The Letters

Can you do the line below that?

“Yes.”

Silence.

“Okay, go ahead and read it.”

I held the black patch-stick in front of my eye and cleared my throat.

“Umm, X? Could be an M.” I squinted desperately.

“Please don’t squint.”

I bit my lip.

She knew I was on the verge of tears, so she tried to rescue me.

“Let’s just try the line above, hon. It’s okay if you can’t see it.”

No, it’s not okay.

I breathed in slowly and removed the stick.

“I can’t see it. I can’t see any of them.”

Moments of weakness have a way of reminding you that weakness isn’t momentary.

I closed my eyes and let the tears burn through my makeup.

Quite simply, I don’t do well with need.

I didn’t want to need thicker lenses, stronger contacts, more help doing what I feel like I should be able to do on my own.

“I’m sorry.” I mumbled.

“It’s okay, sweetie.” She smiled. “Believe it or not, you’re not the first one I’ve had that didn’t want to admit she couldn’t see.”

I nodded in gratitude for the way she spoke.

Though she was talking to a twenty-something girl, it was the sixth-grader in me that heard her.

For ten minutes I had played with the patch of tape covering a gap in my school bus seat. I peeled it back and forth, trying to come up with the right words. I gave up and went with the obvious.

“Will you sign my yearbook?” The hot bus bumped along, the sound of last day cheers spilling out of the half-open windows.

“Sure, Angela.” She smiled.

She was, without question, the prettiest girl I knew. And the way I saw it, her name in my book meant I was someone important.

She wrote for a few seconds, closed it, and handed it over the green pleather seat to me.

“Thanks so much.” I turned around and slid it into my backpack, smiling from ear to ear.

It was a new day.

When I got home, I ran to my room and ripped it out, eager to see the stamp of approval .

“I hope you find your spektacles.”

I stared at the letters, tried to rearrange them into something that looked like kindness, but I couldn’t. The grammar nerd in me was as offended as the unpopular girl.

“It’s a c.” I muttered out loud.

I had argued with my mother that morning, and in the end, convinced her that I didn’t need them that day. I could make it one day without my stupid glasses.

I had bumped, knocked-into, and squinted my way through 7 periods just to say I wasn’t bound to them. In the cafeteria, several girls asked me where my glasses were and I lied. I said I had lost them.

I knew they were perched on my white-wicker nightstand, alongside an issue of “Teen Bop” and a collection of safety pins I had been beading for kids who wouldn’t give me the time of day.

Need feels like an ugly crutch.

“Angela? Are you ready to try again?” I shook my head, awakening from my thoughts. She was the nicest optometrist I had ever broken down in front of.

“It’s Angie.” I mumbled. “I don’t go by Angela anymore.” I smiled at her, my eyes thanking her while I wiped my cheeks dry.

As expected, my eyesight had gotten considerably worse. She walked me through the options, and I heard a couple words- “featherweight….astigmatism….new line of lenses…”

I thanked her and took my prescription, explaining that I would come back another day to choose them.

Ridiculous, really.

I couldn’t see.

It was in my genes, not my choices.

I had a conversation recently with someone I care about, and I walked away knowing we didn’t see eye to eye about the role of Christ in our lives.

Chalk it up to science, to intellect, to anything that makes it seem like He’s on the periphery, and it’s hard to argue.

Logic and love are so often at odds.

“He’s failed me, Angie. I’ve only prayed for a couple things in the last five years, and every one of them went the wrong way.” He went into detail, and yes, I could see that it felt upside-down.

You should know, I love the Lord.

But I freeze in these situations.

I think the counselor in me wants to agree and affirm and nod and sympathize and wage war against the injustice, but I don’t share the way I should. I don’t tell him that later that night I cried on his behalf. As I prayed for him, I kept seeing the words, “He can’t see…he can’t see…”

Underneath his reasoning and his words I saw myself, feet dangling and heart racing.

Yes, I can read it…

I don’t need this. It’s just another solution in a string of solutions that never make me whole. They just make me different. They make me reliant. They don’t really fix it at all.

Try the one above…

That’s what I really wanted to say, if the words would have come.

Don’t squint, friend. I’m on your side.

The best thing you can do is admit that you can’t see a foot in front of your face without this. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you brave.

I would have held his hand, smiled at him, and taken away the letters completely.

It isn’t a test.

You aren’t failing.

