“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. ”
I’m sitting here chewing my nails and hanging my head in my hands, as I remember an ugly incident I perpetrated years ago when my vision loss was new and my justifiable resentment* fully intact. This is a hard story to tell. Everything in me is saying, And you’re telling this WHY?
You know those people who wait in front of supermarkets collecting money for various organizations (sports, charities, etc.)? A man collecting in front of our local grocery store once had the poor judgment to ask me, upon exiting the store, if I cared “to help the veterans today?” His judgment was poor because he judged me to be a normally-sighted person . (I get that a lot.) He also judged me to be an emotionally stable person. (I get that a lot, too.)
I don’t mean to scare you here, but I think most of you can guess that blind people, or newly-diagnosed partially blind people, can suffer bouts of anger and depression. Such was the case with me that day.
Feeling sorry for myself at the grocery store (always a rough time with so much small print to read), I encountered this man collecting for the veterans. Instead of throwing money into his bucket, I screeched out a question of my own in return for his plea. I said, “Care to help the blind people today?”
I huffed off to the car, feeling oh, so righteous. Until my husband got in and said, “What’s wrong with you? That man doesn’t have any legs!” (I hadn’t noticed.)
I’d like to say I felt awful, went over right away, and apologized to him. Instead, all I said was, “Well, he can problably still drive.”
Garrison Keillor says, “Once you start feeling sorry for yourself, it’s really hard to stop…because it’s SOOOOO satisfying.” I was walking proof of that. Here I was effectively saying to this guy, “My disability’s worse than your disability. So take that!”
Now, to answer my above question as to why I tell this story. I firmly believed at that time that God owed me perfect vision (at least until I was about 75 years old). I even once asked my husband, “Would it kill God to let me see 20/20? Or let me keep one good eye?”
You know what he said? He said, “God did give it to you.” WOW! I thought that was nervy coming from a man who still enjoyed 20/20 vision.
After years of self-pity, anger, tantrums, depression, counseling, (this list could go on), and after losing my wrestling matches with God, I finally realized this was the only way for me to let God in. I mean, really let Him in. Not in a church attending, head knowledge kind of way. But in a brokenhearted, genuine, changed life kind of way. Get this: God was more concerned with the condition of my heart than the condition of my retinas!
And that’s what He is concerned about for all of us—our hearts’ attitude toward Him. It’s the only thing of eternal significance, and half the time, we’re too stupid to see it. We’re pre-occupied with this present world. Feeling ripped off about what we don’t have.
1 Corinthians 7:31 reminds us, “For this world in its present form is passing away.” The eternal perspective is what makes it all bearable.
I no longer believe God owes me anything, but vice versa. After putting up with my starring roles in self-sponsored pity parties (yawn)…and He still wants a relationship with me? His very patience speaks of the depth of His love and grace toward us.
Oh, yeah! And He wants me to tell you about it, too. Well, after all my bad behavior, the least I can do is humble myself to do the telling. Actually it’s an amazing privilege.
*Justifiable resentment is a term used by Steve Arterburn of New Life Ministries.