it was not too long after my 40th birthday when i noticed the change. "you've got to be kidding me," i thought. it was too textbook, too classic, too cliche -- and it was only the beginning. i wasn't able to deny it: medicine bottles, menus, newsprint, and my nightly novel were all becoming harder and harder to read. either the font had miraculously shrunk (on everything) or my eyes were going bad.
"going bad" is a relative term. i've had bad eyes pretty much my entire life. i was dubbed nearsighted and started wearing glasses at the extra-confident age of 12 -- a lovely experience for any fragile young female. i think i got glasses, acne and a bad perm all in the same month. my first pair of glasses was nothing special. i tolerated the boring gold wire rims, but it was the case they came in which pleased me the most. it was bright blue and pictured a young girl. underneath this girl (wearing glasses, of course) it read, "please be patient, God isn't finished with me yet." i loved that. when you're 12 and sporting both glasses and acne, it just helps to know things will get better, you will improve. there is hope! i can remember climbing in bed at night and tucking my glasses into that blue case on my nightstand. i didn't need to store them quite so securely over night, but i liked reminding myself of that little promise. "God isn't finished." and He wasn't.
somehow i was able to convince my parents i would be headed for a deep depression and costly counseling if they didn't allow me to swap out my glasses for contact lenses. and somehow they made that happen. between the dermatologist appointments and the contacts, i probably cost my parents some good money that year. but they made the sacrifice and kindly helped salvage the delicate remains of my almost-teen self.
i've been wearing contacts for about 30 years now. that means every morning sticking little round plasticky pieces onto my eyeballs. one of my boys told me a few years back, "you look smart in your glasses, mommy." i kind of liked that comment and occasionally i wear my glasses with high hopes. most of my life i've been nearsighted and only just recently have found myself not even that. it seems, i am no-sighted. i can't see far and i can't see up close. this leaves me virtually blind. to be honest, this leaves me a little depressed, not to mention a little dangerous. i suppose it is time to face the facts. i suppose it is time to make an eye appointment. i suppose it is time for bi-focals. (cringe).
i am not sure what happened to that blue case with those encouraging words. it stayed with me for a long time afterward. i remember finding the case years later when i was home from college and cleaning out a drawer one summer. i remember thinking back to that young girl -- that insecure 12 year old who didn't exactly like what she saw in the mirror every morning. as a college woman things had changed. my skin had cleared...and so had my eyes. i still needed my glasses or contacts, but i had a new perspective by the end of the teen years. i was seeing things a little differently. sure some of it had to do with growing out of that awful, awkward pre-adolescent stage, but it had more to do with the growth taking place on the inside. my relationship with God was deepening and it was changing how i looked at things. nearsighted or farsighted, i was learning to keep my eyes on Jesus.
that wasn't always easy. throughout the high school and college years i wanted to look only at myself, my wants, my desires, my comforts. there was so much to distract me - good stuff and, of course, there was some bad. i was pretty enamored with the world and its ways - so often tempted and just wanting to taste. but God was at work in me. He wasn't letting me go and He obviously wasn't finished with me. and the closer i walked in my relationship with Him, the better my eyes became. i began to see my own sin more clearly. it was ugly and awful. but i also began to see more clearly God's love for me--regardless of ugly sin. i was developing eyes to see His forgiveness and his grace. one of my very favorite songs has always been "turn your eyes upon Jesus." i remember singing it as a small girl in our small church and over the years of motherhood, i have sung it as a lullaby to my own children.
turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in his wonderful face,
and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.and now in my forties, i am a lot like that 12 year old girl again. the eyes have reached a new level of "bad," i've traded the acne for some wrinkles, and, i can assure you, the things of this earth are most definitely growing stranger and dimmer each day. but this is where i have to remind myself that my earthly eyes are only temporary -- they aren't meant to last for forever. these eyes and this body will both fade and fail someday. that's just the way it goes. but the eyes of my heart can continue to improve when i "look full in His wonderful face." there's hope! and even though i am over forty, God is still hard at work -- He isn't finished with me yet!
"open my eyes that i may see
wonderful things.." ~ psalm 119:18