“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
“It’s me. Karen.” The woman touched me softly on the shoulder to get my attention.
If only I could see clearly!
A blurry face framed with just-darker-than-honey bobbed hair leaned in. I angled my face to get a better, less blurry, focus. The speaker stood a head taller than me.
Who do I know with that name?
I studied her clothing. Her build. Her height. Then it came to me. Karen. From high school.
Yes, her presence made perfect sense now. I was standing, purse in hand, at the Methodist church after the memorial service of a mutual high school friend’s father.
“You’re looking good,” she said kindly.
I wanted to say, “You’re looking blurry” but didn’t think that was an appropriate response. I held back a smile.
“Are you staying for the meal?” Karen asked.
“Uh, yes. I guess.” I looked around for Lynn. We had spent the best years of our childhood and teenage years together. The least I could do was eat a meal at the wake of her father.
“Let’s sit together then.” Karen guided me to a table. Lynn pulled up a chair across from us.
I tried to follow the conversation but had to concentrate as both people seemed to blur. Karen spoke. Lynn replied. Karen. Lynn. Lynn. Karen. I felt like I was at a ping-pong match.
Oh no! They’ve just asked me a question.
“Excuse me?” Who do I look at?
More and more frequently, my surroundings seem surreal. Because I can’t see or hear well, I can’t always follow the conversation and I feel disconnected.
The older people at church understand where I’m coming from, they say. I’m almost one of ’em.
“I’ve gotta run now,” Karen handed her empty paper plate and cup to one of the church women clearing tables. She turned to me. “Great to see you again, Amy. See you at the reunion next year!”
“Yeah, of course.” I smiled brightly. The tall blur left.
Tears blurred my eyes even more.
I can distinguish people I see every day by their walk, their form and their stance but I can’t always recognize those I don’t see often. In fact, this had been happening more frequently than I liked to admit.
I must have a blank look on my face for them to identify themselves.
One could well imagine that on these ocassions I look vacant. Dumb. Stupid.
On the other hand, it would be easy for me to simply say “I’m having a bad vision day,” and leave it at that. But I know that’s not true. It’s not simply one day. It’s my ever-unfolding life of deteriorating vision.
I was headed to a fine pity party!
“Amy, listen carefully.” The voice came from within. A voice I had come to recognize. “Stop that right now. Let My Light filter through your blurred vision. You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. My beauty shines in your imperfection.”
God brought back the words of a devotional I had recently read. It talked about a butterfly whose wing had been broken as it was clenched in the hands of an uncomprehending autistic child. The image of that broken wing stayed with the writer that night. The writer added that a day later she encountered a little girl with Down’s Syndrome who sang, “I am a beautiful butterfly” again and again. She was struck by the idea that God shines in our brokenness and through the pain.
Yes, I am broken, too. Sometimes I feel that I am in fragments–a clown tripping and falling through life. But sometimes I feel it’s not even very funny. It just HURTS! It’s just a series of Bam! Oops! Owe! Yikes! Bong! And now the blurriness. You get the point…
But God wasn’t finished talking to me yet.
An image of myself came to me from almost twenty years earlier when I was visiting San Padre Island in Texas. I was skipping on the beach, just feeling wonderful. I remember seeing the sunshine spread across the waves, extend itself to me on the sand and warm my shoulders. That thought comes to me in crystal clarity. I could see my colleague and a few international students from a distance but now, looking back, it seemed that moment touched me alone.
It’s so scary when I realize I have to face yet another change in my vision loss but God assures me that I am so beautiful because of Him. He is the sunlight that forges the path in front of me.
“It’s me. God.” He touches me softly on my shoulder to get my attention.
I see Him every day. I know Him by His build. His stance. His walk. I think I even know Him by His touch.
It’s His streaming sunlight that makes my blurry world come into focus. Whatever I don’t see, He exchanges with some startling clear insight to enable me to continue on my way.
He replaces my vision loss with vision gain.
The memory of that day on San Padre Island with me skipping with abandon on the sand is captured in a photograph. Suddenly, I feel the peace and freedom of that long-ago time with the sunlight gently caressing my shoulder near the water.
I have no doubt that I have shed my cocoon and emerged a beautiful butterfly. Or perhaps I emerge new each day, again and again.
I realize that God doesn’t plan to dash away at the end of my meal. He is going to stay close so that I always recognize His presence.
On the outside, I can’t recognize old friends as easily as I once could because of my vision. But I can still recognize THE ONE who I walk with each day. On the inside, I dare to fly unfettered. God is shaping my butterfly wings, and deepening the colors with His beauty.
Thank you, Lord, that the old is gone, and the new has come!