“Ms. Rouson, read the smallest line of letters that you can see.” Arrogantly I scoffed beneath my breath knowing that I could ace this portion of the vision screening; I could see pretty well, I thought to myself. I sat up straight and, as a natural reflex, squinted my eyes and began reading the line that was third from both the top and the bottom. “T Q P, no F, no… M S F, no P, no…I’m not sure.” Though I knew I struggled with the letters, I internally blamed it on the lighting or something. At that moment the optometrist slid the phoropter (the instrument used to determine glasses prescriptions) in front of my face and told me to read the line again. Little by little he changed the lenses asking, “Is this clearer?” throughout the process. “Ms. Rouson, please read that line for me one more time.” I quickly responded, “T Q F M S P.” I could see…clearly.
I remember my first pair of eye glasses; a red-rimmed, plastic plastic pair of oval shaped glasses. I loved them. My mommy bought glasses that were my favorite color, and they were so snazzy. “I’ll be one of the coolest glasses wearing kids in class,” I thought to myself as I strutted into Mrs. Faulk’s first grade classroom. What a great day! My friends thought my glasses where cute, I could see the chalk board a little better, and no one called me four eyes. Everything was going well until our after lunch reading circle. Though I was happy I could see well, my eyes grew tired from the adjustment of wearing glasses. In an effort to rest my eyes, I took my glasses off and sat them on the floor beside me as we sat in the reading circle. And then it happened…my friend, sat on my glasses. No…she CRUSHED my glasses. For whatever reason, I don’t really remember getting my glasses repaired. Maybe money was a bit tight, understandable since me and my two siblings had just gotten glasses. So much for seeing clearly…
Once in middle school I tried my luck with glasses again. For whatever reason, it was a group field trip to the eye doctor, and all of the Rouson kids got glasses…again. At that stage of life, wearing glasses wasn’t really cool, so whether by accident or accidentally on purpose, after eighth grade,”my glasses broke.” So much for seeing clearly…
I remember being in the 10th grade and being drug to the eye doctor. This time I begged my mom for contacts because I did NOT want to be any more different or awkward than I already was. It seemed obvious that I didn’t fit in with most of the other girls who walked the halls of Oscar Smith High School. Glasses would work against me. My mother being who she was didn’t argue with me long after seeing the optometrist. Her vote was for glasses (and I better not break them), but she wasn’t one to exhaust a lot of energy over foolishness. Her points were usually proven on their own. “Try putting the contact in your eyes,” she said with a smirk as we sat in the Optometrist’s office. Arrogantly I grabbed the sample pair of contacts, sat in front of the mirror, and struggled. I couldn’t get the contacts in my durn eye for blinking too much. After a frustrating 15 minutes, she suggested the option of glasses again. Being too stubborn for my own good I declined, and we left the eye doctor without glasses. So much for seeing clearly…
On a few more occasions I wore corrective lenses. In these cases, I was an adult and could make the choice whether or not I wanted to get glasses. With that same authority, I made the decision, for whatever reason, that I no longer wanted to wear them or keep up with the yearly eye exam. So much for seeing clearly… (This is dumb!)
Over the past two years my friends have began clowning me for the way I pull my cell phone forward and backwards as I try to see. In an effort to see things as clearly as possible, I have found myself squinting sometimes even without noticing. It was obvious that I needed glasses, but I wasn’t interested in accepting that. Instead, I convinced myself that my vision would rectify on its own. Despite my history of needing corrective measures to improve my vision in the past, I figured I was alright because I could see…just not clearly. But if I wasn’t sure that I needed help, why did I even go to the eye doctor in the first place? As stated matter-of-factually when asked something to that nature, I excused myself by saying it had been quite a while since my last eye exam. Furthermore, it had to have been the hours spent in front of a computer daily that has affected how I see. I completely dismissed the fact that I had a history of not seeing clearly and that I never continued the treatment from almost 24 years ago.
Jumping back to my recent visit to the eye doctor.
“Ms. Rouson, can you see the letters clearly?” With a bit of excitement I replied, “Yes, I can!” The optometrist then slid the phoropter away from my face and said, “This is what your vision has been everyday.” I stared at the blurred letters in front of me and sighed.
For years I settled for unclear vision. In an effort to compensate for my dysfunction, I’d squint, I’d move papers back in forth in front of my face, I’d enlarge any text that I could, or I’d simply ask someone to tell me what they saw.
