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:
Amen, Lord Jesus!
- 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