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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Confidence to Face the Future

At 13-years old, I sat in the ophthalmologist's examining chair. With my face placed on the chin rest and my pupils dilated, the doctor shone a bright light into my eyes.

"Hmmm…" he said. Then he leaned back on his chair.

"She did inherit it," he said. "You need to be prepared. There is no cure for this retinal disease."

My father carried the Retinitis Pigmentosa gene causing a deterioration of the retina which, in most cases, results in blindness. Although my brother's retinas seemed to be fine, I'd inherited the gene.

Fifteen years after my initial diagnosis, my father began to lose his eyesight and so did I. He was 55 years old, but I was only 30. In a matter of two years, we had both lost our sight completely.

I shook my fist at God, at the world and at the horror of facing the rest of my days in darkness. "Unless a miracle happens," the doctor had said, "you'll never regain your sight."

My life crumbled. And a black curtain fell on the dreams my husband and I had for us and for our three little boys.

But when I turned to God for hope and strength, He responded by opening my spiritual eyes to a new revelation. My father had given me the RP gene. But he had given me something valuable also — the example of determination and tenacity.

My parents, my brother and I lived in Bolivia in 1964 when my father defied the family's opposition to move to America. He and Mom worked tirelessly to comply with the requirements imposed by the U.S. Immigration Department to enter the country and establish residency.

The day finally came when he would travel alone to the U.S. Once in the states, he overcame humiliation, intense loneliness, helplessness, and uncertainty. He endured ridicule due to his lack of fluency in English. But he pressed on. And he managed to gather enough money for the basics — rent a small apartment, buy modest furniture from thrift stores and put a down payment on a car.

Nine months later, he sent airline tickets for my mom, my brother and me. And our family began our life in America.

Decades later, as an American citizen, I look back at what he'd shown me. He taught me the determination to move forward when facing adversity. He set an example proving that humility is crucial to success. He demonstrated the commitment to family and the importance of setting priorities.

His journey taught me valuable lessons for my own path in the darkness. As a baby takes his first steps holding tight to his father's hand, my dad held onto God as he stepped from the comfort of our hometown in Bolivia to the unknown in a foreign land.

I did the same as I stepped into the unfamiliarity of a sightless world. Holding onto God's hand, His word whispered to my soul:

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB)

I didn't stumble over fear, worry, or insecurity anymore. I walked confidently on the path He'd paved with His promises. He guided me to learn to cook, do the laundry, clean the house and to find transportation for each of my sons to their various activities. And most of all, as a loving Father, He brought back joy.

Although physically blind, He gave mamma 20/20 spiritual vision to see how that joy spills into my role as a wife, mom, Sunday school teacher, Spanish court interpreter, inspirational speaker, and writer.

What I inherited from my father helped me to see my life with more appreciation. But what I received from my heavenly Father made my life richer. He gave me the strength to face challenges, the path to follow, and walking in His light, He gave me the confidence to face tomorrow.

Copyright © Janet Perez Eckles, used by permission.

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