Thank you for all your excitement and encouragement about the publication of my new book, “Rough Places Smooth: Moments In A Journey Through Blindness.” It is an absolute thrill to have the book finally finished and available to share with you. I hope you don’t mind, but I thought I would take a little departure from our usual format and share some behind the scenes information on my writing journey. Perhaps these posts will answer some questions for you. Maybe they will even prompt you to reflect on your own life journey.
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 – NIV
Writing a book is a daunting endeavor. It is not a project to be entered into lightly. Many have asked about my reasons for taking on such a monumental task. As with many goals we pursue in life, the answer is a bit complicated. In other words,it’s a story in and of itself.
I didn’t have a plan when my fingers first found the keyboard. I had kept a handwritten journal for several years, jotting down ideas and short reflections, but as my vision loss progressed, I couldn’t read my own writing. Since I still felt the need to record my thoughts, I began using my iPad as an electronic journal. Thankfully, I could still see computer screens with a few modifications.
My journaling was haphazard at best, but that all changed when my vision dramatically worsened over an eight month timeframe, and I was suddenly launched into a premature and unplanned retirement at the age of 53. Reeling from this abrupt change of plans,I began writing more often, and the notes soon shifted to stories.
In that early post-retirement phase, I felt a little lost, fearful about my sudden visual decline and uncertain as to what to do with my time. The stories began as a way to remind myself of the God-moments of the past, of all the times God had made a way when there seemed to be no way. It was as if I needed to see the words on the screen in order to remember how God had been faithful in the past and would be again in this new and different season of my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed retirement immensely. Still, it was an abrupt change to my daily life, and the uncertainty of my visual decline weighed hheavily on my mind. The writing became good therapy for me, and the therapy quickly turned into a new passion.
As I tapped away on the keyboard, I thought about the critical role that my son has played in my life story. I soon realized that my son Jonathan, my only child,didn’t know any of these stories. He had lived them, but he didn’t know them. He knew nothing of the painful events of my diagnosis nor the struggles that followed.
Jonathan was only two years old when I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an untreatable, degenerative retinal disease. It wasn’t just my life that was forever changed on that fateful October day, but also the lives of my husband and my son. Our world was suddenly turned upside down. Jonathan was too young to understand the unfolding drama, but I know he felt the heartache and the stress.
Jonathan grew up with a legally blind mother, learning early how to accommodate for my visual field deficits. His childhood was so different from that of his peers, but he handled it all with the simple acceptance of a child. My life had been radically altered, but to him, this was normal. He never knew anything different.
Of course, he understood more as he grew older, but we never dwelled on my visual limitations. I didn’t hide my problems from him, but I purposely chose not to weigh him down with them either. He was such a happy little boy, and I didn’t want him to be sad for me. My need to protect my loved ones can be a fierce emotion, and perhaps I was protecting my son from some of my painful realities.
It suddenly occurred to me that my grown son needed to know these stories. He didn’t know what I went through in the beginning of my journey, nor many of the things that helped me along the way. He saw the results of God‘s faithfulness in my life, but he didn’t know the specifics. The primary reason I began writing the book was for my son. I wanted Jonathan to know my story, all of my story, in the hopes that one day, when he needs encouragement, he can remember my struggles and the powerful ways God showed up when I needed Him most.
I know Jonathan experienced the hurt of my diagnosis, even if he couldn’t understand it. What he doesn’t know is just how much he was part of the healing. He gave me the will to go on, to create a good life for him. In caring for him, I found purpose and joy. That joy sustained me through some very dark times. I wanted Jonathan to see in words what I know that he knows in his heart, just how much his mother loves him.
I didn’t start out with the intention of sharing these stories beyond the family. I had visions of recordeing this memoir on white printed pages in a looseleaf notebook. Perhaps I would wrap it up for a Christmas or birthday present someday. Yet, as with so many things in my life, God had other plans. He had a plan that I couldn’t see at first. He eventually woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me about it, but that is a story for later. How about I tell you more next week?
O Lord God Almighty, How great is Your faithfulness. How good are your plans for us. You work all things together for good, even when our eyes cannot see it, even when our minds cannot grasp it. O Lord,thank You for Your guiding hand, Your gentle touch, Your amazing grace. May we keep our eyes focused on You, trusting that whatever happens, You will work it all out for Your good purposes.
In the Holy Name of Jesus, we offer our thanks and praise,
Want to read more of Anita’s story?
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Rough Places Smooth:
Moments in a Journey Through Blindness
by Anita Peden Sherer
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AS PAPERBACK AND KINDLE EBOOK!