Is Today the Day I Go Blind, Lord?
Coping with Ongoing Vision Loss
For someone with an incurable eye disease like Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) ultimately resulting in near or complete blindness, there’s fear and grieving along the vision loss journey.
For me, it happens when I realize that I can no longer do a certain activity because my vision has worsened.
Or because it’s changing, and not for the better, which happened again a few days ago.
When I was looking at a link on the computer screen, the screen went all blurry. It was so blurry that I couldn’t even see where to x it out.
Of course, I thought it was the computer. I spent a couple of minutes trying to fine-tune the screen so I could locate the x on the top left hand side.
Then I looked at the computer table.
I stared at my hand.
Suddenly, it hit me … it wasn’t the screen. It wasn’t an opt-in form that invaded the site to make it blurry.
It was my vision.
Oh God, no, please no. Please, please, no. I’m not ready.
I felt my heart in my throat. The longer the blur remained, the more the panic came.
Although I’d been losing my vision over a twenty-five year period, suddenly, it was too soon. Too much too soon.
Stinging tears wet my eyes.
Is this the day I’m going blind, Lord?
My eyes locked onto the blurry screen as I tried to absorb that shocking thought. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, swiping at the tears rolling down my face. Oh brother! I closed my eyes. A couple of minutes later, I opened them.
I could see my fingertips again! I could see the table top! A few seconds later, the computer screen had re-asserted itself. My vision had returned!
It took a few minutes for my heartbeat to return to normal.
Lord, maybe I’m not going blind today after all!
But what the heck just happened? Was it one of ‘those’ days?
Yes, I’d asked myself that question more than a few times over the years, especially at the start. But things had never gone completely blurry before. Sometimes my loss is so gradual, I don’t know what I’ve lost until it’s gone.
As I thought about this recent experience, the memory of a photo taken with a group of my female students in the Arabian Gulf came to mind. We were to use it as a cover photo for a magazine we were producing.
“Oh ladies, it’s all blurry!” I’d cried. “We’ll have to take another.”
“No teacher, it’s good this way. We no want all the people see our faces,” one girl explained.
“But the photo is supposed to be the main cover focus .” I protested, letting out a big disappointed sigh as I frowned at the blurry photo. “No, we’ll just have to re-do it,” I said decisively.
“No Miss Amy, please, to listen me,” another girl said. “Photos of ladies very bad. Not important.” She slapped the photo over face down. “We can using this one. It not necessary for it be clear to say our message. In our culture, it’s better. We agreed the picture for you, not us. We are moving forward–graduating–and the words we write in the life is important more than the picture.”
A grammatical disaster after two years of English. But I understood the students’ intended point to me that day. And I realized that the blurry picture would have to do.
I remember this conversation well and how it impacted me, the perfectionist. I was at the end of the second semester in my first year of teaching in the Middle East. I tried hard to understand a culture in which women preferred their words to an image. To me, the photo was concrete proof of their success.
But apparently, they didn’t need that kind of proof.
Now as I think about that brief interlude of totally blurred vision I experienced, I wonder if I don’t have the wrong focus once again.
My understanding is still focused on the concrete. I’m not familiar enough with the culture in which God operates. Or do I really know more but don’t want to apply it?
I stubbornly choose to see life from my perspective — not His.
But isn’t the culture that God operates from my real culture?
I know my words and actions are important but are they more important than what I see?
God doesn’t always take away our struggles. He didn’t take away my sister’s struggle. She glorified Him throughout her sickness never stopping even at her death.
She lived by faith.
When I was grappling with trying to see her shrunken form, she was probably grappling with, “Lord, is today the day I’ll go to meet you?” Yet she radiated a quiet joy.
Lord, help me to trust and rely on You.
When I look at the photo now, and read the words “Our Story,” I wonder why I scanned that part as well. I just read something this morning about how stories stay with us and are planted in our hearts.
My story is what God is doing in and through me.
God placed me here for His purposes. To honor and point others to His eternal culture.
This is not the first time I’ve thought about why God is not stopping my vision loss. Why I have to lose something so precious. Why I have to constantly battle my environment to achieve my goals. Why?
Will I always fear and ask, “Is today the day I go blind?”
Panic and fear are my first responses to new and scary situations, especially when it comes to vision loss.
If I really trust God, His way and His plan are always better for me than my own- whether it includes blurred images or none at all.
And if I believe that He is sovereign that means that I trust Him. No. Matter. What.
Oh Lord, help me to adapt more and more to Your permanent culture. If it takes my blurred vision for others to see You more clearly, then help me trust you more fully. Please Lord, open doors for me to share stories of Your love and how You provide as I continue to lose vision.
Most of all, teach me to stop asking, “Is this the day that I go blind?” Replace it with, “I walk by faith and not by sight.”
This music video, Walk by Faith by Jeremy Camp, touched me. I hope it also speaks to you in whatever you are struggling with right now.
Walk by Faith, Not Sight
By Jeremy Camp
You have just read, “Is Today the Day I Go Blind,” by Amy L. Bovaird, May 31, 2015. I would love to have you leave a comment on my post!