Saturday, March 19, 2011

A New Point of View

Deciding to blog for Chosen Families has been a bit like purchasing a new set of eyeglasses. Within five minutes of leaving the optometrist’s office, I am motion-sick. It’s like when we traded our analog television for high definition: everything I see is crisper, clearer, and seems to move faster. It makes me nauseous at first.

Did you know that although our eyes see individual images, they work as a team? Each eye takes in an image and transmits that image to the brain. Each image differs slightly from the other because each image is viewed from a slightly different angle. The brain then translates these images into meaning, interpreting the separate signals from each eye as two views of the same object. Each side of the brain receives messages from both eyes, and the brain learns to judge how far away an object is by the differences in the images it receives from the two eyes. That’s called depth perception.
When Cami was younger, she had a condition called strabismus. This medical term simply means she had 20/20 vision in each eye—but her eyes didn’t work together. They moved independently of each other, sending confusing signals to her brain. She didn’t have any depth perception. The eye surgeon actually detached the muscles that control her eye movement on both eyes, and reattached those muscles so that her eyeballs will only point straight ahead. Now she can't cross her eyes even if she wants to.
Before her eye surgery, I watched my child walk into trees, step off into midair from playground structure steps, and struggle to catch a ball thrown to her. After her eye surgery, it took about a year before her brain adjusted to the new way her eyes worked. She can now tell where the ground is. She can catch a ball. She can climb a ladder without freaking out. As long as she wears her glasses, each of her eyes and her brain all work together to give her depth perception.
God’s giving my heart new eyeglasses. In church this past week, He so very gently brought me face-to-face with myself and my deeply rooted fear/prejudice/discomfort towards “special needs” children. My pastor preached about the crucibles God allows in our lives, and how, if given a choice, none of us would ever choose to walk a difficult, uncomfortable path in life. Yet when we look back, we can see God’s good that comes out of the hard things we live through.
Before Cami was born, I prayed, “Lord, please let her be healthy and perfect. Please don’t give me a special-needs child. I won’t be a good mom for her because I can’t handle being around kids with special needs.” I can look back through my journals and trace my angst over Cami’s hidden disabilities. My husband and I grew so frustrated with not being able to help her fit in anywhere, even as a toddler and preschooler.
God cupped my face in His Hands when my pastor began to share what it is like to be the father of a child with special needs. He told story after story of his son’s struggles, of smashed lunch pails and neighborhood children throwing rocks, of trying to find a niche of study in college, of wondering who will care for his son when he and his wife aren’t around anymore. I was riveted to my chair, holding my breath because I just knew God had a word for me. Just two days before, I scribbled in my Beth Moore Breaking Free workbook, “Oh, Lord, give me Your Word about Cami’s hidden disabilities and my role in helping her cope/thrive….”
The pastor referenced John 9:2-3 as a passage that illustrates the wonder of God’s sovereignty:
[Jesus’] disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (NIV)
The pastor shared his interpretation of the passage and moved on. It took me a minute, but then I got it. I heard the part that was for me.
Cami is not the kind of child I wanted or expected. Instead, she is exactly the kind of child I need. For ten years now, I’ve asked God silently, “Why did you make Cami this way? Why did You make her so she would struggle so much in life? Why did You make her defective, so conspicuous, so different? How do we make her better?”
Now I see: it isn’t about what’s wrong with my daughter. It’s about what’s right with her, how God has gifted her. She isn’t defective; she is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God created Cami in order to display His works through her. Her hidden disabilities are a vehicle through which God shows Himself mighty and strong, tender and gentle, practical and glorious (John 9:3).
I am privileged and blessed to be her mommy.
As I wear my new eyeglasses, the nausea subsides. My brain catches up with the clarity my eyes are transmitting. I don't high-step, or miss any curbs, or fall down any stairs.

I actually see a lot better now.

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