Let me tell you a quick story…
Jesus and his disciples went to Bethsaida. Upon his arrival, some of the residents brought a blind man to him begging that he heal him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Once away from what was seemingly familiar to him, Jesus spit on the man’s eyes, laid his hands on the man, then asked, “Can you see anything now?” The man replied, ” Yes. I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” So Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. In that moment, according to the scripture, his eyes were opened, his sight was completely restored, and he could see clearly. Jesus instructed him to go home with these words, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.” (Mark 8:22-26)
Today’s blog has very little to do with my eye sight. I know you may disagree since I typed several paragraphs giving details of my eye health. Today I am talking not just about eye sight but insight.
There were a few things that I gathered while reading this story concerning this blind man. He must have been able to see at some point in his life; how else would he know what people or trees looked like? Furthermore, he must have known his way around his town because Jesus instructed him to go home but not to walk through the village on his way there. Also as a little side note, the man must have really wanted to be healed because he didn’t start swinging when Jesus spit in his eyes… I can’t say that I would have responded the same way.
Okay, so back to this insight. Life happenings have a grand way of affecting your perception: how you see things. For example, if I grew up in a home with an absent father, then dated guys with the proclivity to cheat, and later married a man who was abusive, my perception of love would be warped. I could possibly believe that love hurts and/or that all men are the same. But that’s not really how love is. Another example… If I grew up in poverty, watched my parents work long hours and make just enough money to still not have enough, then grew up to an adulthood what I was seemingly stuck in the cycle of struggle, I could possibly believe that the blessings promised in the word of God don’t apply to me. Hopefully you can see my point. …clearly.
Though there are those with life stories that are much worse than mine, it seems as if I have had to do a great deal of shuffling to the cards that my adulthood and even bits and pieces of my adolescent years have handed me. Grief, heartbreak, lack, struggle, missed opportunities, and even bad decisions caused me to settle for blurred vision…warped perception. I vividly remember crying declaring that I’d probably be alone forever all because my past relationships left me with broken pieces. I declared that I’d never let anyone else close to me because past friendships led to back stabbings and mistrust. I agreed with my feelings that I’d never live a life of abundance or even enough because I struggle had become my norm. I don’t know what caused the man in the scripture to lose his vision, but I am certain that the last decade or so of my life has affected me.
So here’s something that my best friend, Jo’sef, pointed out. Those who are blind have to rely heavily on other senses. Their hearing may sharpen, but most often you see them walking around with their hands out in front of them so they can feel what is around them. JoJo suggests that when your vision isn’t clear you rely on your feelings. OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!
Blind: All of my declarations of loneliness, lack, and the possibility that God had forgotten about me were all a direct reliance on my feelings. I was in my feelings, y’all!!!
Men like trees: So God began working on me, I mean really hemming me up. With that my thinking started to transform a bit. I went from thinking my best option was death (because surely I wasn’t living) to believing that maybe I would have a chance to live but not abundantly. I only prayed for just enough to survive. Enough money to pay bills, enough love to at least love myself, and enough to time to finish what was at the top of the priority list. I didn’t pray for anything to spare…no overflow.
Seeing clearly: So once again, God worked on my heart until I believed that I could trust him with bigger requests. Eventually I began asking God to allow me to see my life and future as he sees it and not as I perceive it.
Just like the man in the scripture, things weren’t perfect the first time Jesus touched my life, but he loved so much that he didn’t mind touching me again. (Whew! Thanks for being my friend, Jesus! *insert tears*)
Maybe you can find yourself in either this text or in my [very long] narrative. You could be completely blind to some of the better things in your life for only seeing the bad. Quite possibly you can see but not as clearly because your perception is off. I told you life has a way of making things a bit uncertain or unclear, but don’t be fooled by what you see. Maybe you have your compensating dysfunction has become your norm and, like me, you may not even think that your vision is that off. I reckoned that unclear vision was better than no vision. Though that may be valid, clear vision not only brings an appreciation for all that you couldn’t see, it eradicates some of the mistakes that occur when one has to rely mostly on feelings. If I look out of the window I see a flower growing from the ground. If I take my glasses off, it kinda looks like a flower but it isn’t so defined. That flower didn’t stop being a flower just because I can’t see it clearly. Just the same, the promise that God has for you, the man or woman that he has called you to be, and the plans that he has designed specifically for your life don’t cease to be because you can’t see it. Today I challenge you to allow God to touch you as many times as you need to be touched until you’re no longer settled for what it looks like and you embrace what it is.
The word of the Lord given through JoJo: God is going to let you see it clearly this year. You won’t have to rely on (be governed by) your feelings.
I’m sorry this thought was so lengthy. I’m sorry if I was all over the place.
I hope this helps.