20/20 Vision: Eye Therapy

When my youngest didn’t learn to read by the end of K5 I thought, Well boys sometimes need more time to mature. He’ll get it next year. When he still wasn’t reading by the in 2nd grade I realized there was an issue. After many discussions with friends, questions to professionals, and worried conversations with my husband, we ended up at a vision therapist’s office. (I hadn’t even known there was such a thing.)

A lengthy questionnaire plus an examination by the doctor led to a diagnosis that very afternoon – my son had limited peripheral vision and his eyes were not tracking together. Scary information for a mama. Had it not been for the kindness of the office staff, I very likely would’ve ended up in a puddle of tears. But our sweet doctor and her staff assured me that this was not an uncommon diagnosis, and that a few months of vision therapy would have him seeing as normal.

We went twice weekly for in-office therapy for over a year. We did exercises at home as well using the Brock string and other apparatus and visual exercises. Within weeks his reading began to improve and in just over a year he had finished therapy and learned to read! Success!

As I reflect back on this experience and the lessons learned, there are clearly similar lessons we can learn in the spiritual realm.

  • Living in community with other believers is important. It has been said “we b don’t know what we don’t know in life.” A godly friend, teacher, or mentor can often point out to us an area where they see that something is wrong. Physical eyesight can have problems and a person may not realize it because it seems normal to them, just as my son never realized his vision was limited. But when it affected his reading, I noticed that something wasn’t normal.
  • Some issues in our Christian walk will take months of work to correct them. Correcting bad habits takes training, scripture memorization, and prayer. A battle with an eating disorder, pornography, or substance abuse (among other things) may take months or years of prayer, spiritual guidance, and professional therapy to overcome. That time may seem long and challenging, but think of the lessons to be learned and the faith in God that will be developed. My son’s vision therapy seemed interminable as we were walking through it day by day, but looking back on it 15+ years later, it is just a small blip in the rearview mirror, and worth every moment of getting help.
  • Tools are necessary to spiritual growth; our main tool is God’s Word itself. Just as my son needed the Brock string and other instruments to develop correct visual perception, we need certain tools as well. God’s Word is the Swiss Army knife of tools (you know, the knives that have every tool you’ll ever need folded up into one pocket-sized utensil). Paul reminded Timothy of this when he said, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17 NASB)

We want to see the world clearly through Our Father’s eyes. We want our view of the world to be unclouded. We want to be able to understand the world accurately in these strange times so that we are not thrown off track by every whim of society or every bit of advice that proclaims itself to be true and for our best. God’s Word is the source of all truth. To have 20/20 spiritual vision we must soak ourselves in His Word, seek out Christian community to help us see clearly, and not grow weary doing good, but patiently allow God to work His change in us by living obedient and faith-filled lives.

Christ and the Corrective Lenses

My friend MJ lay next to me snoring lightly, the big drops of rain falling from the tree tops that were adjacent to our “treehouse” retreat accommodations sounded like something entirely different from than the peaceful pitter and tinkling I was used to. I surmised it was my, until now, not-so-close proximity to the roofline. Despite the sleep promoting environment, I was awake. Wide awake. I figured if I was going to be awake I should go ahead and be a little productive and be about my favorite early morning activity, studying the King’s Word. The open blinds let in just enough light for me to see outlines and large objects. In order to not wake my friend MJ I would have to rely on my dimly lit phone.

I reached for the little yellow case holding my contacts.

Fact: Minus corrective lenses I can see nothing clearly.

Fact: I wear my glasses while I sleep so that when I awaken I know where I am. Too many close calls have yielded such a strange practice.

Fact: I now require readers to see small print so I have to put in my contact lenses and then don said readers. Double Corrective Lenses. Bifocals are the next step but I am just not ready to surrender to that one.

blur-blurry-bokeh-347139.jpgMy relationship with corrective lenses began some 32 years ago. I was 8. I had no idea people had faces, trees had actual leaves, or billboards were sources of information. I was in the 4th grade. I had the standard old school eye exam. When asked what the first letter on the chart was I answered honestly, “What chart?” Needless to say my mama got the note that a follow-up eye exam was required.

The day she took me, was like any other. I rode in a car with faceless but familiar people,
I entered a large foreboding yet vague structure and sat in a chair. My information supplied by my other senses, the smell of potatoes chips, candy, and cleaners mingled together. It smelled like the place I got shots, the pediatrician’s office; it didn’t sound that way though, there were no crying and coughing babies. The chair felt different, they were grown up chairs and the pediatrician’s office had my size chairs.

As per my usual I began to ask questions. Where were we? What were we doing here? Would it hurt? How long would we be here?

I have always been a question asker, it is my primary source of information and learning. Sometimes my questions intimidate people; sometimes they think I am criticizing them and their way of doing things. In my adult life I have learned this and have altered how I communicate in just such a situation. I ask the King questions daily. I used to be almost ashamed of that, like I didn’t trust God when I questioned. I understand now that is simply how I learn, and because He loves me, He welcomes my questions. He often answers me back with questions.

*****

“Lord, I’m struggling. I feel overwhelmed and unsure. Why Lord?”

“What is your name?”

That is The question He asks me most. Just last night I was talking with Him and he whispered over and over,

“Don’t you remember?” “What is your name?”

My answers always initiate a pondering that answers my questions. I digress… again.

*****

As I completed my eye exam, I cautiously answered questions and waded carefully into a sea of unknowns that this day had brought to me. When the eye doctor placed the cold metal Phoropter (I did not know its actual name – the Google helped me with that answer when I asked that question) over my face, the cold sensation of the metal and ability to see simultaneously cemented in my memory. I still remember that feeling of joy and elation.

I. Could. Finally. See. The. Chart.

adorable-beautiful-black-and-white-325687.jpgI rattled off those letters like an expert. I knew them and I boldly proclaimed their names to the eye doctor. It wasn’t until he moved the miraculous Phoropter that I was deflated. How could it be? My joy instantly turned to sorrow. He escorted me to my mom, spoke to her briefly and she walked me over to another mysterious section. She told me to pick out some glasses frames I liked. One needs to see one’s image in the mirror clearly to determine if one likes one’s glasses. Needless to say my first pair of corrective lenses were less than attractive. Despite their appearance they were life changers. I’ve come to realize that is often the truth of life. It is oftentimes the seemingly small moments, seemingly insignificant things that are life changers.

I could see. An entire new world opened up to me. My senses worked in tandem to give me information and reveal the world around me. My mama says I read every sign from here to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and if she had to hear “Bates House of Turkey” one more time she was going to scream. (I should probably bring to her attention the fact that at least I don’t do that now – where every other signs boasts a difficult to pronounce name of an attorney. She really would scream before we got to the Tank Farm heading southbound on 65.)

When we come to know the King, to have a relationship with Him, it completely changes our perspective of the world. Like putting on corrective lenses for the first time. In the Book of John, Chapter 9 there was a blind man whom Jesus made to see. He was born blind and upon meeting Christ he was healed and made to see. This caused a great debate among the ones who needed rationalization of the process. The man’s response is a classic. It is recorded in verse 25.

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25

One Thing I DO know is I was blind, but now I see. Simple isn’t it? The gospel itself is simple. With Jesus our entire perspective changes and in areas where we once were blind, with Jesus as the Change Agent, we now can see as well as a fourth grader with her first pair of glasses seeing her Mama’s face clearly for the first time in her life.

macro-outdoors-perspective-268953.jpg