Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Most Important Part of Life

If I told you that I knew what the most important thing in life was, would you believe me? Would you take a moment and hear what I have to say? The truth is so obvious, yet people seem to miss it. People go their whole lives missing out on the greatest aspect of life. And they have the nerve to call me blind? I may be somewhat blind to the physical world, but what I am able to see far more clearly is of greater importance.

My life, through it’s ups and downs, can only be described as unique. Growing up in church, it was often said that I was “set apart”, and to this day, I’ve never really liked that sentiment. I’ve always been a man of a few friends. I was the kid in school that everyone really liked and respected, but never really hung out with. I had the unfortunate experience of turning 16 and being one of the few who didn’t drive and never would. This one factor has had the greatest impact on my life, even more than visual impairment itself. Finding a job, visiting friends, attending college, going on dates, all a challenge. The result? A lot of time to myself.

The other great contributing factor to this discovery of mine has a lot to do with my upbringing. I grew up in a broken home with no dad. My upbringing was harsh and I saw a lot of drugs, alcohol, and violence. For 12 years, I grew up without any siblings, and then my baby sister came into the world. Ten months later, she passed away. No more siblings. But this one sibling, whom I loved very much, was the beginning of the journey which would lead me to the greatest discovery of my life.

Why am I unraveling my life in front of an audience of reading eyes? Because this is my story and my testimony. All of this has lead me to understanding what I believe is the most important aspect of life. You see, when people told me that I was “set apart”, I always thought that it meant that people were a problem. As if people were some kind of hindrance or just a source of drama and conflict. But over time, my experiences have taught me that people are more important than anything else. And I have decided that, in every aspect of my life, to make people my passion. I’m done with this “set apart” lifestyle!

It all started when I lost my baby sister. The first person that I ever really loved, and the first person that I ever felt genuine, consistent love from. Because of that, even though she’s gone, she’s always with me reminding me what love is. As for my upbringing and not having a dad? The only thing all that has done is inspire me to one day be the best husband and father this world has ever seen, and I will be. Everything I’ve been through has taught me that people are my purpose and my passion. I’ve learned how to love deeply, how to be a true friend, and when I say I care, I mean it.

I realized a long time ago that God didn’t put me here to keep me from people, but to be a person who cares about people. So that’s exactly what I choose to devote my life to. I have walked through every kind of hurt. Feeling heartbroken, inadequate, hopeless, lonely, unlovable, and helpless. But I’ve walked through all of that and I am confident in who I am. I’ve never stopped putting my faith in God and my faith in love. And I know that there are people all over that are in the battle of their lives against all the things that I’ve dealt with, and all I want to do is join the fight.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in life are the people in it. When God created the world, he named everything good. The very first thing God saw that wasn't good was, "to be alone". So God saw our greatest need and made it the most beautiful part of life. Our need for love and our need for each other.

You are important, you matter, and you are worthy of every kind of love. Never forget that.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How do the Blind See People?

“What do blind people see?” A question asked throughout history by people who could never truly comprehend the answer. No more than the blind being able to comprehend sight. But make no mistake, the blind “see” in many ways. So rather than asking “What do blind people see?” let’s ask, “How do blind people see?” In this case, “How do blind people see other people?”

People tend to be quick to judge others by what they see. Of course, this isn’t always a bad thing. If you see a guy walking down the street with a bomb strapped to his chest, you’re going to know that something is wrong. I suppose this is one advantage to having sight. However, people often develop a superficial mindset. They form opinions of others by how they look. They notice skin color, clothing, and general “attractiveness”.

Blind people are different in that they simply cannot notice the physical traits of others. In fact, and to their social detriment, they may not even notice others at all. But when they do become aware of a person’s presence, the last thing that comes to their mind is physical appearance. It makes no difference at first. That isn’t to say that physical traits don’t come into account at some point. I suppose it varies among the blind and sighted alike. But by nature, the blind tend to focus less on what a person looks like and more on what they are like as a person.

Think of it this way. A blind person isn’t able to see the bomb strapped to the guy’s chest and they know it. They will have to discover it another way. Rather than forming a picture based on someone’s appearance, they will form a picture based on their character or personality. Because they are incapable of making a judgement based on sight, they are left with two options. They can either avoid the person altogether or they can find out more about them. In other words, they will have to go beyond the surface of a person and try and gauge them internally.

So in theory, blind people have a natural tendency to judge a person by their character and not their physical appearance. Perhaps this is only true to an extent or not at all. I base this only on my experience as a partially blind individual. Maybe it has little to do with how well I can see and more to do with the fact that I know how it feels to be judged. Regardless, I still stand by my thought that we are hindered greatly when we get hung up on superficial things that really don’t matter.

What would happen to us as individuals if we stopped placing so much importance on physical appearance, income, religion, political affiliation, orientation, or ethnicity? How many deep, meaningful relationships have people missed out on because they were just too shallow? What if we just enjoyed other people for who they are? At the very least, we would be blessed with the opportunity of getting to know someone new and unique.  

Genuine love awaits us if we could just become blind to the barriers that separate us from one another.