It’s just that you can’t get well until you see that you aren’t.

It’s in your genes. 

You’ve lived your life stumbling and blind, unaware of the beauty all around you.

And why?

Because the bus bumps along.

The wind is hardly a relief anymore.

It tastes like regret and whips you with lies.

This will make you vulnerable, it says…

I want to be home, in my safe room, where the pen marks don’t scratch their way to my heart.

But we aren’t there yet.

And in the meantime, there is life to be seen. It’s magnificent, actually.

Hush, I would have said.

And he would have slipped them on and wept because what I said was true.

I want you to see it, too.

Whoever you are, and for whatever reason you stumbled here today- know this.

It wasn’t by accident, or by chance.

It was the hand of a watching God, who loves you in all of your blindness.

The leaves are changing just outside my window, and I can’t help but wish you were here with me.

I would hold your hands, wipe your cheeks, and tell you that you haven’t missed the best part. I would celebrate with you as the trees sing gold and glory, and we would wait together.

It’s a new day, after all.

Jesus, help us to see what we are without You, and when we have…

Let us have all of You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  • @AudreyWiley

    Great post…I needed this!

  • http://www.arearrangedlife.com/ Miriam

    Beautiful!!! I have a friend in a similar situation that is turning the corner, eyes opening. I’m so thankful!

  • Jesslyn42

    And now I can’t see….through the tears.

    Beautiful words of reminders I needed. Reminders that He IS all we need. Wishing I could come sit with you (even for just a short while) and just let words pour out. The struggles, blessings, life in general, questions I wish I knew the answer to … the list just seems to go on. Trying to remember that HE is ALL that matters though. No matter what.

    Thank you for another touching post.

  • Jen

    Thank you a thousand times for sharing your words and your heart! There is a group of us in Montana reading What Women Fear and it is drawing us so close to each other and closer to Him. Come visit us sometime!!

  • Erin

    Thank you. I needed to hear this today.

  • Lisa

    Great and insightful post.

  • anonymous

    i have been a Christ follower for 20 years and over the last year and a half i have had a ‘crisis of faith’ like i have never had before. i have been dealing with grief and I tend to take on too much of others’ pain and i can’t shake it. For the last month or more i have been dealing with a severe bout of depression; i am just now starting to feel the fog lift but know that tomorrow the dark clouds may surround me again. i have been so angry at God, even convincing myself that he doesn’t exist, wanting absolutely nothing to do with him. Your post has really touched me deeply…. perhaps because the fog has somewhat lifted today. Today I feel strong enough to admit that I might be sick and need healing.

    • Nae

      Your openness and honesty touches my heart almost as much as Angie’s post.

      And on this evening, I am praying that your fog, like clouds, will continue to dissipate, allowing glimpses of His love to shine through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.coburn Jamie Ivester Coburn

    GASP! This was amazing (as usual). You are such an amazing writer! I have never met you, but oh my goodness, I love you and I pray for you! Thank you for blessing me with your words over and over again!!

  • Reese

    Your great big ole’ heart spills out all over this post. Thanks, Angie. Love and Prayers.
    Reese

  • mindysue

    I love the way you lay your heart out bare that we can indentify and grow. Thank you for being real so that other’s can feel it’s okay to be real also. And thank you for gently reminding our six grade selves He is all we need – all we have ever needed.

  • Laurie in California

    Your words here today speak my heart Angie. I am 64, and all of my childhood I felt this way. I was my own worst enemy because of things done to me. I have spent many years learning to imbrace the wounded little girl in me. May all of us learn this and teach our young children and grandchildren to love ourselves as God has made us. We are perfect in His Sight. Love you <3

  • Lisa Martin

    This couldn’t have come on a better day, and I am an optometrist.
    “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” Matthew 6:22

  • Coby

    I love the way you view life! And I love the way you share it! Thanks for the reminder that everything I need is in Him.

  • Sheila

    I love your heart for God, and his ever wandering children. Your words have blessed me, and encouraged me. I’m reading Mended now. I was sitting out on my deck, book in hand, lost in thought. I could feel Him speaking to me through your words. I could feel Him all around me. I was reminded, once again, of His great love for ME. Thank you, and Him……

  • Holly in Oregon

    Such splendid, vulnerable TRUTH! Thank you.

