A visually impaired young woman transforms suffering to help others. I’m 26 and study electronic engineering. When I was 8, I had an illness which was misdiagnosed as a brain tumor. This left me with a damaged optic nerve and poor eyesight. As a result, I often wondered about suffering and the reasons for it.
When I was 11, I began to play basketball, but because I lacked depth perception, I wasn’t a good player and was teased and made fun of. At school, when teams were picked, I was always the last to be chosen, as no one wanted me on their team.
Increasingly, I asked myself what life was about.
When I was 18, I got a driver’s license. It was a special one, renewable every two years, but it was hard for me to drive, as I struggled to see the cars around me. I saw how easy it was for my friends to go anywhere, spontaneously, without planning ahead, while I was unable to do so.
It was hard to endure, and it still is.
There was something, however, which helped me to believe that suffering has a purpose. As I thought of Jesus, dying on the cross, I asked: “Jesus, you had many ways of saving us, why did you choose the cross? Suffering must have a higher reason; otherwise, you would have saved us in another way!”
I was able to experience how the words of the Gospel, lived out in a radical way, are really true. “To whoever loves me, I will show myself… Give and gifts will be given to you…” (see Lk 6:38).
When I was able to live these words in a serious way, I touched the truth of Jesus’ promises with my own hands. I felt a silent peace within me that no one could take away. This peace led me to believe that someone up above loves me and has a plan of love for me.
After 15 years, a surgically implanted optic device wore out and stopped working. I had known this would happen sooner or later, but it took two weeks for my doctors to diagnose the valve, and in the meantime, my field of vision rapidly deteriorated.
I realized that if each time this drainage valve was blocked my vision would worsen by a certain percentage, then by the age of 45, I would need a guide dog. When I left the doctor’s office after that terrible news, I tried to listen to what Jesus was telling me. But all I had was a huge emptiness, a cosmic silence.
I went ahead, loving in the only moment I had — the present. If I wanted justice, then I tried to create justice for others. My university provides educational resources for students who need additional aid. They gave me a laptop to record myself explaining more-challenging course content, which either wasn’t included in our textbooks, or which might require additional explanation to comprehend.
This whole experience was like going to a gym, where I trained day after day in patience and humility. But most of all, it opened up a direct channel of communication with those who suffer.
The discovery of God, who is love, gives me the strength and joy not to close myself in, but instead to turn my gaze outward toward my neighbors.