By Sherye S. Green
On a bright September day my life changed forever. Even now, I don’t know exactly what happened. One day everything was fine, and the next it was if someone had flipped a switch. What began as a seemingly routine eye infection morphed into a chronic eye condition. Wonderful ophthalmologists—Dr. Terrel Williams and Dr. John Milam—provided excellent care and moral support during this very frustrating season. How grateful I am to them both.
I’ve worn glasses as long as I can remember. Contacts—thick, hard plastic discs the color of emerald green glass—came at age eleven. For over forty years I’ve had an image of myself, at least how I thought other people saw me, and it didn’t include a pair of glasses perched across the bridge of my nose.
Upon diagnosis of Dry Eye Syndrome in February 2011, Dr. Milam asked that I comply with a specific regimen for two weeks, and then return to his office for a follow-up eye exam. Five steps were to be followed every day during this period, including treatment with ophthalmic drops, the application of hot compresses on the eyes, and the use several times a day of preservative-free tears. As Dr. Milam explained each of the five steps, he took a lengthy pause before pronouncing the last one.
My overactive imagination had already taken flight. I jumped into the conversation, asking him a question I’m not sure I really wanted an answer to. “Am I about to lose my eyesight?” Dr. Milam, who had been looking over my chart, now looked over at me in amazement and said warmly with a broad smile, “No, Mrs. Green. There’s no danger of losing your eyesight. You only need to refrain from using eye makeup for the next two weeks.”
Relief flooded my heart like cool rain on parched ground. I wanted to leap out of that exam chair like a Roman candle. “Is that all?” I asked. Makeup, schmakeup. Who needs makeup when you can see!
That conversation, funny as it is now, was incredibly frightening to me at the time. The fact that I still have my eyesight, no matter how dry, red, or irritated my eyes may get, is something for which I’m immensely thankful. I’m learning to adjust to a “new normal” in my life.
Now almost five years down this road of living with dry eyes, I’ve come to grips with the fact that my eyes will never be the same, that dry eye is a condition I will and can live with, that on most days I’ll wear glasses and not contacts, and that I will not let my self-image be defined by my outward appearance. What has enabled me to reach these conclusions? One simple word. Perspective.
The online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perspective as “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.” In this middle season of my life, I’ve discovered if I’m not careful, my perspective on any given issue can become stodgy, even jaded at times. As a daughter of the King, I have a responsibility to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
Ephesians is a favorite New Testament book. Written by the Apostle Paul, this letter reminds fellow Christians that we not only have physical eyes, but spiritual ones as well. Paul calls them “the eyes of your heart.” The Message version of Ephesians 1:18 shares Paul’s poetic prayer for believers, “I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do…”
Just as my eyes get dry and cloudy, so do the eyes of my heart. Perspective, the kind that only God Himself can bring, is like Windex to my soul. This heavenly cleaner strips away the grime of complacency. Perspective wipes off the soot of negativity. It polishes and shines the panes of the windows of my soul so that I can view life as God would have me see it, that I can appreciate His purpose in all things, and that I will focus on sharing His love and grace with others.
Godly perspective means the difference between viewing my glass as half empty or half full, the appointments on my social calendar as obligations or opportunities, my dry eye condition as a curse or a blessing. Challenges of this life when perceived through the lens of perspective can make me bitter or better. Wherever you are on your walk of faith with the Lord, remember that God wants us as His children to be able to “grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers.”
A brand new year is before us—365 blank canvases upon which God wants to use our lives to paint a picture of His love for this tired world. Let Jehovah Rapha, the Great Physician, perform His own miracle in your life. Allow Him to Windex the windows of your soul.