger battles in my life, I didn’t have the same victory.
A retinal disease attacked my eyesight and in a matter of eighteen months blindness won. But its victory was limited to a battle—I won the war. Let me describe the weapons I used.
The most powerful one was the “smart bomb.” This explosion of wisdom within my heart gave me insight to know the answers were not in me. I didn’t need to look inward, but upward to Jesus – to His guidance, direction, and the path He had already outlined for me.
The “flag of victory” was held high as I left behind the battlefield marked with resentment, ugliness, and darkness. I stepped into a renewed life of fullness, light, and joy. I left negativism behind. The days when I felt resentment for so many things were gone.
The process was slow and sometimes hard to see, but progress occurred just the same. Accepting Jesus into my heart, my life, and my darkness brought me a fresh start. Nourished by the spiritual food of His Word, I gained the strength necessary for running the race of life: jumping over hurdles of discouragement, climbing steep hills of frustration, and moving forward through the rough terrain of a sightless person in a sighted world.
One of the things I resented when I became blind was losing my freedom to drive to the mall. Looking back now, I feel a hint of embarrassment for the shallow way in which I set my priorities.
His Word made it clear by asking me to give Him first place in my life. I had placed too many other things—a desire to regain my sight, family members, and activities and goals— above my relationship with Jesus.
My new life forced me to rearrange the priorities. What seemed so important to me then, no longer was. Conversely, what before had held little significance now became a high priority.
Looking back to before I lost my sight, if I had a choice between reading His Word and pondering in its wonder or going shopping, I knew which one held more appeal. The one which made me “feel” good, so off I’d go shopping.
It all changed with Jesus in my life; my heart now longs to know Him more. When I allowed His Word to fill my heart, my reward was not just a feeling but a lasting force that brought with it lasting peace and joy.
I have always enjoyed spending fun moments with girlfriends. If one of them calls and invites me to go to the mall, I usually accept, knowing we’ll enjoy those moments together. Every time we go out for the day, I come home with stories to tell.
I forewarn my friends that shopping with a blind person is quite interesting and at times humorous. I have had sales clerks ask my friend questions such as, “Do you think she likes the blue or green sweater?” Why would they direct the question to my friend when I’m standing right next to her?
Other clerks ask me a question by speaking very loudly and slowly so I couldn’t possibly be confused. I wonder if they think I might be able to see just a little if they speak louder. Or perhaps, when my friend tells a clerk that I can’t see, they assume the hearing is gone, too. But without exception smile with appreciation for any help they provide.
There are also moments that make my cheeks burn with embarrassment. But later on, those episodes become reasons to have a good laugh. Some time ago, a good friend left me standing by the checkout counter of a clothing store. “Wait for me here,” she instructed, while she went off to look for an item she knew I needed. I obeyed her orders and stood silently to the side of the counter.
After a few moments, I heard, “Can I help you?”
“Yes.” I turned in the direction of the voice. “I’m looking for a black skirt, size 4 petite.”
“Do you know if you have that size in this department?” I said.
“Would you be able to find it for me? I’m visually impaired.”
When she answered, “I’ll transfer you to that department.” I realized that she was talking on the phone and not to me!
When faced with adversity, we all have a choice: To allow our trials to bring about terror, or triumph by trusting in God.
How does this work?
When you walk down the path of life trusting Him, He guides you on the best route for you. Much like a tour guide, He doesn’t leave you alone to walk through the tourist traps of stress, tension, and anxiety. He instead leads you to enjoy the abundance of the journey, one that includes confidence, peace and even laughter.
And for me, it means I can breathe freedom by leaving this drawback of my lack of sight behind. My improved attitude has empowered me to grow. And though small battles were lost, I won the war against despair. Now each challenge becomes a channel of perseverance that thrusts me to victory.
Janet Perez Eckles is an inspirational speaker, freelance writer, and contributor to ten books including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She authored the inspirational book Trials of Today Treasures For Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life.