Over the years, I have learned that reality does not always correspond to what I see with my physical eyes. As a child oblivious to my own nearsightedness, I remember being completely shocked when I found out that what I saw on the blackboard was not actually what the teacher had written. Many of the math problems I had correctly answered had been marked wrong, as I had copied them incorrectly and had worked the wrong problem. After a seemingly magical eye exam and acquisition of a pair of glittery red frames for my new glasses (frames only an eight-year-old girl could possibly find attractive), I marveled at the new view available to me through those glasses.
Over the years, I became increasingly nearsighted but always felt confident in what I could see with my glasses, and — by the age of fourteen — high-powered contacts. In my early thirties, when I could no longer be corrected with glasses (for some then-unknown reason), I remained nonplussed, as my contact lenses were extremely effective in correcting my vision.
Even when I was diagnosed with keratoconus in my mid-forties, I did not worry too much, as specialty contact lenses could be ordered to bring the multiple images I saw into focus. However, I became concerned when I began to experience challenges with reading (rather than only with distance). It turned out that I was seeing double images on a regular basis and did not even realize it. My eye doctor had to prove it to me in her office by compelling me to gaze at a series of single images with both eyes open; in every instance, I saw double images instead of single ones. I was flabbergasted! She explained to me that the brain has an amazing capacity to compensate for vision malfunctions and override such things as duplicate images. Fortunately, a simple surgical procedure corrected the double vision issue (but not the ghost images characteristic of keratoconus), and I was up and running again in short order.
More recently, I suffered a retinal detachment and underwent emergency surgery to have it repaired. Again, what was surprising is that I had no idea that the small blind spot in the corner of my field of vision was due to the retina beginning to detach. Although I continued life as usual (carrying heavy book cartons, running up and down stairs, hopping on a couple of planes) for over a week, the expanding tear did not reach the macula — for which I am grateful! When I finally called the eye doctor, she summarily ushered me off to emergency surgery with a specialist. This procedure, while highly successful, has caused me to experience life with vision in only one eye for an extended period of time. Whereas vision is slowly returning in the operated eye, it is obscured and quite blurry during the healing process.
As I reflect on my decades-long history of vision limitations and corrections, I am reminded of how vastly different God’s vision is from ours. My human vision, even when corrected by brilliant physicians, is still far from perfect. Moreover, even when I think I am seeing everything well, I have a tendency to automatically compensate for my vision shortfalls to the point that I fail to recognize my own impairment. Certainly, using only one eye the past several days has required me to acknowledge my insufficient range of vision and has made me painfully aware of the perils of being essentially blind on one side of my body.
What have I distilled from these challenges? I must make a concerted effort to rely on the Holy Spirit to empower me to see people and situations from His perspective, as He sees and understand things that are invisible and incomprehensible to me. As the Lord explains in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)
Yes, my human vision is miserably inadequate, but God promises to grow me in seeing things His way. In I Corinthians 13:11-12, Paul states, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
I thank You, Father, that You are Lord of my vision — both physical and spiritual, and You are able to make blind eyes see, both physically and spiritually. Be Thou My vision, O Lord of my heart!