Jesus the Other Sun
Guiding me along the lighted path…
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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 28:11, NIV.
God’s Plan Shown Through a Class Reunion
I never dreamed of the positive outcomes that God had in store for me when I volunteered to help with the class reunion that took place this past weekend. But God knew. Little by little, His plan unfolded. It began five years ago.
I was standing in line to eat when I found the words tumbling out of my mouth.“I’ll help out with the next reunion.” I didn’t know then that not many people actually desired that job. But when the organizers snatched up my proposal so fast my head spun, I had an inkling that I couldn’t back out. No one else volunteered. There was no warm committee to join. As far as I could tell, I made up the committee! What had I gotten myself into?
By the end of the night, however, another classmate said noncommittally, “Maybe Bob and I will help out.” Husband and wife, and both members of the class, God slipped the second part of His plan into place. Veteran organizers, her goodwill offer reassured me I wouldn’t have to plan alone.
I’d only been back home a few years from overseas where I lived for the past ten years and the timing was good. It was part of my re-adapting-to-life-in-the-States period. The 2009 Class Reunion was a happy time for me. Being out in the dark challenged me but I didn’t fall even once–quite the feat for a night blind gal like me. No one even suspected I had a vision problem — or so I thought. But on the drive home I found out differently. My friend commented, “So-and-so thought you were drunk because you were stumbling … a little bit,” she added delicately.
“No way! Really?”
The other classmate said, “A few others thought the same thing. But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. I know how to keep a secret.”
I was speechless.
The way she said that, I felt having poor vision — or any physical problem — was shameful. I knew it wasn’t my fault. I just thought, for once, I wouldn’t have to worry about things. That no one was paying attention. That we all just had fun. It was difficult to make it across the large yard to the outdoor toilet but I didn’t fall. I took my time. Or maybe I asked someone for help. Was I in denial?
I had to say something. “Oh well, that’s how things are. No biggie,” I said, opposite to what my self-talk was saying at that moment. I felt the warm, fuzzy feelings from that evening drain from me.
At the wheel, my oldest friend said loyally, “I set them straight. I said you had problem seeing at night.”
And in the light…all the time, to be honest. At home that night, I tossed in bed. Great! Now my classmates think I have a drinking problem. Just the impression I wanted to leave!
God set the next part of His plan into place a few days later. I got a job teaching Spanish at a local Christian school.
I shared the good news with Sue and she bluntly said, “You have got to seek help for your vision. You have to tell people. What if they think you have a drinking problem? This is a small town. You have your professional reputation to keep up, you know.”
I hung my head. “I know.”
To make a long story short, I took Sue’s advice. Because I’d been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1989, I found out I qualified for help from the State. I learned through more tests that I had Usher’s Syndrome, progressive hearing loss, as well. I grieved terribly that first year. But, God provided everything I needed to succeed teaching in a foreign language classroom–hearing aids, a long white can, which I hid except when I left the school, and a wonderful, understanding principle. God also gave me a second teaching job — at a local college. And better than anything, a mobility instructor. By the end of that academic year, I got over my fear of being “discovered.” I spoke in chapel about how God continuously challenged me in my faith, and yet always provided for my needs. I ended my talk by letting them know they would definitely be challenged as well at different points in their lives.
Over the next three years, God led me to the right people and training. With new tools in hand, I began to change my outlook and to accept my very visible weaknesses. But I still used the cane mostly at night and never in the classroom. My hearing problems created problems with a third teaching position and almost derailed me. But, instead, God led me to a new, full-time writing career–again, part of His ongoing plan for my life.
By November of the fifth year, Sue and I started planning for the 2013 Class Reunion. An experienced planner, she took charge–always careful to bounce her many ideas off me and include me and Bob in every decision. We worked well together. Sue made all the inquiries as to the place, food, photographs, and even composed the Reunion letter. I would have failed miserably at these tasks, except the letter, which we revised together and I addressed and mailed. She drove wherever we needed to be, so no stress there. Sue was a storehouse of wonderful, unique ideas. She was organized–a great planner, and knew how to delegate. As the time grew closer, we talked everyday. Clearly, God placed us together on purpose–I thought simply to make the 2013 reunion a success.
But God had so more in store for me.
We worked hard that week to set up all the tiny details to make the reunion memorable but to provide a very relaxed environment for everyone.
The 2013 Class Reunion was upon us!
I feared using my cane in front of my classmates. Not exactly FEAR but I imagined how awkward it would be. I’m sure I built it up in my mind. It always challenged me more to use my cane in front of people who knew me before I needed one. By this point, I was fine using it in front of perfect strangers.
At the beginning of the reunion. I avoided it all together. I told my cousin, Ron, and his wife how I wanted to take it out from under the table–and needed to–but just lacked the courage to take that step. “Don’t be vain, use your cane,” he said.
So I did!
And it was no big deal!
Once I got over that fear, I had the best time ever.
At the end of the second night, Sue and I talked as we drove home afterwards. “Do you see how positively everyone responded to you? Because your vision problem was out in the open. No one had to guess. You accepted you. You were putting others at ease. Everyone accepted you exactly the way you were.”
“I know.” I lifted my head high.
Joy oozed out of every pore in me on that drive home.
That night, I realized that God had used the Class Reunion as a vehicle to show me how much progress I’d made in accepting myself. The real problem was not others judging me, but me judging me, my denial, so many feelings of inadequacy that God overturned in those five years.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how detailed God’s plan was for me these past five years. With the 2009 Class Reunion as the first bookend and the 2013 Class Reunion as the second bookend, He increased my faith and shifted my focus to Him in that interim. Like the Master mobility instructor He is, He showed me how to move with confidence, humor and grace. To stop looking at myself and to focus on others. And to put one foot in front of the other in the darkness and move forward in new situations each day.
I am speechless.
He shows me a clear future, one abounding in hope. One that will not harm me. Whatever I do, whether I ever teach again or if I become a professional writer, I will prosper … even if not financially, certainly in my level of confidence. I hope to become wealthy in confidence based on what I can do through Him. I trust that I share God’s sense of humor. My frequent mishaps and poor hearing will keep me humble enough to provide laughs around the table — my treat!
He has revealed all this in His perfect timing. I’m so incredibly grateful.
The less I see, the more I see.