What would it be like to lose our sight? How would we accept it? What challenges would we face? Amy Bovaird gives us insight in her book – Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith.
Her story is truly a story of survival and victory in the midst of loss. She shares her struggles with a rare sense of humor and optimistic attitude. And I love how she so easily confides in God like He’s the very breath she needs to move forward in life.
Amy has graciously replied to some questions. Though her answers relate to her losses, they are filled with insight, encouragement, and wisdom that can be applied to anyone who has challenges, limitations, and losses in their lives.
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a hereditary, progressive eye disease that typically starts with night blindness, narrows to tunnel vision and results in blindness or near blindness. The time in which this happens varies from person to person. What we all discover when we are diagnosed–from children to adults–is that so far, there is no cure. I am the only one in my family to have been affected by RP as far as we can tell though both my parents must be carriers for me to have it. We hold onto hope of finding a cure within our lifetime.
To you, what is the worst thing about losing your sight?
The constant reduction and re-adapting. Right now, in large crowds and especially outdoors, I feel I am lost in the periphery. By that, I mean I can’t follow everything going on because of the lack of clarity so I often feel cut off from what’s happening. The real challenge is losing my hearing in conjunction with my vision. But God will equip me and if I stay positive, I am sure I can still enjoy my life. Who knows what is around the corner!
What doors has God closed and/or opened because of it?
That’s a great question! I think that God has closed the doors on me teaching in a classroom. I’m a little sad about that. But He has opened the doors to me educating in a speaking realm. I’m using many of the same skills but on a wider scale. I’m excited about that! As my faith has deepened, I’ve stepped through this new door and discovered a marvelous platform to share my faith that I wasn’t always able to accomplish in the classroom. I love that! Sometimes at events when there are multiple speakers, it turns out that I’m the only one to focus on God getting me through the challenges. Sometimes that feels weird but even when I focus on practical tips, somehow God is always part of my message.
Also, I’m getting to know a lot of vision-impaired / blind people over the Internet who amaze and inspire me with their attitudes and capabilities. For example, I know a woman in Australia who speaks about the “art” of mastering blindness. I never thought of it that way before! There’s another woman who is a trapeze artist and yet she has low vision! She is so determined to pursue what she loves despite some falls.
Also, a door of deeper gratitude has opened. If I look at my blessings, I have to admit that I have had wonderful experiences so far. I have seen so much of the world, and by that I mean, people and cultures. I don’t think that door is closed yet. I might still be able to travel back to the mission field. I don’t know yet what doors will fly open!
How has God helped you to grow closer to Him through this loss?
The longer I live with multiple losses, the more I am drawn to the One who can offer some kind of control in my life. I can’t control any of the outward problems I have, but I can trust Him to get me through each situation and show me His love, comfort and humor. I hold tightly to His hand because of His promises. One of the biggest challenges I’ve gone through is financial loss through leaving my teaching career. Sometimes it’s frustrating but God always seems to provide for the things I really need. The rest diminishes in importance after a while.
For someone who is despairing about losing their sight, what encouragement would you give them?
1. Pray and seek encouraging scripture. If I don’t know if someone has a relationship with God, I might suggest that he or she meditate, do yoga or seek out positive quotes.
2. Take time to grieve. Keep a journal and date it. Name your fears. Write out your frustrations. It will give you insight later as to how you’re coping. It’s okay to cry or let loose (Wail!). Share your heart with someone you trust.
3. But don’t let that period go on too long — how long depends on the person. Don’t dwell. Pick yourself up and focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
4. Seek mobility training to maximize existing sight and learn ways to adapt. See a rehab teacher and find which low vision aids help you in everyday tasks, educate yourself about the disease,
5. Focus on Gratitude. GRAB ONTO HOPE.
6. Find activities that bring you pleasure – running is it for me, or being out with nature.
7. If you’re having a bad day, change your activity. Take a nap. Rest does wonders!
8. Look at life with HUMOR. Don’t be so serious. I often say, I’m the one who walks into the wall, a closed door, or the Men’s restroom, whichever I happen upon first!
What is the best way for us to approach or help a vision-impaired person? What do you want to or not want to hear?
Calmly approach a vision-impaired person and introduce yourself. Ask if he or she needs help. If the answer is yes, do help. If the answer is no, respect that. Don’t insist.
Don’t grab his or her hand or any part of the cane, even with good intentions. If the person is in danger, like is going to walk into an open manhole or something, do prevent the accident, however, by quickly reacting, halting and stating the danger. Otherwise, the person may well fear you are assaulting him or her.
Amy’s book is free
if you are on Kindle Unlimited!
Mobility Matters – Book Trailer
What losses have you experienced in your life?
What doors have opened/closed because of it?
How has God drawn you closer?
Jesus, You know each of the losses we deal with.
Please help us to grab onto the hope that is in You!
Linking up with:
Holley – Coffee For Your Heart
Jennifer – Tell His Story
Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith
Bonnie – Faith Barista’s Beloved Brews