A couple days before Ava’s MRI, I got a fortune cookie that read, “You will soon witness a miracle.” Read more about our story. I smiled to myself. I couldn’t wait for my husband to get home so I could share my good fortune! What could be better than a miracle? When faced with a difficult situation, we want to snap our fingers and make it disappear. We don’t want to put in the effort required to reflect, change, and deal with deal with reality. We don’t want to go through the pain of personal growth and transformation.
On the morning of Ava’s MRI, I got up at 5:00 a.m. and put her in the van. She woke up and wouldn’t fall back to sleep. Thankfully, with all the distraction and excitement, she wasn’t too upset about not getting to eat. It was a long morning, but everything worked out fine, and her results came back normal. Was that the miracle? Hardly. All this means is that the girls have congenital nystagmus, with no known cause.
The next week we had a follow-up appointment with our pediatric eye doctor. He gave them a quick glance and said to come back in a year. I was shocked. Was that it? Was there nothing else we could do? When we reminded him that she also has a lazy eye, he said we should come back in a couple months. By that point, Ava will be 11 months and will still not have received any intervention for her eyes.
I wanted to know, should I wait and be patient or pursue an alternative course of action. I posted a question to this effect in the American Nystagmus Network on Facebook and received a mixed response. