Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives
The Weakness That Made Me Soar
by Janet Perez Eckles
I sat at the ophthalmologist’s office, holding tight to the armchair, my stomach cramped. “There’s no cure,” he said. “Your vision will continue to diminish. You need to accept the inevitable and learn to adjust.”
Adjust to what? He can’t mean I’d go blind! It can’t possibly happen to me. I was only 31 and my 3-, 5-, and 7-year-old sons needed me. And how horrible would it be for my husband to be married to a blind woman?
Those thoughts tormented me. So I prayed. I asked and begged God to help me find an answer. But He was distant, seemingly cruel in His silence. Instead, the retinal disease I’d inherited from my father advanced quickly. First, night blindness set in. Next, my peripheral vision narrowed inch by inch. As weeks passed, a frantic search for a cure from specialists, herbal treatments and even acupuncture offered no hope.
Months later, in spite of my desperate prayers, the dreaded day came. The miniscule amount of sight I had left closed in completely—no shadows, no colors, no outlines—just a dark gray nothing.
A black curtain of gloom fell on my world and swallowed my dreams. The retinal disease robbed my sight and with it, my plans for a productive, happy life. My world turned upside down with hopelessness. Why me, I asked myself over and over during my sleepless nights?
Then one day, when fear threatened to consume me, a friend invited me to her Christian church. While listening to Bible verses, my sobbing stopped with this verse in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Seek Him first? What I’d been seeking first was to regain my sight and be the mom and wife I was before.
But when God instructed to seek Him first, I obeyed. With headset on, I listened and listened to His Word in the Bible. His messages filled my head and renewed hope filled my heart.
That hope began a sweet journey. Holding on to the white cane of His Word, I took my first steps. When he presented an opportunity for me to work as a Spanish interpreter, I swallowed hard. Interpretation was a skill I knew nothing about. But with His love whispering reassurance, I learned, practice and mastered the skill.
But the divine Master was the One who ushered unexpected success. With no sight distractions while interpreting, my accuracy levels reached heights that humbled me with gratitude. My career flourished, dotted with numerous accolades including the most prestigious, Professional Excellence Award.
But God’s surprises didn’t stop there. On my desk, He provided a piece of software to operate a computer. The robotic voice read the entire screen displayed. With plenty of energy after my full day of interpreting, I prepared meals, making sure my family had a good dinner. And each evening, with gratitude dancing in my soul, my fingers also danced on the keyboard. I strung words that embraced my readers to help them see the best of life.
Each story and episode detailed what I saw with my heart and how God showed me to see beyond my blindness. How He healed my heartache after my youngest son was murdered, and how God’s power brought freedom when choosing to forgive the man who killed him.
Years later, those episodes of triumph and overcoming hurdles filled the pages of my first book, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life.
But those adversities, once overcome, turned to joy that prompted a celebration of life. That’s how my next book, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta came about.
When it reached #1 on Amazon’s Christian book bestseller list the same year, I was presented with the “Latina Women Who Make a Difference” award, I saw God’s wink in the depth of my soul.
One by one, God used each of my encounters with adversity for His purpose. Each heartache and triumph became fodder for hundreds of articles, magazine columns and books.
With the insights I share, humor I include and details I relate, I fuel my passion to inspire. And as pain turned to peace and sorrow to serenity, they became topics I deliver to Christian and professional audiences.
“You travel by yourself?” a friend asked me recently. “How do you do that?”
The Holy Spirit is my companion and each trip is a thrilling adventure.
And that thrill comes with rewards. I grab my white cane and pack courage and faith in the suitcase of my heart. Once at the airport, I give hubby a kiss good-bye and head to encourage folks across the U. S. and other countries from Bolivia to the Philippines.
With each stop, each book and each published story, I’m reminded of what I had asked a long time ago, “Why me?” It was in me that God placed His grace, mercy and power. And with the spiritual 20/20 vision He gave me, I saw His hand at work: the darkness that made me doubt, became the light to shine my joy. And the weakness that made me fear became the strength that made me soar.
Although blind, Janet Perez Eckles inspires thousands to see the best in life. She is an international speaker, contributor to more than 30 books, and author of the #1 best-selling, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta. In Simply Salsa, Janet teaches how to celebrate life and bring back joy by conquering fear.