Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today is my husband's birthday. I'm not sure he would want me to share his age publicly, but as he put it this morning, the next "BIG" milestone in a few short years is going to be FORTY!

I'd dwell on his advanced age a bit more if it weren't for the fact that I'm only a few months younger than he. When in the world did we get so old?

A few weeks ago, I sat in the waiting room of a large eye surgery center. The place was filled with all manner of grandparent-ish folks, waiting for cataract or glaucoma repairs. I was kind of feeling my age a bit as I looked around at my "peers" that day. A younger guy leaned over to me and whispered, "Are we ever going to be this old? Are we ever going to find ourselves hanging out in the eye surgery center waiting rooms for our spouses?"

Sensing the question was rhetorical anyway, I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. He was obviously just there to give his dad a ride. But I knew that down a long corridor, in a sterile surgery room, my way-too-young-for-this husband was earning his membership the hard way. This guy didn't know he was talking to someone who was already in the "club".

About 33 years ago, David suffered a significant injury which resulted in almost a complete loss of vision in his left eye. Since that time, he has braved countless surgeries to correct and repair the damage he did when he poked a stick into his eye after being startled by the sound of a B.B. gun.

(Yes, we'd like to apply to be the poster family for every "It could happen to you" cliche' involving eye safety).

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out White T-Shirt

Besides the loss of vision, he's lived relatively symptom-free from the injury until this year. To the best of their knowledge, the doctors and surgeons he's consulted over the past few months haven't really known how to explain the sudden onset of intense pain and discomfort he's endured. Their general consensus was that, after all this time living without function, his eye began to shut down and his body, in turn, began to reject it.

David decided to pursue "Enucleation", which meant he would have his eye removed and replaced with a prosthetic. He was confident in his decision. After all, he'd told me (even years prior) that if he ever had another eye surgery, he'd want it to be taken out to ensure it was his LAST eye surgery.

I didn't blame him. I was one of his biggest cheerleaders in the decision. And quite honestly, in the weeks leading up to the procedure, I didn't give the whole thing much thought at all.

But a week before he went into the appointment, he was sharing a little of his heart with the small group he teaches at our church on Sunday mornings. As I listened to him speak, I was profoundly struck by one thought in particular.

He said, "I'm not afraid of the surgery because I know it's the right thing to do, and I don't want to live with the pain for another minute. But it's still hard as I think about it. It may be a bad eye; it may be diseased. But it's still mine and it's all I've ever known."

I realized at that moment that my husband is honest, wise, and one of the bravest men I know.

For the next few days, I mulled that comment over and over in my mind. It wasn't long before God began showing me the spiritual applications for what David taught me. I, along with so many people, struggle with letting go of those things that encumber me, even though these things cause pain and discomfort in my life. I am aware of areas in my life that are diseased with pride or complacency, but sometimes I let my "stuff" just stay because:

It's who I am.
It's all I've ever known of myself.
And while I may not like it, I don't know what I'd be without it.
So I hang on to my selfish ways.

It was a rough week, the first week after David's surgery. There was a lot of pain. There were a few complications. Isn't that always the way? The pain has now subsided, but there are new challenges. Although he was legally blind before in his injured eye, there was a small amount of peripheral vision there. Now, he has only the vision his right eye affords him. He's literally adjusting to a completely new outlook on life. And he's doing it with grace and dignity.

Let me say it again, my husband is one of the bravest men I know.

And I want to be like him. I want God to give me the courage to let Him remove the areas of my life that aren't acceptable to Him. I realize that there may be pain and adjustment in the process. But what He has for me is worth it!

Hebrews 12: 1Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. 2We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.

My husband may be lamenting this birthday as a reminder of the aging process. But there are good things that come with age, too. Wisdom, maturity, a courageous spirit. And if those qualities are usually reserved for the "more mature" in years, well, I'll welcome my time spent hanging out in the glaucoma/cataract center waiting rooms. As long as we are out of our appointments in time for the early-bird dinner specials!

Happy Birthday, David! I love you!


Surviving 4 said...

Wow - a beautifully written tribute to your man! If he doesn't read anything else you post here, he needs to read this one :) I miss you, friend! I think another cruise is in order so we can get all caught up again :)

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Cheryl Martens said...

I sure miss you guys! Let's get together before Sarah leaves for Chicago. We can come down that way to make it easier for you guys. Sounds like we need to catch up on all that is going on in your life lately! Text or call me 727-946-4371

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