June 8, 2014

Not By Sight

my uncorrected vision
An image I made for Steven a while back, in an attempt to demonstrate my uncorrected vision.

I was prescribed my first pair of glasses at the ripe age of nine. They were the thick kind that made my eyeballs appear incongruously tiny, even in comparison with my young face.

A year later, when I was ten, the optometrist prescribed hard contact lenses. He said they might help slow the rapid worsening of my nearsightedness. (He also told me not to read so much. Maybe if I’d listened to him back then, I wouldn’t have to rely so much on audiobooks now.)

I’ve been wearing increasingly stronger prescriptions of hard contact lenses for 17 years now. The deterioration of my vision has slowed, but not stopped. I barely spend a waking minute of my life without those lenses in my eyes.

Occasionally, when I’m lying in bed and have already removed the lenses for the night, my husband stands in the doorway of our bedroom and asks me to describe how I see him. I find it hard to verbally paint that picture for a guy with 20/20 vision, but I try.

“You look like fuzzy splotches of color—flesh in places, brown where your hair is, and the white of your t-shirt,” I say. “I know you’re a human being, but if I didn’t already know you were you, I wouldn’t be able to tell who you are.”

It’s true. If I were operating on sight alone, I wouldn’t be able to identify my husband as he stood ten feet away. Every time we go through this mundane bit of banter, that realization frightens me a little. The fact that I can’t tell for sure that the man in my bedroom is indeed the man I’m married to—it makes me feel uncomfortably vulnerable and dependent. As far as I’d know, he could be any man or woman with the right combination of coloring. He could be an intruder.

But when I’m lying in bed and someone unidentifiable by sight walks into the bedroom, I don’t respond to them as I would to an intruder. I don’t flinch when Fuzzy Steven comes near and leans down to give me a goodnight kiss. I don’t reach for the baseball bat if he pulls back the covers to lie next to me. I trust that instead of being a hooligan, this ambiguous being moving around my bedroom is actually someone trustworthy, someone with only good intentions.

Faith is like that. To live by faith and not by sight would mean that even though I can’t clearly see the hand orchestrating life’s events, I trust that hand belongs to Someone who has my good in mind. It would mean that in those unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming, I don’t panic because I know that He sees from the beginning to the end. It would mean that when my dull earthly senses indicate that everything is against me, I keep trusting that God is for me.

John MacArthur, explaining Hebrews 11:1, says that faith is “living in a hope that is so real it gives substance to the hope.” Faith isn’t a flimsy wish; it is hope that is acted upon. It changes the way we respond to the good and the bad, the clear and the fuzzy, the known and the unknown.

When I wake up in the morning, I’ll reach out to my bedside table and grope for a contact lens case that I can’t see. But until my fingers curl around it, I’ll have faith that it’s there.

It always has been.