Missing out on the Rain

Jan 12 / Jill Bertelsen
As a 5 year old I found out I had amblyopia, I was almost blind out of my left eye. I wore glasses and an eye patch over my “good” eye so that my “bad” eye would have to work harder. This helped a little as a child, but after 3 years there wasn’t much progress and we decided to stop wearing the patch and to adjust to life.

Cosmetically people could not even tell, my eyes looked normal and I grew up playing soccer and being a pretty good student. When I was 17, my best friend had dyslexia and was going to vision therapy. I had never heard of vision therapy and she explained that they not only strengthen your eyes, but they teach your eyes to work together.

This was different than anything I had previously done or heard of. After much thought, my parents took me in to get tested. I found out that I did not have depth perception and a reading comprehension level of a 3rd grader. I didn’t believe it because I played soccer and I thought I had depth perception. But we decided to do vision therapy to improve my reading and to strengthen my lazy eye.

Vision therapy is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I would go for almost an hour and do different exercises for my eyes. I would leave with really bad headaches and often would have to just sit in the waiting room for an hour before driving home to allow myself to be okay. After months and months of vision therapy nothing too special was happening. It was discouraging to put in all this work and receive no immediate benefit.

I remember one day I was running outside with my best friend to train for our senior year of soccer. It started to rain. Suddenly something switched for like 30 seconds. The rain drops went from flat to round. The world just felt so spacious and my brain did not know how to handle it, I fell over and began to cry because it hurt so bad. It is hard to explain, but it is like seeing rain in a movie versus being in the middle of the rain drops around you. Before it was like it was flat like when you watch something through a screen, but now it round and there is a space between each individual drop.

I called my vision therapist and explained what happened. He said, that’s it! That is depth perception! If this was depth perception I thought to myself, I don’t want it. He explained that the first time it will hurt and feel different but that I had to build up stamina. It was not going to just happen overnight. But now I knew what I was working towards and I realized, I was missing something.

For months to come I would get glimpses of depth. From 1-2 times a week, to 1-2 times a day, and then to longer stretches. Each time it felt more and more comfortable. I had to relearn how to do a few things because everything was shifted to be just a little bit different. I ran into doorways, had to relearn how to catch things when thrown to me, and had to learn to play soccer with this new adjustment.

Often we are so focused on the little goals that we want to set and what we want to accomplish that we don’t see the bigger picture. We need to have a big picture of who we are and then set goals to accomplish the vision. When I was going to vision therapy, I did not think I needed it, and so I was not accomplishing much. But once I knew what I was looking for and my potential of what I could see, it changed my entire perspective on coming to therapy. I came to work!

It’s already January 13th. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February. That is only a month away. How are you doing on your new year's goals? Do you need to adjust them to be more realistic?

Now, years later, I can’t believe that I thought I saw okay. Sink faucets pop out, driving is way easier (and probably safer for everyone), and I can enjoy small details that are all around me. A whole new way of life has been opened to me forever.

A big part of creating goals is kneeling down and asking God, what do I lack? He sees the entire picture and knows what we can become. We can sit down and write down what we want to be at the end of our life and then choose a few attributes to focus on. This helps us to be patient with ourselves when we make mistakes because we are seeing the upward progression instead of in the moment failures.

It is humbling to sit down and to realize what you are lacking. You could ask a trusted family member or a friend to tell you honestly something that you could improve on. This may be difficult and painful to have someone tell you that you need to step it up. But if you never do, you could be missing out on the rain.