It was without question the darkest, scariest day of my entire life.
It was Labor Day 2005 and I was typing on a computer when suddenly blood began to drip down the screen. Wait, WHAT? I looked again and what I saw took my breath away. The blood was not on the screen! It was INSIDE my left eye, and everywhere I looked, on the wall, on my own hand, outside on the beautiful fall leaves, it was there. Like rain on a window, it trickled down my retina in rivulets of crimson as I sat panicked, fear stricken, and powerless to do anything to stop it. Within minutes, all I could see out of that eye was a haze of pinkish red, and I knew that my worst fear since my diabetes diagnosis sixteen years earlier had come to pass: diabetic retinopathy. I was only twenty-five years old and my life, as I knew it, had officially ended. But that was just the beginning.
It seemed like everything bad that could happen happened during that time was happening. Shortly following that horrific day, my right eye began to bleed just like my left eye had. Thankfully my doctor decided it would eventually clear on its own without surgery, although I would have to undergo surgery to save the sight in my left eye. I had to go through multiple laser treatments in both eyes regularly until January of the next year in order to cauterize the weak blood vessels. That in itself was awful. Terrible. On my list of things I wouldn’t even wish for my worst enemy. Then, I was fired from my job as a legal secretary, even after I was up front and honest with them about my condition. I told them I would just resign, as I couldn’t very well work when I couldn’t see. No, they said, we will work with you. We want to help you in this very difficult time. “We will even set up a cot in the back room so you can rest”, my boss told me. So I said okay, grateful for their understanding. Then I had to take two weeks off of work to have the eye surgery in my left eye, called a vitrectomy, and only a few days after I returned to work, they fired me without warning. On top of it all, my then-fiancé and I went through a heart-wrenching breakup. It really wasn’t a huge surprise, as we had had many problems and I had finally come to the realization that we were not right for each other. But still, after being with someone for three years, it was extremely tragic, especially when I so needed someone to lean on during the hardest, darkest time of my life. I felt like a modern-day Job in so many ways, and my faith was so weak. Family and friends prayed and tried to encourage me, but I still felt so far away from God and like He had completely abandoned and forgotten about me. It all seemed so unfair! I had spent most of my life serving God and ministering to others in one way or another…from singing in church as a little girl to witnessing to my friends in school, to going to Bible college and singing with my college music team, to traveling and singing with an international music ministry, to leading worship at my church in Denver. What had I done to deserve this? Life looked so bleak and I envisioned going blind and having to move home to live with my parents for the rest of my life; an invalid with no hope or purpose or future.
Well, I’m sure that’s what the Devil wanted for me, but the reason I’m writing this today is to tell you that GOD had other plans! Despite the way things looked from my limited perspective, His plans for me were plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11-14). His plans were to turn what Satan meant for evil into good (Genesis 50:20)! My life did not end that September day so long ago. In many ways it was just beginning and I give Him ALL the praise! Last Wednesday, October 21st, 2015, marked TEN years to the day since I had my eye surgery. Since I had gotten sick from the anesthesia immediately afterwards and had thrown up every hour for 12 hours after that, even that is a testimony to God’s goodness. My doctor told me with all of that pressure on my eyes so soon after the laser and surgery, I should have had more bleeding, which would defeat the purpose of the surgery, but I didn’t. I still vividly remember him coming into my hospital room and saying in amazement, “Someone up there must be watching out for you.” Yes, doctor. Truer words have never been spoken because ten years later, I’m still here. Not blind, not living with my parents. Instead, I’m celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness to me in blessing me and giving me what I never thought I would have in my future: my eyesight, the love of a wonderful husband, and two beautiful children that are biologically mine! I was often told because of the diabetes that I couldn’t ever have my own kids and that I should adopt. I have nothing against adoption, and I think it is such a beautiful thing and an answer to prayer for so many. I was open to it if absolutely necessary…but because I was told I could not, it was so important to be able to carry my own children. God saw that desire of my heart and fulfilled it, and I just want to praise Him for that! He is SO good!
He brought me through that dark, horrible season, my personal valley of the shadow of death, and into this new season of life and light and blessings, and for a long time now I’ve had 20/20 vision in both eyes and am doing great with no other complications!!! Even through two pregnancies, which can cause detrimental eye changes, God has miraculously preserved my sight. I love being a wife and mom, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to fulfill those roles. I cannot praise or thank Him enough for holding me and carrying me through that time of my life. Even though I doubted Him and even questioned His goodness, He never gave up on me. He carried me, kept His promises to me and truly brought me out to rich fulfillment! In reflecting on what I went through, I can’t help but think of Psalm 66:8-12:
“Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved…
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”
So be encouraged today if you are facing a dark and trying time in your life. God is not done with you and He will carry you through it! If He did it for me, He WILL do it for you! Don’t lose hope; just keep your eyes on Jesus. Even when you doubt, He will lift you up so you will not sink below the waves. His faithfulness will be your strength and His goodness will prevail!!!