Learning How to See

My mother-in-law is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease,” the woman sitting across from me began. “After years of caring for her in our home, we finally had to put her in a nursing home.”


She flipped through a health magazine left on the table in the waiting room. Her gaze never left the pages but it didn’t slow down her dialogue.


“She’s broken so many bones because she keeps forgetting that she doesn’t know how to walk. When she was with us, we had to constantly watch her. If we took our eyes off of her for a second, she would try to get out of bed and fall. She can’t feed herself. She can’t swallow—she’s forgotten how. And now she’s lost her eyesight. She’s forgotten how to see.”


Forgotten how to see?” I asked. “How do you forget how to see?”


“The doctor says that there’s nothing wrong with her vision but the ability to see is controlled by the brain, not the eyes.”


Soon my name was called and I said goodbye, but I couldn’t get our conversation out of my mind. The ability to see is controlled by the brain?


Later that night I interrupted my husband’s evening ritual. “John, did you know that we don’t actually see with our eyes?”


Not even shifting his radar from Law and Order he muttered, “Yeah, the eyes only route information from the optic nerve. Visual perception actually occurs in the brain.”


Occurs in the brain? Where did he get so smart?


I don’t remember learning how to see. It was instinct…effortless—like my reactions to life. In fact, I don’t remember learning to how “see” my circumstances either. My view of life, my opinions and judgments all soaked in as naturally as a sea sponge soaks in salt water. But after years of gradual contamination my perception of life was weakened by false beliefs and failing emotions. My well-being depended on my perspective but most of the time my focus was way off. So guess what? I was miserable. And eventually, I forgot how to see.


I focused on events, things or people to make me happy. If only this happens, then I’ll be happy.  If only I had this, I could be happy. If only he would do this, then I could be happy. Too many ifs.


My vision was blurred for years. I wasn’t spiritually blind—I had received salvation, but just because someone knows Jesus doesn’t mean they can “see”. I went through most of my life looking at life with faulty vision, all because my focus was wrong. It took me years before I figured out that Jesus saves and does Lasik.


Now I’m able to see beauty everywhere. I can perceive and distinguish things I was once oblivious to. My circumstances and the great “ifs” of life don’t rule my emotions. I’m no longer miserable.


 How about you? Do circumstances dictate your happiness? Do things consume your thoughts? Do certain people steal your joy? When we live with disappointment and sadness for extended periods of time, we quit trying to evict them. It’s too much trouble. It’s easier to let them hang around. They become familiar and we get good at disguising them. Miserable? No, I’m just tired today. Depressed? Oh, I’ll be fine. It’s nothing. Angry? Nah, I’m good.


When we live with sadness, we survive. We exist. And eventually…we forget how to see. But there is more to life than what our eyes reveal. Just like our ability to see is controlled by the brain, our perceptions route our reality to our heart. But Christ can change our reality. There is life beyond the crisis. There is beauty beyond the pain. If we surrender our vision to Christ, He can change our focus and we can learn how to see again.


So how about you? 

    What kind of spiritual vision would you say that you have?

    1. 20/20. I see life clearly. Life has its obstacles, but I don’t let them get in my way.
    2. I’m near sighted. I see near things clearly, but things at a distance appear blurry. It’s hard for me to see how God is working in my future.
    3. I’m farsighted. I have trouble seeing what God is doing close up. If I back away and look at things, it’s easier to see.
    4. I have night blindness. I see well most of the time, but have difficulty seeing when my world is dark.
    5. My vision is impaired. I have trouble seeing life clearly and often have to rely on the insight of others.   
    6. I was born blind. My natural predisposition is to see devastation and I’ve often battled depression.
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3 Responses to Learning How to See

  1. Fadia at #

    Unfortunately, my vision is impaired. I tend to see through others. I was raised to rely on others. Born into the Arab culture, a lot of times my opinion had little value and was put down. As a result I’ve grown accustomed to relying on my husband’s knowledge and insight. Not a bad thing, but, a woman should be able to make her own decisions and not pester her husband with trivials, a woman should be able to stand on her own at times to support her family, she should have a backbone!!! My vision is so impaired, that approval from others is essential to my being. But, that is so frustrating and depressing, because it has led to me losing my joy, my desire to do my best, do be there for my family…. but how to surrender that to Christ, I know that is the answer, but how do you get there?? I want to live life to it’s fullest, but how do you do that??
    Thank you for your insight! It’s true we forget to see, and it’s true Christ can change that, it’s a journey….

  2. Gaye at #

    I had never thought about this from your perspective, although I pray that my children’s eyes would be opened to see Him and their ears would be opened to hear Him. You are so good at seeing the obvious that no one else sees. I love reading you!



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