Recently, I was greatly impacted by the reality of Jennifer Rothschild’s life. This is a gorgeous woman who, when she speaks, gives off no reason for you to think of her in any way differently. You got it; she’s a wife and a mother, but the lilt in her voice betrays an enduring youth within her. She’s fun to watch, entertaining to listen to. I watched her, thinking of how impeccable yet simple her makeup was, and how wonderfully complimenting to her face structure her hair cut (and color!) was, when all of a sudden, a bombshell was dropped and it landed on my heart. Jennifer has been blind since the age of 16. Wait…how? Why? Ok, no, literally, how is it possible? I mean, she’s a fantastic orator, moving about the stage like a professional, and just like we’re used to seeing a regular seeing speaker conduct herself. How? She’s smiling and laughing as she speaks, a woman who is full of joy and clearly not faking it. So…how?
Admittedly, I listened more intently after I became aware of her disability. I think we all tend to respond this way, actually. A part of me kept doubting that she truly was entirely blind because of the way she kept strolling back and forth on that platform. I mean, surely not? In the end, however, it was her words that truly hit at me. She spoke of her reality – being blind means that she cannot look in the mirror in the morning (or indeed at any point in a day) and see what image is looking back at her. As a woman, this is of great importance. I definitely felt the weight of that. Then she added that it also means that she doesn’t have the ability to pick out her outfits, match colors, pick accessories, or even do her makeup. She’s not even aware of how her hair looks and whether the coloring that has been applied to it actually fits her. At that, certain audience members yelled out: “You’re beautiful!” Which was EXACTLY how I felt, of course. It wasn’t the kind of complimenting that is sometimes born out of sympathy. She is truly stunning.
She thanked those audience members without dwelling on the comments, in a manner that in itself also spoke to me. It screamed to my heart that her identity was in neither the compliments given nor in her actual looks. Which I loved. Then she clarified something. She stated that her perceived disability has proven to be a driving force for her. By being unable to see herself in a physical mirror, she has learned not to assess herself the way the rest of us do. She also doesn’t see herself as the world sees her, but she has been taught by her heavenly Father to see herself only as HE sees her. Over time, her only mirror has become the Word of God. When she reads the promises in it, she comes to see herself and think of herself as she and we actually ought to. She ends up with a solidly well rounded picture of her true self.
It rang a bell deep in me. It resonated big time. We are conditioned to judging ourselves based on our thoughts (or society’s) of what is in that physical mirror, and where has that left us? It is about time for us to draw great and constant strength from Truth, with a capital “t”. Great idea, since that’s the only opinion that counts anyway. 🙂