• Beth Hildebrand

My Vision. Literally. | Wait and See Day 3


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I’m ready now.

I thought I was last year but it didn’t feel right.  So I waited.  I didn’t post it.  I tucked it in a folder that was hidden under piles of other papers.  I had no idea what the next 9 months would hold but I knew I had to wait.

You see, the past several months have un-expectantly been an eye-opener for me.  I recently have a new vision and…well…before I go any farther, I need to turn back the pages and go back to the beginning.

It was March 3, 1993.

I uncomfortably lie on a silvery-shiny, hard and cold surgery board covered by the dense weight of white, cotton blankets.  I heard the squeaky sound from the wheels carrying me down the sterile hall. My eyes were closed as I whispered, “Be strong and courageous” over and over, not knowing what I’d see when I opened them again.

For 8 hours that day, my head was cut and peeled open.  As the doctors worked tediously and precisely de-tangling the capillaries in my brain to stop my blood from clotting, a small nerve was unintentionally clipped that caused me to see a lot blackness when I later opened my eyes.  A black void.  Half of my vision was gone.

My world was spinning.  Literally.  I had terrible vertigo and it took me another day or so to realize the reason I had it was because I had lost a significant part of my sight.  I was trying to find balance. I grappled with loss while wondering, hoping and praying, if it would come back.

I was very thankful for recovering as well as I did, considering how the doctor told me I had a 50/50 chance of even making it through surgery.  Now 21 years later, I’ve had no more seizures that could have caused a serious aneurism, which was the goal of the surgery.  Some other life-time challenges arose from it though and I’ve had to adjust to them and live with them…losing part of my vision being one of them.

Days passed and then months. I had to adapt to this void I had never experienced.  My eyes had to work extra hard. I had to look to the right more. Several months later, after several doctor appointments at the optometrist, I was told a small fraction of vision thankfully did return, but it was all that would ever come back. To regain vision after a surgery like that, it would happen the first few months afterwards.  I lost two-thirds of my right, peripheral vision.


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So, I’ve battled with this lack of sight ever since.

Looking back, the 20 years before my surgery, I was living with a similar lack of vision.  My second home the first 18 years of my life was the church on the corner, on a hill, in a suburb of a capital city.  As my mom practiced the organ at church a few days a week, my sister and I played hide and seek in the pews.  The staircase on the way to the choir room was where I had my first kiss.  Sunday evening was youth group that I never missed and each summer for a hot and humid week, we’d go on a local mission trip to repair homes for the needy.

Even though I was raised in a church, did I really see Jesus in my life?  If I did, I didn’t realize it.

Until February 4, 1993 – the day I found out I had to have brain surgery.  After that night, I saw life a new way.  It looked different because I was looking from the foot of the cross with a new set of eyes.  While sitting in the musty carpeted, dimly lit meeting room on the second floor of the college student center, 10 students at that FCA meeting put their hands on me and prayed over and for me.  The film that made it hard for me to see God’s Light during my youth was now covered by God’s grace so I could clearly see His love for me.

And the feeling.  Oh the feeling.  It was a feeling of peace like I had never felt.  It was a new felt experience of joy deep I had never dreamed of.  During the 27 days of waiting until my surgery, God put people in my life – friends near and far and ones I had never met before, that gave me Scripture to encourage me and teach me and it became real to me. I began writing.  Prayer had an entire new meaning.  I was fresh and alive, had a faithful vision with new hope woven in with confident peace.  I went into that surgery room knowing the Lord was with me.

Now fast forward 20 years:  My lack of vision has become part of me.

Yet this question reappears every so often: What good was I supposed to gain from losing my vision? All it seems to do is worry my husband all the time. I miss having something beautiful suddenly “catch my eye” through the window beside me riding down the road.  Whenever I go to the movies, a church service, or a meeting I need to sit to the right side of the room so I can see as much as possible to the left.

I’m aware of it every day, yet at the same time I’m not. It’s just become my norm.

It’s become my norm to not have complete vision.

It’s become my norm to be partially blind, and I’m now seeing that I’ve allowed it to become my norm to be partially blind to the vision God sees in me. There have been days where doubt, worry, fear and self-pity reappear and put a dark veil over my eyes again, making the beauty of God’s vision of me difficult to see.

Gosh darn!  It’s still been a challenge for 20 years to try to gain sight of the way God sees me.  There have been days when it’s been so easy to lose the vision of my role in God’s Story.

Almost a year ago, God started showing me how to see things differently.  On a brisk, autumn morning walk, the cool air that blew over my face opened my eyes to see the tips of leaves start to become displays of art on neighborhood trees.  When I got home, I sat on the sofa in my favorite room, welcoming the sun to stretch in wide, and opened my Bible to read Luke 18:35-43. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that and thought, “Oh, that’s another moment of Jesus’ life on this earth – a good story.”

Well, here’s the real-life story…

“He came to the outskirts of Jericho. A blind man was sitting beside the road asking for handouts. When he heard the rustle of the crowd, he asked what was going on. They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is going by.”

He called, “Jesus, Son of David. Mercy, have mercy on me!”

Those ahead of Jesus told the man to be quiet, but he only yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and asked him to be brought over. When he came near, Jesus asked, “What do you want from me?”

The blind man said, “Master, I want to see again.”

Oh, how I want to see again, too.

Jesus said, “Go ahead—see again! Your faith has saved and healed you!”  The healing was instant: He looked up, seeing—and then followed Jesus, glorifying God. Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.”

Why had it never dawned on me that way?!  I’m that blind man and have never realized it before.  I call out to God the same things the blind man called out to Jesus. Some days I quietly say, with a whisper of hope, “Master, I want to see again”, and other days I want to yell to God, “Mercy! Please have mercy on me!  Why did it have to be taken from me? Why haven’t You given it back to me?  I want to be normal and see like I did before my surgery! ”

Then after reading that, I felt Jesus look at me and say, “I don’t want you to be normal and see things the way the world does.”  If you can have faith like that blind man and like you did when you first fell in love with Me 27 days before your surgery 21 years ago, you’ll see things in a beautiful, new way. I want you to focus on the things you cannot see.

Look beyond the outside appearances you can see.   Reach to the unseen where there are broken hearts, longing peace, and yearning souls.

“You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away. Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on.”     2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Maybe God wants me to be partially blind so I won’t forget how He saved my life. Oh, how easily I can lose my God-given vision when I only look just to the left and don’t keep my eyes focused on Him.

I understand I won’t see God’s complete vision the way He sees things until the day I see Jesus face to face.  But I can now see that He puts specific visions, dreams in our hearts and callings in our lives so we can see the miraculous ways God works in people’s lives.

This past year, I’ve gained a new vision.  Honestly, if it took losing my vision to find Jesus, it was more than worth it.  He’s given me new sight that can never be taken away from me.


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