You may know me as an author, but did you know I am also the retired Director of an ESL program, regularly walk 12 plus miles a week, care for my two grandsons, scrapbook, read voraciously, cook, and am legally blind? That last phrase was tough for me to say out loud not that long ago.
Vision loss does not discriminate
The spectrum of vision loss conditions is broad. Not everyone can only “see” darkness. In fact, only 10-15 percent of people with visual impairment are blind to the point of seeing nothing at all.
I fall into this category. I am legally blind—the criteria set of having less than 20 percent peripheral vision. I have 5 percent. To help put that into perspective, when I look a friend in the eye when they are speaking, I can’t see their mouth. If someone gestures or points, I most likely won’t see their hand movements. And, if something like a toy is on the floor, a drawer left partly open, or furniture is rearranged, there’s an excellent chance I won’t see that either. I have the bruises to prove it.
My diagnosis in 2001 of Retinitis Pigmentosa was devastating. There is no cure. There is no surgery. But that does not mean there is no hope.
I still have value
Those who do not know me well often don’t realize I have low vision. As humans, we are amazingly adaptable, and I do a pretty good job covering up my disability. My friends have learned to watch out for me and alert me to potential pitfalls, some better than others, which is always good for a laugh. I use a cane when I’m navigating alone. I’ve traveled to China—that cane my only companion.
Everyone is dealing with something
I’ve learned that “Facelessbook,” as my husband often calls it, isn’t always the best visual reality indicator. I have friends dealing with auto-immune diseases and other health issues, depression, aging parents, job loss, and special needs children. Yet, they frequently post about God’s goodness and mercy.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
That verse does not mean I am confident I will have my sight for as long as I live. To me, it means I can CHOOSE to see the goodness of the LORD. And, Choosing Joy is something I do daily. It’s my mantra.
I don’t need my vision to see
I see love in the tender way my husband speaks to my grandsons. I see compassion when my friends pray for another in need. I see beauty when those around me raise their voices in praise to our Heavenly Father.
Being blind is certainly not something I would have chosen,
but it does not define me.
Don’t let your current situation define YOU either. One of my favorite quotes is by Nido Qubein, “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
I hope today you remind yourself to Choose Joy when there seems to be no hope.
February is Low Vision Awareness Month
Author Heidi Gray McGill is legally blind, but she doesn’t let her disability hinder her from achieving her goals. Heidi keeps a positive attitude by surrounding herself with caring friends and colleagues, like Amy Bovaird, who encourage and support her. Learn more about Heidi by visiting her website.