I read today about a legend of a girl who had a hump on her back. As the story goes, because of this apparent deformity, she was ridiculed, pitied and picked-on. However, when she died it was discovered the hump hid her angel’s wings.
In an age of platitudes, pithy remarks, and pride, we remain fallen and false in our approach to dealing pain and difficulties. We are thankful when they don’t impact us but are quick to discern what others ought to do in response to their struggles. Walking in other people’s shoes is, well, uncomfortable.
Over a year has gone by since ischemic optic neuropathy damaged the vision in my right eye. It wasn’t so troubling because my left eye was doing just fine. It was easy to be humorous as I got to wear an eye patch, my driving ability was still fine and it was easy to change the safety on my shotgun from right to left handed. I could still do all the things I loved. Over a year later, everything was fine…until the same condition damaged my left eye.
Just like that I began to live in a new world. Between sight and blindness, I discovered a new term: low vision. While not legally blind, yet, I have found myself both able and disabled. I keep finding others like me, some hiding it, others living with it, overcoming day by day. For me, my emotions and spirit and mind fluctuate day by day as I adapt to my condition and the impact on my life. I pray and hope that in the end, I too will find this deformity to be “angel’s wings.”
Crowds of people, something I previously enjoyed being a part of, now cause me to be wary for fear of running into people or tripping. I find myself bumping into doorways and desks as I have lost peripheral vision. To shake someone’s hand, I have to intentionally look down to be sure. I don’t see faces across the room. I sometimes don’t recognize faces right beside me. Reading, something that was a joy before, is now a chore requiring real effort and work to focus and even then, I can only do it for short periods of time. I have to magnify screens and text on my computer and phone. While legally I can still drive, I no longer can drive wherever and whenever – night and rain are especially difficult.
In a way, I see with new eyes. I “see” what others with disabilities face. I experience barriers where I used to have freedom. While some have pointed out that those with disabilities don’t define themselves by that disability, it isn’t always so. It is also shortsighted to make such statements while one is still grieving and adapting to their loss of abilities. Having read the blogs and articles of others who have gone through similar situations, I realize my experiences are shared by others. I need those words.
I haven’t come to grips with this yet. Knowing the cycle of grief, I’m certain there are difficulty days ahead. I know that I will find barriers which can be overcome and some I may not be able to conquer, certainly not on my own. What I do know is the power of grace to transform but even transformation can be painful; it is quite often, difficult. But as Norman Shawchuck states so well, “This is the glorious promise of conversion: God is able to make all things work together for good. What we cannot redeem, God can…”