Picture what it would be like to have a conversation with your eyes closed. All judgements and appearances wouldn’t matter, only one thing would really surface: your character. This is how Alyssa Rossi likes to make conversation. The interaction usually makes a quick exit from small-talk and delves into who they really are.
Rossi, 19, was born blind with a condition called Reverse Congenital Amaurosis. Having to deal with being blind her entire life, she has learned to accept it and to embrace the person God made her.
“Blindness is a disability, but not a limitation. It’s not something I focus on, and I don’t see it as a handicap,” Rossi said.
Having lost the sense of sight, Rossi has learned to depend more on her other senses and has learned to see the world in other ways. The sounds of laughter, the feel of the sunshine on her face, or the fragrance of a flower are just a few ways in which she connects to the world around her.
Rossi has been through both public and private schools, moving from one place to another, finally ending up in Simi Valley, CA. Coming from a family of two sisters and one brother, her family life hasn’t been exactly perfect. When she was in high school her parents separated, and that has been one of the hardest things she has dealt with, in addition to her younger brother also being blind. Throughout high school she participated in vaulting on horses and running cross-country, using oral signs from teammates to help her play.
Around the age of 10, the Vanguard singers and band came to her church and played. She loved their music so much, the school left a lasting impression on her. As far as taking notes in class, she has a braille machine. Her major is Music and Worship Arts, and her hobbies include music, training dogs, exercise, piano, baking, and reading.
Her blindness has affected her faith in God by reinforcing the concept that she can’t see God, but she knows He’s there. Her faith in God is strong because she has to deal with the concept of trust every day. She has learned to trust in people and have faith that they won’t lead her into the street or a wall.
“It’s easy to doubt God’s existence when you can’t see him, but you have to have confidence that he’s leading you in the right direction. Just like every day I grab people’s arms and let them guide me. In the same way, you need to take God’s arm and let him guide you. I know it’s going to be okay, because God knows the road ahead.”
Alyssa admits she actually loves being blind. “The first thing I get to see every morning is Jesus’ face – and what is better than that?”
Sometimes she gets angry because she can’t see her mother’s face or a beautiful sunset, but then she realizes that it’s not worth it.
The second reason why she loves being blind goes against the typical view of the world. “God allows me to see people for who they really are – their hearts and their intentions.”
Since she can’t see their physical features, she focuses on their personalities. “Honestly, it’s a better way to live. If I had the choice to see again, I would choose to stay blind.”
As a result, Alyssa has always had friends who might be considered outcasts to the rest of the world, friends who people might just glance over and keep walking. “I’m human, so I probably would have judged them based on their appearance. But because I’m blind, I see them differently.”
She has never been mad at God for not giving her sight, except for when she was 13 and all the girls were obsessed with putting on glitter lipstick and looking in the mirror. That is the only time when she desperately wished she could see. Then something happened one day, and God gave her a new song to sing. She started singing the words but felt like they weren’t hers. The song was called “Tell Me If I’m Beautiful” and basically stated that the mirror doesn’t tell you what you look like, only God does.
“I’m still learning that lesson even today and struggling with things like weight and appearance. But God is constantly reminding me that I’m beautiful.”
Rossi sang the song every night before she went to bed so she would never forget the words, but never wrote down it down until a couple years later.
Rossi has plans not only to inspire the community of Vanguard, but to use her blindness to inspire the rest of the world. After college, she wants to travel and do something in ministry. But she’ll honestly admit she has no idea what she wants to do with her life other than be ready for God to use her. She can’t wait to change the world one eye at a time.