Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Born at the Right Time

I’m working on a novel about a family raising a visually impaired daughter around the turn of the 20th century. As a woman who grew up with low vision, I have always wondered what it would have been like to live during a different time period with the same limitations. No matter which alternative period I choose, I always come to the same conclusion—that I am eternally thankful to God for allowing me to be born in the late 20th century.

Sure I started school at a time when visually impaired students still struggled to fit into a “normal” classroom. My parents waited eight years to learn the name of my vision problem and heard more than their share of discouraging predictions for what I would (or would not) accomplish. Still, I attended public school, graduated from high school, participated in drama, choir, and public speaking, and earned a college degree. I got married, have worked at least part time for most of my adult life, and have two amazing sons—who, by the way, have perfect eye sight.

Like me, my main character Rose is born with Congenital Achromatopsia. Only she is born in 1893 San Francisco. From what I have learned so far, Rose most likely . . .
Would never have a name for her sight limitation
Would not go to school unless her parents wanted to send her to a school for the blind
Would not know that Achromatopsia is NOT progressive and therefore might live in fear of losing her sight completely
Would not have dark sunglasses to protect her eyes against extreme light sensitivity or any other vision aids (except perhaps reading glasses that may or may not have been strong enough)
Would probably be seen as unintelligent because of her inability to learn her colors (due to her lack of functioning cone cells, which few eye doctors understood)

Rose’s story takes place during the eugenics movement, meaning that . . .

Girls like Rose would not be expected to marry
Those with disabilities were seen as inferior human beings that shouldn’t reproduce
Rose’s parents might even be pressured to have her sterilized

It wouldn’t matter that Rose . . .
Had creative gifts
Was intelligent
Had learned to adapt through strong listening skills and a great memory
Could read large print and write because her parents insisted on teaching her
Had the same desires for romance and love as other girls her age
Was strong, hard-working, and determined to overcome her limitations
Or possibly even had a young man in love with her

She would be destined for a life at home (because her parents refused to send her to an institution), pitied by some and seen as a burden by others.

So what will happen to Rose? You'll have to find out. And so will I (because I haven't officially decided yet).

As sad as this research has been, it has offered me endless reasons to rejoice in God’s grace and goodness in my life. He knew exactly when I needed to be born in order to accomplish His plan for me. Like Rose, I was blessed with loving parents who refused to listen to the nay-sayers. But my parents had more options and choices than Rose’s had. I had more hope for overcoming a limitation that God clearly allowed for a reason. What an incredible thought!

Thank you, God, for allowing me to be born when I was. Thank you for placing each of us where and when you want us on the timeline of your plan, and for allowing even history to stand as a reminder of your mercy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letting Go . . . Finally

It’s amazing what can happen when we get rid of all that is gunking up the heart and mind. Last time I blogged it was all I could do to find some good in having nothing to blog about. Last week I couldn’t even do that. I had too much in my head, too many emotions stirring, too much uncertainty looming. On top of that, I seemed to be handling things and people all wrong. It was one of those times when the fear of having no control over what happened next had me clutching tightly to what little I could control. At least I thought I could control it. In the end I only managed to drive everyone around me, including myself, crazy. No wonder I couldn’t write anything more than assignments! Even those I seemed to be writing on autopilot and half as well.

So on Thursday I called a friend and we met to talk. I poured out my pitiful heart. I cried, we prayed, I vented and cried some more. Finally this precious friend helped me see my need to let the two things that were burdening me most go—to hand them over for God to handle. As painful and hard as I was, I did it. Finally. I went home drained but free. For the first time in weeks I could write without it feeling forced. Later I called to thank her and share how much better I felt. She pointed out the power of getting rid of the gunk—that it makes room for the Holy Spirit to get in and work. And she was right.

This week, not only could I write assigned work well but I worked on a fiction project for the first time since the beginning of summer. I chose to kick start my creativity with something new and fresh and ended the day with what I think is a new novel.

All of this showed me how often I stifle God’s work through my refusal to let go. I’ve never considered myself a control freak; people tend to see me as a gentle, go-with-the-flow type of person. But when life gets scary, uncertain, or painful I guess I do crave control. I fret, plot trouble in advance, load myself with guilt, and take on more responsibility than I can carry because doing that feels safer than leaving the future and those I love in God’s hands. I’m so thankful for the abrupt change that came after I let go of last week’s burden. I freed me to do it more!

Thank you, God, for being there even in the mucky, ugly chaos. Thank You for patiently waiting to free me from what only You can handle, and for working so beautifully when I am willing to let go.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Nothing to Say

Blogging is on my calendar for today. One problem: I have nothing to say. It’s not that I don’t want to write; it’s that life has zapped my creativity. I can’t go into detail, just that it’s something that I expected to over the worst of by now. When we were in the throes of surgeries and medical bills and underemployment I still had something to say. I could share what God was teaching me, confess frustrations that others might be able to relate to, prove that I had a sense of humor through it all. But this is different. Sharing what God is teaching me through this particular trial would mean revealing it, or at least enough to invite speculation. While many can probably relate I wish desperately that I couldn’t. And as far as having a sense of humor about it all, well, I have a feeling that laughing this one off would be considered rather tacky.

So that’s why today, I seem to have nothing to say. No wait, scratch that. Maybe I do have one thing. God did teach me something that does not require overtransparency. When I have nothing to say (or just feel that way), God still has plenty to say to me. He has given me wisdom and reminders of His faithfulness through His Word and through precious friends. He has led me to truth (not always truth that I want to know about) and helped me uncover lies. Maybe we are supposed to have these nothing to say days now and then in order to hear what He needs to tell us.

God, thank you, that communication with you does not depend on the state of my mind or heart or creativity level. In fact, I hear you best when I have nothing to say.