Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Seeing Things Clearly

I had LASIK eye surgery a couple weeks ago. My mother gifted it to me on my 30th birthday, but since I was a brand new mother (my youngest was only a week old at that time!) I wanted to wait until I didn't have a tiny being completely dependent upon me for sustenance before I went through the surgery. Two years went by, and my mom finally got on my case to get the surgery done, even offering to come stay with me for a week and help me out as I convalesced. (Not that it takes a week, but hey, if she's making the trip she may as well stick around and spend some quality time with the kids.)
Before I scheduled the surgery, I read up on the procedure and the center where I was having it done. I felt very confident in my doctor and his skills (he's probably the best LASIK surgeon in Colorado and has even developed a laser of his own design.) Everyone I spoke with was both kind and knowledgeable, allaying any concerns I had about the procedure itself or my suitability for it.

That didn't stop me from having nightmares as the surgery loomed, or lying awake with vague fears of losing my sight all together and never seeing my daughter in her prom dress, developing an infection that might cause me to lose an eye, or some other equally rare and unlikely disaster.

I turned to my husband for support one night, as we were getting ready for bed, asking him how he felt about my upcoming surgery.
He admitted that he was nervous about the procedure and had some trepidation about how it would all turn out. I was like...ummmm...are you not aware you are supposed to be a rock upon which I can build a fortress of emotional security? You are not allowed to feel nervousness about this!

Which brought me to the realization I should have had from the start: I need to rely on God alone. My husband, amazing man though he is, cannot save me from fears or suffering. Only God can turn my tears into dancing.

That night I had a dream where I died. It's the way of dreams that you don't know at the time that things aren't real. Everything feels real, feels as though it's truly happening. When my group discovered that the Enterprise wasn't going to rescue us and the planet we were on was about to explode, I truly in that moment felt the overpowering panic that I would have in any situation where there was no escape. (Yes, yes, I know. Star Trek dreams belie a deep and abiding nerdiness that can't be disguised. Anyway.) I clearly remember standing there, watching the sky-high ball of flame rushing toward me and knowing it was beyond impossible to survive what was coming. So I didn't bother with fear. I just accepted it and turned my thoughts to Jesus. The flames rushed in and bright light blinded me. I reached out my arms, smiling, peace enfolding me, and looked for my Savior.

I opened my eyes to darkness and crushing disappointment. I wasn't dead, after all. I was just dreaming.

Turns out, the surgery wasn't easy for me at all. I prayed the Hail Mary over and over to get through it, and spent three times as long in recovery as everyone else that day. But it all turned out well: my vision is 20/18 and my eyes are healing nicely. I didn't even really think about the dream while I was on the table or in recovery, but I've put the two together since then. What I struggle with most in this life is trust. Trust in God, in others, in myself, too. The dream was showing me that whenever I am faced with a problem, while the outcome may not be what I wanted, if I turn to God I will find happiness in it.

I've been pondering how this relates to my attempts to discern God's will for my life. In a profound way, it brings me comfort. The details of my future aren't important. What's important is that I turn to God and make Him the center of anything I do. Most importantly, though, it reminds me that things are not all up to me. I didn't want to be blind any more than I wanted to be on an exploding planet, but either way, it's God alone in whom I should place my trust. No one else has the power to save me.

When I think about the dream now, I don't feel any of the lingering fear a nightmare usually evokes. What I most remember is the joy and expectation I felt peering through the white light trying to see God. John writes of heaven:
Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever. --Revelation 22:3-5
Amen, Lord Jesus!

Picture credit.


Anonymous said...

Would you mind posting about two forthcoming Masses in Ireland for the Holy Year of Priests?

And if you could link to our blog/put us on your blogroll too that would be fantastic.

God bless you!

St. Conleth's CHA

Anna said...

That was a beautiful reflection, Tienne! You are totally right that the details of the future don't matter. That anxiety about making sure the future was *just right* was something that has been difficult for me to let go of. (And, to be sure, I'm still working on it.) But it makes such a big difference when I let go and let God be in charge.

Jessica said...

"The details of my future aren't important. What's important is that I turn to God and make Him the center of anything I do." <-- I think this is very true. It reminds me of an interview I heard with Dallas Willard yesterday, where he pointed out that the gospel is that we can turn to God, and ask, and He will allow us to work alongside him, starting now, in our daily work, and what we do will be a part of His kingdom. That "thy kingdom come" is not just a prayer for the future, but for the present.