I was born with a lazy right eye. It is a genetic issue from my dad’s side. My parents did their best to correct the issue in the eighties, taking me to a specialist when I was 3. I wore an eye patch and glasses through 1st grade. At that point, I was deemed “cured”, as aesthetically, it was no longer noticeable, at least, most of the time.
What I didn’t know, is that this condition continued to affect me, even though I thought I was basically all better. I still didn’t see like everyone else, and I had no idea. My right eye shuts on and off to avoid double vision when it veers ever so slightly, which causes me to have little to no depth perception, and eye tracking is much more difficult for me than for a normal person which affects my ability to read quickly. I have to focus much more and utilize more brain power for tasks that don’t require that for a person with normal vision. It is the reason I was/am a day dreamer.
For years, I assumed I just wasn’t as smart as others. I have difficulty focusing. Reading and studying is harder for me, and I don’t enjoy it because it is so much extra work. Although I am very musical, I have a hard time sight reading as quickly as someone with normal vision, and I always have to focus super intently to do it. When I was in driver’s ed at 15 years old, I didn’t understand the depth perception test. I was completely embarrassed, made a joke of it (because I ALWAYS tell jokes when I feel awkward to cope), and just assumed I was stupid. My senior year, when I was auditioning for All-District Choir, I completely lost my place during a singing exercise and bombed my audition. I still made All-District, but I didn’t make All-State, which I had done the year before as the top alto 1 in my district. I was so embarrassed, but again, just assumed I wasn’t very smart, and that maybe the year before was a fluke. I won’t even go into the issues I had during sport tryouts because I couldn’t really tell where the ball was, but again, for years, I just internalized this as I wasn’t smart enough or good enough. Other people were just more coordinated than me, more athletic than me.
Then about 3 years ago, I scheduled a routine eye exam for me for contacts with my son’s eye specialist. Matthew was born with bilateral strabismus, and although he had a surgery to correct his issues when he was 4, we discovered 6 years later that he was still living with difficulty due to the fact his eyes were not perfectly corrected. His eyes were taking turns turning off and on, and as a result, were not working together, but separately. Dr. Adema treated him with prism glasses and vision therapy to correct his eye dysfunction as much as possible. His eyes now work together, his eye tracking is MUCH improved, and he can actually see 3D movies, which I’ve never been able to do. At the time, he was at a midpoint in his treatment.
Dr. Adema noticed what many other eye doctors had missed for years. My right eye is still weaker than my left and my brain turns it off pretty regularly to avoid double vision, i.e. I have vision loss in my right eye due to a very slight lazy eye. I have learned to function with this condition, not even knowing I had it. He explained to me that because I was 34 at the time, fixing me would do more harm than good, because I would have to completely learn how to re-see. He explained to me how it affects me. He told me that I don’t have depth perception. He told me eye tracking is difficult, and let me know that unless I memorized everything, I would not be able to feasibly pass my piano proficiency in seminary. He told me that it affects my ability to focus. He told me that I’m not stupid, and that I’ve had to learn how to function differently than everyone else.
I went home and cried. I know it may seem silly to you, but for me, who had always just assumed that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough, life suddenly made more sense. I began to notice my eyes not working correctly. I was aware.
So why am I telling you all about my lazy eye? Well, the main reason isn’t so you can check it out next time you see me. Having this condition, and becoming aware of it so late in life allowed me to understand something much better than I ever had before.
Matthew 7:1-5 says this:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Sometimes we are born with planks or specks in our eyes, and we are completely oblivious to their presence. We learn to function with them, see around them, and don’t think for a second that we see any differently than anyone else. This can be as a result of culture, class, race, family history, medical issues, or an as-sundry of other things. Why do we try to remove the speck in our brother’s eye when we don’t address our own plank? Well, sometimes it’s only because we don’t believe we have a problem. We don’t believe we have a plank there. But here’s the thing: as Christians, when someone lovingly or not so lovingly addresses our issue, even if it’s new information to us, we need to be humble enough to look into it, and not so quick to react negatively. Sometimes it can be shameful, but we need to be aware of ourselves, because if we are not aware of our sin, how can we turn from it? Truth is SO IMPORTANT.
I guess my point is, pray that God will show you your planks and lose the pride. We have to be humble in order to follow Jesus, and none of us are perfect. It’s okay not to be perfect, but it’s not okay to believe that we don’t need to continue to be sanctified. None of us are there yet. Embrace it. Be aware of it, and use the knowledge to strive for holiness, because we are called to be set apart.