I knew when he first stepped into the room that my new eye doctor looked young enough to be my son. I, also knew that I shouldn’t have been old enough to be diagnosed with cataracts only three weeks after my 50th birthday. Surely his youthful lips had misspoken. Alas, that was wishful thinking. The diagnosis was confirmed by a specialist and three months later I found myself under the scalpel.
Before and after cataract surgery
I was terrified at the thought of having cataract surgery. However, after much research on the frequency and safety record of the procedure, I realized that my fears were founded not in statistical probabilities, but rather in personal fears. I’ve had extremely poor vision since early childhood, and for 35 years I’d worn glasses, then contacts, and then glasses over contacts in recent years. My eyes have always been my Achilles heel, the one painful thing that always reminded me of how cruel kids can be. As if the embarrassment wasn’t enough, I’ve always had a secret fear of going blind. Knowing that one minuscule miscalculation on the part of my surgeon could cost me what little sight I had left was terrifying.
I’m truly thankful to report that the surgery (in both eyes), was a resounding success. I now have 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/30 in the other, which means I can drive, swim, watch TV, and cook without glasses or contacts. I still have to wear readers when I read or use the computer, but that’s a small price to pay for the freedom I’ve gained in return.
Lessons learned from cataract surgery
As wonderful as my new physical vision is, I must say that cataract surgery has given me so much more in a spiritual sense. Just as my surgeon has given me new lenses through which to see the world, this experience has opened my spiritual eyes to things that God has been trying to show me for quite some time.
Don’t miss the forest because of the trees.To say that I spent most of my life focused on what was right in front of my face would be an understatement. It’s all I could see clearly. Only now am I beginning to realize how much I missed because of that limited and spiritually short-sighted point of view. Even with perfect eyesight, it’s easy to get so hung up on our daily dramas that we miss the bigger picture. Nothing happens by accident and life is a continuum of intricately intertwining events. What seems like a challenge today will more than likely be viewed as an opportunity for growth when considered later in the context of the tapestry that God is weaving for our lives.
Seeing something doesn’t necessarily make it so My first startling post-surgery discovery was learning after three years of living in my apartment was that my ivory-colored walls are actually white. One of the difficulties in self-detecting the presence of cataracts is that they are often very slow to develop. As a result, subtle changes in vision are often difficult to perceive. I would have sworn in a court of law that my walls were ivory, because that’s what I saw. But it wasn’t an accurate depiction of reality. The same is true about the assumptions, judgments, prejudices and preconceived notions that we have – about others, about God, about our circumstances, about ourselves. It’s important to remember that while we view everything through our own unique set of lenses, God doesn’t wear glasses.
Life is full of subtleties that make it so much more interesting.Before surgery, the driveway was just a slab of asphalt, a tree-lined street was just a mass of green, a piece of clothing was just colored fabric. With my new eyes I see variations in color and texture, a richness and a depth to things that I never saw before. It has been amazing to drive through the country and notice the different types of foliage, to see colors that I never noticed before. Everything seems to “pop” now. My challenge is to extend that same type of vision to all of my life – refusing to take things, people, or situations for granted. Everything, and I do mean everything, is so much more complex, and more interesting, than it first appears. God is an amazing Creator.
Just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.There were so many things in everyday life that I didn’t notice – simply because I couldn’t see them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there. It’s like faith. Just because I go through periods when I can’t see God working in my life, it doesn’t mean He isn’t. Even though circumstances sometimes seem insurmountable and relationships irreconcilable, that doesn’t mean that they are. I can rarely see the big picture, but God always can.
We don’t have to wait for something as dramatic as cataract surgery to alter the way we view ourselves, other people, and the world around us. Start viewing the world through God’s eyes, not your own. You’ll be surprised at the beauty you see.