  • Cat Moore

    I just love you, Angie! Thank you for this. You have a gift for taking the everyday things and even the smallest details of our lives (that may seem small to others, but stand out BIG in our minds) and making them have such purpose and meaning…..purpose and meaning from Him. From who He says we are. Meaning of TRUTH. I love that about you and your writing. I was THRILLED to get a copy of Mended this past weekend at the Influence Conference!!! Thank you! And, it was so great to meet Jessica and Raechel! They were both supposed to tell you “hey” from me! ;) Love you! cat (www.catdmoore.com)

  • http://www.facebook.com/belovedaimee Aimee Hill-Huffman

    Don’t squint, friend. I’m on your side.
    It isn’t a test.
    You aren’t failing.

    words spoken from God through you…thank you.

  • bhall7

    Beautiful post Angie. You have such a gift with words. Thanks for sharing your heart and faith even when it brings me to tears. Maybe especially so.

  • Anna White

    This is my first time visiting the blog and what a wonderful post! I’m glad I found my way here.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lanae.wyniabrown Lanae Wynia Brown

    Angie, you are such a beautiful person, inside and out! I had the privilege of hearing you speak at the Women Of Faith Conference this weekend and was blown away by you. What a gift you have for speaking, for connecting, for drawing out laughter, thank you so much for sharing your story and being a witness for Christ. Now I have been reading your blog for the past 2 hours, crying and laughing; marveling at your faith and your honesty. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • TJ

    These were awesome words. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Beth

    You have no idea how you have touched my life. I lost our sweet baby just a little over a week ago (miscarriage) and I am so brokenhearted. We prayed for her, loved her and we were so excited to meet her. The only thing that brings me comfort is knowing that she is in the arms of our sweet Jesus. She was made in love, carried with love and now rests in the arms of ultimate love.
    I found videos of you talking on youtube and you and your husband are such amazing examples of Gods love and encouragement. Your strength is just astounding. I have been following your blog for a long time, generally reading with tears running down my cheeks. Oh how I wish I could sit across from you with a cup of tea for a chat. I know you would tell me it is all going to be ok, and that there is still hope for our family to grow. Because with God anything is possible. I have days where I feel very discouraged, but I do know God is there, carrying me. This post is such a reminder of that. God bless you Angie, I cannot find the words to express exactly how I feel about your heart. All I can say is thank you, thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  • Bree Brasil

    Simply beautiful Angie. Thank you for always sharing your heart with us – I am honored and blessed.

  • Amaris Miller

    “The best thing you can do is admit that you can’t see a foot in front of your face without this. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you brave. I would have held his hand, smiled at him, and taken away the letters completely. It isn’t a test. You aren’t failing. It’s just that you can’t get well until you see that you aren’t. It’s in your genes.”

    These words brought tears to my eyes. I feel so often when I cannot hear God or see him that I am failing, that this is evidence yet again of the myriad of ways in which I fall short. What grace to find that it isn’t the end of the road that leads to me being irredeemable (how I often feel) but the beginning of the road that leads to redemption and sight and beauty.

    I have followed your blog for the past several years and have cried often at your posts as well as at Audrey’s story. A family doctor, I have shared your blog with patients and friends in similar situations. Thank you for your vulnerability and your celebration of God’s work in your life.

  • http://www.differentparent.com/ Wick Anderson

    A great reminder, especially as we read the story of Bartimaeus this week. He wasn’t the only blind man in the story, and Jesus can bring sight and clarity to so much more than we usually even realize we need. Thanks for your words.

  • Guest

    You aren’t failing.

    It’s just that you can’t get well until you see that you aren’t.

    It’s in your genes.

    You’ve lived your life stumbling and blind, unaware of the beauty all around you.

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  • SarahD

    “The best thing you can do is admit that you can’t see a foot in front of your face without this. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you brave.” So well written, Angie. (as is always the case!) Thank you for sharing. For encouraging, challenging, and touching my heart as I read this today. This post has been sitting in my google reader for 12 days and I’m finally catching up on some reading today…today was just the day that I needed this. Thank you.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kim.k.carlin Kim Kyle Carlin

    I just recently found your blog and have sat here reading for the last 2 hours. We lost our firstborn son this past December while he was still developing inside me at 18 weeks due to cervix problems. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Reading how much hope you had through everything inspires me. I know that God is in control and holding my sweet boy till I go to meet him. Anyways I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for your completely honest heart. God Bless!