Silent Darkness: Jennifer Rothschild

An Inspiration

Jennifer Rothschild is an inspirational woman who never let her blindness get in her way. She is the author of the book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight.

"At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of Retinitis Pigmentosa," Jennifer says. "I would eventually become totally blind. So early on, I think I struggled with disappointment and the challenges of learning
to adjust with this disappointment. As a teenager, I remember feeling very self-conscious because, of course, I was running into things and tripping. Like, how was I going to finish high school? And, are boys going to want to date me? I didn't like having to hold onto someone's arm, and I remember feeling so glaringly obvious when I got my first white cane, and I had to be dependent on that.

"When I learned to focus on what I had gained, rather than what I had lost, that made all the difference in the world to me," Jennifer says. "Because of blindness, my other senses have gone through the roof. One of the best compensations because of my sight has been the enhancement of my memory. Blindness for me has become my friend rather than my enemy. I was inspired to write Lessons I Learned in the Dark because mine is a story of hope.
I was asked to be a guest speaker last year on the Women of Faith tour, and it has changed my life in so many ways. One of the greatest gifts of being a part of Women of Faith was meeting and becoming friends with so many of the speakers. Of course, one of those is Robin McGraw, who has truly made my life richer since I've met her. The greatest challenge really has very little to do with whether I can or can't see, but has far more to do with my attitude. You often can't change the disability, you can't change the circumstance, and the absolutely only thing you can do is control and change your attitude."

 

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Dr. Phil asks Jennifer, "As you dealt with the loss of your sight, how important were your parents and their attitude?"

"Well, my parents response to my blindness, I think, gave texture and color to the way I responded because I was virtually a child, 15 years old. I didn't have a lot of emotional stock in my warehouse from which I could draw to deal with such a catastrophe. And I remember early on looking at
my mom and dad, and they always modeled tenacity and unshakable faith, a real can-do spirit, and because I wasn't really sure how to deal with it, I just copied them," Jennifer says. "And thankfully, then I eventually embraced that on my own, and it really became personal to me ... And I think the real hero in my story is my mom and my dad. And when I hear George, with such integrity, saying, ‘I just wanted to be the hero,' I think we have to redefine hero. The hero isn't the person who comes in and fixes everything. The hero is the person who's willing to stand when the battle just won't quit. That's what George and Liz have done, that's what my parents did, and that's why I'm who I am today."

 

"From someone who does live in the dark, how important is the touch, and the feel, and the warmth and the presence of these parents to these children?" Dr. Phil asks.

[AD]"Well, it's absolutely essential because it's all that they really have to experience communication," she says. "And they would know so much better than I, but I know in my darkness, I depend on physical touch for guidance, for reassurance. The real disability would be if because of that handicap, defiance or anger or bitterness took over, and to me that's far more of a handicap than being blind or them being deaf. And I am convinced there is always hope. There are two heroes whom God has given those little girls as parents, and they're going to fight the good fight, and with tenacity, and trust and tears, there's going to be a way that they make it through."