When I first heard the doctor say the words, “Some people lose their vision completely,” my world shattered. I had been in to the doctor for a routine eye exam, and was told that there were nerves swollen in both of my eyes. The doctor told me this could mean one of two things: a brain tumor (yikes!), or something called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, which can severely damage your vision if not treated quickly.
The next few months were a whirlwind of doctors, tests, and medications, most of which I felt like I couldn’t even be mentally present for. My biggest concern was my family. I wondered how in the world I could continue being a good mother and wife, if I couldn’t see anything. I reflected on my life and realized how much time I had wasted focusing on things of little or no importance. I realized how consumed I was by my physical appearance, social and financial status, or how many likes I got on Instagram. I had to be the best mom, wife, cook, and interior decorator, and I had to do it all without error. I was driven to my knees, and after heart-wrenching study and prayer, the answer I received was so simple, “One day at a time.” That simple answer has helped me in so many ways. It has led me to simplify my life, cherish the things that matter most, and diminish the many worries in my mind.
If there is one thing I’ve learned during this trial, it’s that all the things of the world don’t matter. At scary as the past few months have been, I’m full of gratitude. This time has forced me to evaluate my life, get rid of the clutter, and focus on what matters most. For me, that’s just three things.
Faith in the Unseen
God gives you trials so you can learn, grow, and draw closer to Him. This was definitely the case with my recent experience. Strip it all away, and I’ll always have my faith. “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21) How ironic that this scripture now has a literal meaning to me. Just because of the possibility that I may not be able to see my kids grow up, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I’ll still be able to feel their hugs and kisses, clean up their messes, and talk to them every day. God is no different. Even though I can’t see Him with my own two eyes, I can feel Him all around me. I can talk to Him whenever I please, because I have faith that He is there.
My health has forced me to put every ounce of my trust and faith in my Heavenly Father. Though it’s been scary at times, I know He has a plan for me. Through Him, I’ve been led to some of the most amazing doctors who have taught me that with proper treatment and preventative care, the possibility of me going completely blind is very low. What a blessing!
Family, My Greatest Treasure
Have you ever been on an airplane and experienced turbulence? In a talk that Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave in 2010, he explains that the best way to handle turbulence is to slow down—much like when you go over a speed bump. The same principle applies to our daily lives. I’ve always had a problem with overscheduling myself, and measuring my worth off how busy I am. The following quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf really hit home for me, and continues to motivate me daily to slow things down. “It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.” I’ve learned that being busy isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Sometimes having a messy house and letting my daughter drip red popsicles on her new 4th of July shirt is more fun than spending all day cleaning and wiping up sticky faces.
I’m proud to say that I’ve been treasuring my family even more lately. Besides slowing down, the biggest change I’ve made is to refrain from being so “plugged in.” The amount of time wasted looking at phones and watching Netflix adds up! Since I’ve made this change, I’ve been able to catch more smiles and create more laughs. Instead of comparing my life to all those “perfect” lives online, I’ve become more secure in who I am, which enables me to put my family first in everything I do.
In Everything, Give Thanks
Before I could focus my energy on faith and healing, fear crept in. I memorized every tiny detail of my daughter’s face. I thought about what she may look like as a teenager, young adult, and on her wedding day. I saw my husband in a new light. For the first time, I noticed the slight crinkles around his smiling eyes and imagined how they might deepen with more years of laughter and love. Now that I’m over the shock of it all, I try to focus all my energy on being grateful. It’s like I am seeing the world with new eyes—eyes that are desperate to see the light and take in as much joy as possible. I love the way that this trial has forced me to look at the world.
I recently took a trip to Havasupai, AZ with my husband, and oh how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful world! God’s gifts and miracles are everywhere. It reminds me of another quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. “No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.” There are countless blessings all around us, big and small. Unfortunately many of us forget to take the time to notice them. My life has completely changed by pausing each day to think about all I have to be grateful for.
When you strip the world away, life is simple. However Satan makes it SO easy to get caught up in all the chaos. I want to challenge you to take some time this week to strip away all the crazy in your life, and focus on what matters most. Make a list, and share it with me! I’d love to hear what you do to simplify your life. It has been almost a year since this incident and though it rocked my world and entire existence, I am grateful for it. I have a confidence that I’ll be just fine, no matter what happens. And guess what? No tumor! Maybe this was God’s way of telling me to slow down and focus on what matters most. It’s my prayer that you can do the same, for it has blessed my life in more ways than I can ever put into words.