As I See It

snellen-eye-chart-1This year there is a “Light the World” Challenge going on for the month of December. Each day there is a new descriptive idea of how Jesus Christ was a Light to the World, portraying an example He set for all of us. For December 3rd, 2016 the character trait described is: “Jesus helped others to see and so can you.”

My mother had macular degeneration. Soon after my firstborn, Nathan, made his entrance into the world, and after several months of symptoms and scheduling doctor appointments and tests, Mom finally got the official diagnosis.

She was crushed and devastated and bitter and angry and sad – all the stages of accepting a loss in your life.

My dad had passed away suddenly some twenty years prior to this day, leaving my mom to raise us four girls – ages three to 17. Mom had taught in Idaho before her marriage but never had to teach since getting married and especially not in Utah. It took her a year after my dad died to re-certify her teaching degree. Her major was in Home Economics with a minor in English. When she went job hunting, the only opening was for an English teacher at Springville Junior High School. She took it in hopes of eventually transferring into the home economics department – her true love. It wasn’t long until she realized the home ec teachers were going to be teaching as long as she would be; with every intention of staying in their respective departments.

So for some 16 years she taught English. She was the best English teacher you could hope to have. Only problem was, you didn’t realize that until you were well into life, with those junior high years only a tiny memory in the rear view mirror.

Finally she got a break and the sewing teacher at the junior high retired. She had her dream job. For about a year. Then she found out about the macular degeneration. It was difficult to see straight on. Images were wavy and out of proportion. Peripherally she could see adequately but straight on sight continued spiraling downward. She could no longer evaluate sewing projects as no seam line looked straight. She was trying to decide what her future was going to be now. Certainly not what her carefully drafted blueprints had looked like not that long ago. She needed to plan and prepare. Because, after all, there was no one to take care of her….but her.

Enter Nathan. Born with bilateral lower limb deficiency. His birth defects hit her hard. Again she was crushed and devastated and bitter and angry and sad. Her faith wavered. Her understanding was lacking. I think she cried harder and more than I did.

However, without batting an eye {no pun intended} or taking a second breath, or having a plan in place, she said to me, “I would give my eyes this very minute if it meant Nathan would have his legs.”

I knew she meant it, too. If it were possible, it would have been done before her lips closed over the last word.

Of course, it wasn’t to be that easy – for either of them. And so or twenty-some-odd years I watched her deal with less and less eyesight. I was with her when she had to give up her driver’s license. What a sad day. She didn’t have a license when Daddy died and I remember what a big deal it was when, with the help of friends, she got her Utah driver’s license. She was independent! And she drove that Edsel into the ground! And now, she was being asked to hand that hard-earned independence back over the counter. And. Walk. Away.

Fortunately, Mom was able to take an early retirement and began to fill her days with projects she had never had time for. But her eyes didn’t cooperate as much as she had hoped. Sewing was a thing of the past. She went from counted cross stitch projects to needlepoint projects with plastic canvas {and larger holes} to crocheting. I would help her shop for yarn combinations and then we’d carefully sort them into the dozen or so baskets she had in the closet. Each basket – another afghan, the pattern to which she had either written in bold letters with a thick marker or she had memorized. More than often it was the latter. I don’t remember the number of afghans she had crocheted by the time she passed away but I remember watching in awe as she felt for the next hole over and over again, row after row. And all the books she used to read to her English classes, she now listened to on tapes from the State Library for the Blind. She listened and crocheted and kept her mind so very alert.

So….needless to say, I throw a little celebration every year when I leave the ophthalmologist’s office with a clean bill of “EYE” health. But I can’t help but wonder, are my eyes really that good? Does his diagnosis really mean anything?

I feel like each day of my life is an “eye test”. I’m surrounded by people in various situations and struggles and life experiences. Some of their own choosing. Some perhaps more circumstantial. A few of them ideal and some, well, some are just downright unfair. And I wonder {sometimes more verbally than I should} about their situation and why they don’t do something about it or make different choices. It would be so easy, right?

At least in my eyes.

Am I seeing that bottom line on the chart? That fine print? Or do I focus on the fact that I can read that top line perfectly without skipping a beat or stumbling over whether it’s a “C” or a “G”? Goodness knows the type font is large enough. And I think I see it all.

But that bottom line.

Grateful to be able to go home and kneel down before my Heavenly Father and get a real eye test and be shown the real source of Light in the World. He will remind me that “I” do not see the whole picture and it is not my place to judge. He will guide me through the letters on that bottom, small-font line:

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