Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's Your Story?

Hello again, blog-land! After spending a wonderful, lazy summer with my kids, things are settling back into a routine around here, and that includes my blog. Though I tend to blog in fits and starts, I’m hoping I can post a little more regularly this school year.

If you’re following me on Facebook (or live around here), you know that our kids went back to school this week. So the past couple of weeks were a flurry of clothes shopping, haircuts, doctor’s visits, and all the other stuff you have to do to get the kids ready for school. For my oldest daughter, that also means appointments with her ophthalmologist and her glaucoma specialist.

She has been going to the same eye doctors since age three, and by now, everyone in the office knows her and greets her by name. (It’s kind of like that guy on Cheers: “Norm!”) She was so proud this latest round of check-ups, because so many people complimented her on how much she’s grown and how lovely she’s become.

The next morning—back on one of those lazy, sleeping-in summer mornings (sigh)—Miss B and I were the only ones awake in a quiet house. She snuggled beside me on the couch and asked, “Mom, why does everyone know me at Dr. Packwood’s and Dr. Flowers’?”

Lazily stroking her hair, I said, “You know, honey. It’s because of everything you’ve gone through.”

She curled up her legs and tucked her bare feet under the ruffle of her pink horse nightgown. “You mean, because I’ve had surgeries and stuff?”

I chuckled at the understatement. “Yeah, you could say that.” It took me a moment to realize that she was asking a genuine question.

And then it hit me—she doesn’t know her own story!

Oh, she knows bits and pieces of it, of course, but so much of her journey took place when she was so young that she honestly doesn’t remember much of it. (Which is probably a blessing, since those were a traumatic few years.)

So I spent the next half hour, just the two of us, telling Miss B her story.

I started with her unexplained headaches at age three, followed by the terrifying day her fever spiked, her left pupil inexplicably dilated, and we were whisked into the ER. Then the MRIs and CT scans and tests—and the specialist in OKC who couldn’t explain the pupil but thought she might have high eye pressure. The dreadful confirmation of that, followed by an emergency eye surgery that failed and another surgery that was so intense that she was bedridden for weeks (ever tried to keep a 3 year old perfectly still?) and caused significant side effects. Then a surgery on her right eye that failed and another surgery to put a tube in that eye. Then dozens of exams under anesthesia to check her pressure when she was too young to sit still to take a pressure reading. Oh, and all the surgeries since then, not including the laser ones. Not to mention the panicked trips between Austin and Fort Worth to take care of various complications, and the ever-present reality that we’re only ever a day away from another surgery. (Last week, her glaucoma doctor told us that she’ll probably need surgery this year on her left eye. Sigh.)

“But that’s not the whole story,” I assured her. “Your story isn’t complete without the God part.”

I reminded her that the doctors still can’t explain what caused her left pupil to pop open. (To this day, it’s fully dilated; you can barely see any of her blue iris.) We call that her “God spot.” Because if it weren’t for that pupil, the doctors would never have started looking at her eyes. And if they hadn’t looked at her eyes, they wouldn’t have discovered the glaucoma. And if they hadn’t discovered the glaucoma, she would be blind. (Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, because by the time most people find it, it’s too late.)

So, to protect His precious child, God reached down and touched her eye. The very thing that sets Miss B apart from other kids—her deformed pupil—is God’s permanent mark on her, the scar from which healing came. And though she’s self-conscious about that eye sometimes, especially when other kids make fun of her, it’s an essential part of her story. The story of God’s grace.

When you think of it, we all have a story. Ours is probably different from Miss B’s, but in a lot of ways, I bet it’s the same.

We were going along in life, minding our own business and doing pretty well for ourselves—until something unexpected tripped us up. Something painful, something scary, something we would never have chosen in a million years, something we desperately wish we could go back in time and erase. But for His own purposes, God chose to weave that into our life story.

And even though that painful thing probably left a scar, and though it may set you apart from other people, it’s part of your story. The story of God’s grace.

No matter what our scar is, God has included it in our story for a reason. And He gently assures us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (1 Corinthians 12:9).

I don’t know what else God has in store for Miss B, and I don’t know what else He plans to write into my own story, or yours. But I do know how our stories will end:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:1–5; emphasis added)
 Now, that's a story I'm proud to be part of!

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