By Richard Trenner February 14, 2017 – When you’re in your thirties and the book you’ve written about your life has just been published, you must have done something amazing. The “you” in this case is the Reverend Laura Bratton ’10, author of Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity with Grit and Gratitude (Clovercroft Publishing, 2016).
Yet the “something amazing” is not one spectacular accomplishment—not an “I-conquered-Everest-all-alone-in-a-blizzard” page-turner. Rather, the amazing feat is a complex patchwork of achievements, some large, some small, in a life marked by intense physical and emotional loss—yet a life lived with equally intense determination and joy.
Harnessing Courage is a story of tremendous psychological and spiritual grace. Bratton, the first blind graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, lost her sight to macular degeneration at a very young age. Then, through the difficult process of adjusting to the loss, she gained insight into what it means to live a very full life as a blind person and a committed Christian.
She recently returned to Princeton Seminary to share her story. Through her motivational talk, she encouraged the audience to persevere in times of adversity and loss, and to appreciate the ordinary and daily graces that surround us.
Through her motivational talk, she encouraged the audience to persevere in times of adversity and loss, and to appreciate the ordinary and daily graces that surround us.
One of the life lessons that sticks with Bratton is her realization that the path to gratitude is paved with good old-fashioned “grit.” She learned this lesson at nine years old, when she was faced with the devastating news that she would eventually be blind. By high school, she could no longer navigate the world without the assistance of a guide. Yet she did not let this profound loss define her story, which is one of the most remarkable aspects of her character. As she powerfully writes in her book, “We have a choice. We cannot choose many of the circumstances that occur in our life. However, we can choose how we respond.”
“We have a choice. We cannot choose many of the circumstances that occur in our life. However, we can choose how we respond.”
She persevered through college and seminary; she learned how to advocate for her needs, and she continued to follow her life’s calling. Today she serves as the senior pastor of the Laurens Road United Method Church in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the founder of Ubi Global LLC, an organization that provides coaching to people recovering from traumatic situations. Through her writing, speaking, and coaching, she is an inspiration as she chooses to live each day with thanksgiving.
Learn more about Laura Bratton’s life and work at http://www.ubiglobal.org/.
Watch the full video of Bratton's talk on our Multimedia page.
“Informal time in discussion groups with faculty and students discussing feminist theological literature, altered my views, excited my spirit, and greatly influenced my teaching.”