By Sara Claudia
God's Brave Women - Sara Claudia's Story
Have you ever faced a situation that was so foreign, unfamiliar, and terrifying that you did not know how to even begin to move forward?
When I was a 20-year-old, independent, and carefree college junior, I encountered one of these situations. I found myself plunged into an entirely new lifestyle. One that I had never experienced or witnessed, and it consisted of complete and utter darkness.
In May of 2015, I was admitted into the hospital for a routine tonsillectomy. After the surgery, I was discharged and sent to my parents’ house for rest and recuperation. In the early hours of the next morning, my mother discovered me completely unresponsive. After being rushed back to the hospital and intubated, my family held their breath, grieved, and prayed.
Miraculously, when the breathing tube was removed the next day, I began to breathe on my own. When I began to regain consciousness, I realized and shared with my family that I could not see anything, and everything was completely black.
One moment I was a normal college student with my whole life ahead of me. The next moment, I found myself lying in a hospital bed, completely blind, and terrified of what the future would hold.
"One moment I was a normal college student with my whole life ahead of me. The next moment, I found myself lying in a hospital bed, completely blind, and terrified of what the future would hold."
Have you ever tried to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night in complete darkness? Okay, so, this is not the hardest task in a house that you know well. But what about venturing outside of the house with your eyes closed? Navigating a college campus? Crossing a busy highway? How about blindly picking out clothes, doing your makeup, or cooking? I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
After losing my sight I had to learn how to do virtually everything over again and in a completely different way. The effort was challenging, frustrating, and, at times, terrifying.
I remember one day very clearly. I was learning how to walk and navigate with a white mobility cane. My instructor was teaching me how to use audible clues and landmarks such as building lines and changes in terrain to stay oriented. I was on my college campus and just knew that every person who happened to pass by would be staring with curious eyes. I was flustered, embarrassed and overwhelmed.
Not long into the lesson I realized that, in addition to all these emotions, I was now lost as well. For what seemed like an hour, I walked in a circle trying to problem solve and return to my route independently until I just could not take it anymore and dissolved into tears.
Unfortunately, this kind of experience was common in the early days of my blindness. I wanted to give up, go back to my parent’s house, and never leave again.
As I grew up, I remember being surrounded by the sound of old hymns and the words of powerful sermons and verses from the Bible. Unfortunately, I never really put in the effort to utterly understand their meaning. One of those was 2 Corinthians 5:7 which says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
As I learned to rely on my growing faith and relationship with Christ through my trials after losing my sight, I began to understand these words with more clarity.
"2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” As I learned to rely on my growing faith and relationship with Christ through my trials after losing my sight, I began to understand these words with more clarity."
In Exodus chapter 13, God is leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Instead of taking the easier, more direct route that they were familiar with, God delivers them through the wilderness. You see, God knew what was ahead. He knew that the better journey for the people was the one that, to them, seemed harder and more treacherous.
Moses and the Israelites, whom he was leading, did not know which way to go as they walked along, but, thankfully, God made his presence known.
“After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Ethan on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” (Exodus 13:20-22)
Even though the people did not know where they were going, they kept moving and looked to God as their guide. The reassuring presence of God gave them the courage to face the uncertainty that laid ahead.
Just like the Israelites, I had an exceptionally long, hard, and unfamiliar journey ahead of me after losing my sight, and I had no idea which way to turn. God did not choose to heal me physically, although this would have been the easier way out of my troubles. Instead, He chose to deliver me through the hardships and grief that my disability brought.
"God did not choose to heal me physically, although this would have been the easier way out of my troubles. Instead, He chose to deliver me through the hardships and grief that my disability brought."
God showed His presence to the Israelites as He guided them with a pillar of clouds and a fire by night. By following these signs, the Israelites were indeed delivered from Egypt.
I, too, had to search for God’s presence during my first few months of blindness, and I still lean heavily on His guidance today. Without my sight or a pillar of fire to guide me, I had to turn to my faith. When faced with my disability, I did not know where to turn, how to move forward, or the whole big picture of my life, but I just took one little step at a time - trusting that God would show me that next step and guide me as I went, just like Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness.
"When faced with my disability, I did not know where to turn, how to move forward, or the whole big picture of my life, but I just took one little step at a time - trusting that God would show me that next step and guide me as I went..."
And with each uncertain step forward, I felt my courage building. A courage that could only come from faith in God, and not from my own abilities or efforts.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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About Sara Claudia
Sara Claudia is an author and public speaker who is passionate about encouraging women to “Walk by Faith, Not by Sight.” After losing her sight and partial hearing in 2015, she embarked on a journey that both tested and strengthened her faith in the Lord.
Through her challenges, she has found an immense amount of joy sharing how God continually turns her trials into even greater triumphs through her blog, podcast, radio show, public speaking, and books: Blind Faith Devotional: 30 Days of Finding Light, Building Faith, and Choosing Joy and Unseen Steps: God’s Guidance Through Unexpected Blindness. Sara Claudia’s ultimate goal is that, through her testimony, women will be encouraged to face the trials of this world through their trust in the Lord.