What We Can’t See

About 7 weeks ago, I experienced one of the scariest weekends in my life. I woke up Saturday morning to the whimper of my daughter ready to start her day. It was as normal as a Saturday can get. I made coffee, got Eliana some breakfast and sat down in our oversized recliner with her. Being an amazing parent, I usually allow the kids to watch their iPad first thing in the morning. I do this so I can finish up a post or do something for myself. This particular morning, I watched one of my TV shows.

As I am watching, Blackish, I start to notice if I look directly at the person’s face, I can’t really see them well. At first, I chalk it up to being tired. I did, however, only get a few hours of sleep the night before. After some time of watching, I changed out my contacts. My hope was that my inability to see was nothing more than some dirt or calcium deposit on my contact.

After getting my contacts changed, I am back in the chair with Eliana and now Jonas, who has awoken. Then, I realize my vision hasn’t improved. A bit of concern rushes over me, but I tell myself that I’m probably experiencing a migraine and I just need to lay down. When Alissa gets up, I talk with her about what is going on. Alissa is an ophthalmic technician and knows just about everything that could ever go wrong with our eyes. After I talk with her about what is going on, she is somewhat stumped and agrees it may just be a migraine.

I don’t take naps. If sleep weren’t so necessary to our survival and feel so good after we wake up, I’d skip that too. Think of all the time wasted sleeping. Think of all the things we could accomplish in that time. For me to ever suggest to Alissa that I need to lay down and rest, you better believe I’m sick. And that’s exactly what happened. I took a nap in the hopes that when I awoke, this nightmare that is now getting worse, would be over.

Three hours later, I awake to my sight being worse than before. It feels like I have tunnel vision on the left side of my vision and I can’t shake it. I am now a little panicked, but I keep my composure and talk with Alissa about everything that is going on. She is still baffled by what the problem might be. The rest of the day, I clung to the hope that it would all be better in the morning. But, it wasn’t.

Sunday is the busiest day of my week. Standing in the kids’ ministry hallway, with people whizzing by in both directions, can be dizzying for anyone. It’s especially so for someone who is struggling to see anything directly in front of them. The best way to describe it, it’s like having multiple blurry spots in your vision. In bright hallways and rooms, it wasn’t as bad as it was in darker rooms. Through all of the motion and busyness of Sunday, I survived and made it home.

After talking with Alissa about it more, she texts her boss and gets me on the schedule to see her doctor first thing Monday morning. It took dilation and a series of test, but the doctor finally had an answer for what it might be. However, I’d have to visit a retina specialist on Wednesday to confirm. “Wednesday?!?! Do you know how long I have dealt with this and it’s not getting any better?”

No I didn’t say that to the doctor. It was just how I was feeling, because 5 days is a long time to go with blind spots in your vision.

Wednesday arrives and I see the retina specialist. After one of the most excruciating eye exams I have ever experienced, mainly because he put a lens directly on my eyeball, he confirms what the previous doctor had suspected. MEWDS, or Multiple Evanescent White Dot Syndrome, is a rare inflammatory eye disease, where the retina experiences white lesions that block the field of vision. It’s extremely rare in men, there is no explanation about what causes it, and there is no treatment other than the six to nine weeks to fully recover.

Six to nine weeks was an incredibly long time.

Today, I received an all clear from the retina specialist. He said recurrence is unlikely, but not impossible. I’m healed and should not have anymore problems, in regards to MEWDS.

The entire process of waiting on my vision to come back taught me some pretty valuable lessons on what we can’t see.

We take everyday things, like our sight, for granted.

I don’t think I ever fully imagined what it would be like to lose sight in one or both of my eyes. Without my glasses or contacts I have really bad eye sight, but my go to first thing is to put in my contacts. It’s easy to take the small things that God has blessed us with for granted. Our eyes are one of the smallest parts of our body, but think about how valuable they are. You have two and, as far as I know, they cannot be replaced. I have a friend who had to have an eye removed at a young age due to an eye disease. Now, I have more empathy and respect for him being as successful as he is.

I think one reason God says, “Be still, and know that I am God!”, Psalm 46:10, is to help us see better. When we slow down, we value everything a little more. Slowing down allows us to take in the beauty and wonder that is God and His creation.

Our sight is not the only thing we take for granted. Small moments with important people in our lives; our spouse, kids, family, and friends; tend to get washed over with seemingly more important tasks. Our kids need us to be present. We have to be present with our kids when they are young so they will allow us to be present when they are teenagers/adults. Being present is made up of small moments we get to share and recognizing them as such. There is always something to do and you’ll have time to get to it, but you won’t always have time with the people you love most. Cherish your tribe.

If we become more focused on others, we tend to worry about our problems less.

As days turned into weeks, I focused less and less on what was going on with my vision and more on my tribe and I began to forget about the spots. Alissa would periodically ask me how my sight was and I’d have to stop and think about it, “Still the same!” The difference? I wasn’t fixated on my problem and so I began to worry less and less. I know, it easy for me to say because I knew that it would eventually go away, but so will everything…eventually.

Whatever you are going through, fight with all your might, but don’t worry about the outcome. God’s got it. It’s not a surprise to Him that you are dealing with this situation. He isn’t twiddling His thumbs and wondering how this got past Him. He knows and Jesus has given us victory, either in this life or the next. As you are fighting, if you will fixate on others more than your situation, you will have to be reminded that your situation is still there. Depression sets in when we focus inwardly.

Vision is extremely important to function in today’s society, but not 100% necessary.

I can’t imagine not being able to drive and having to rely on someone else to transport me around. Life without vision would be extremely difficult, but not impossible. Overcoming difficulties in life take a remarkable amount of grit and will power. You have to decide everyday that this situation won’t define you. You have to set in your mind that you will not be a victim. But, it is hard work. Living in a society that tells us in no uncertain terms that the easy life is the best life, makes it unbelievably hard to want to fight for what we want. (Check out my post Limitless where I talk about getting what we desire.)

A saying that I use to hear as a kid is, “It’s time to put your big boy pants on and get to work.” It’s not easy, especially when we are sick or have something else plaguing us. I believe that’s why being a part of a community, like the local church, allows us to press on and when we can’t do it any longer the church holds us up.

Our ability to see is one thing we take for granted. Slow down, be still, and see the blessings that are all around you. When we focus on others, or problems become less visible. However, sometimes it is impossible not to see our situation. In those moments we have to lean into our tribe. Our sight is important, but not as necessary as vision for our lives. The words Winston Churchill proclaimed at the height of WWII, “We must never give up. Never, never, never.”, must become our mantra no matter our circumstances.

It’s time to open our eyes and see the beauty that is before us. Slow down, be still, and take it all in.

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