I’ve known since the moment I had kids that I had to hold them loosely. That tomorrow is not guaranteed. But knowing that and actually doing that are two very different things.
Four days ago, I took Cara in for her annual eye exam. She’s worn glasses for two years and her eyes are changing pretty quickly so she needed her prescription updated.
We go to an eye doctor’s office that uses some super advanced technology to take 280° pictures of your eye. (This means no dilation. No eye drops. No ugly plastic sunglasses.) They just snap a few pictures of your eyes and voila. Eye exam complete.
When the doctor was looking at the pictures of her eyes, he noticed something abnormal – a large dark spot – on the photo of her left eye. He thought it looked like scar tissue. After assuring him she hadn’t had any serious pokes to the her eye, he looked concerned.
And not just a little concerned. It was that look that doctors get when they’re worried but trying not to freak you out.
“I’d like to have her come back in six months so we can take another picture.”
I called my husband and told him what the doctor had seen. Chris, responded in his typically pragmatic way. “Okay.”
I spent the day telling myself it was nothing.
The next day I saw a message on my phone that was left the previous afternoon. The doctor’s office had called and, instead of seeing Cara in six months, they wanted her to come back in six weeks so they could dilate her eyes. So could I please call to schedule that appointment?
And my alarm bells started going off.
Six weeks? What do they think might happen in six weeks? This isn’t a routine check.
Then later, while at work, my phone rang and it was the doctor’s office. Again. The girl from the front desk told me she was calling because the doctor had changed his mind and wanted me to bring Cara back in as soon as possible for more photos.
At those words my heart dropped and my mind went crazy.
“As soon as possible” means it’s urgent. Scar tissue isn’t urgent. Why is it urgent? The only things that are urgent are life-threatening things. Things like tumors.
Oh my God, my little girl has a tumor in her eye.
The next day I was sitting in a meeting for work my phone buzzed. It was the doctor’s office. I had asked that the doctor call me back to help me understand the urgency.
I stepped out of the meeting to take his call.
I mentioned the word “tumor” in hopes that he would laugh and tell me I was being dramatic.
He didn’t. What he said was, “Yes. That’s a possibility, Becky.”
It’s funny how a twenty second phone call can completely rearrange your priorities.
A few simple words and suddenly I didn’t care at all that my house was a wreck. That I hadn’t watered the garden that morning. That there were only a few weeks remaining before school starts. That I hadn’t worked out in a week. That I had a coffee stain on my shirt from tripping as I rushed out the door that morning. That I hadn’t submitted the Clicklist order in time to make the pickup on my way home.
None of that mattered anymore.
The pictures were scheduled for the next morning, roughly 24 hours later. All day I tried to distract myself to keep my anxiety under control. As I do with all big things in life, I spent a lot of mental energy trying to prepare my emotional defense up front. In this case, I was consumed with the question:
If God takes my daughter, does He still love me?
That night as I lay in bed, I knew I should pray, but was overwhelmed by a sense of complete helplessness.
See, I’ve been through this sense of dread before. The unexpected phone call with bad news. The thousand questions and no answers. The doctors appointments. The terrible waiting and not knowing. The ceaseless praying. The outcome I desperately feared but couldn’t stop. And it all but destroyed my belief in God’s desire to hear my prayers for healing.
Now instead of automatically praying in faith and believing God would hear me, I was flooded with skepticism.
Why pray for healing when God’s going to do what God’s going to do?
He knows my heart so he already knows what I want.
And the scariest question…
What will happen to my faith when I pray for healing (again) and it doesn’t happen (again)?
But I tend to live my life under the weight of “supposed to’s.” I knew one was “supposed to” pray for healing in these type of situations so I half-heartedly said these words:
“God, please let the doctors not be able to see anything in the pictures tomorrow.”
Our whole family went to the appointment. I wanted Chris there when we got the news.
I could tell that Cara’s eye had been a topic of conversation at the office. The front desk staff were all hovering around outside of the small room.
They took pictures. And more pictures. And more. Then they said they had to dilate her eyes so the doctor could look at them. Then they took her back to take more pictures.
As they kept taking pictures, the tiny seed of hope that had been planted in my prayer the night before began to take root.
The doctor finally came in, and after looking at the pictures and examining every single section of her eye, said, “There’s nothing there.”
He showed us the two photos side by side … the one a few days ago with ominous looking dark spot on her eye. The one taken that morning with no dark spot. He then showed us all the photos they took that morning, pushing on her eye to show various angles. Still no spot.
Dr. Cutler said they have never had the machine mistakenly show something. He called Dr. Archdale (the head of the practice), who was on vacation, to ask whether he’s ever seen the machine make a mistake like that. He said no.
They tried their best to find what we had all seen a few days before but it wasn’t there. Everyone looked kind of confused.
But I knew the machine hadn’t made a mistake. God had taken that tiny seed of hope and said “yes.”
Sitting in the car afterward, I wanted to take a minute as a family to say thank you to God. I fumbled around, my skepticism not ready to proclaim it a miracle out loud. “God, I don’t know what happened, whether the machine malfunctioned or you heard my prayer, but thank you.”
Then I asked if anyone else wanted to say anything.
My seven-year-old daughter, without hesitation and full of the confidence and faith that only children seem to possess, proclaimed “God, thank you for healing my eye.”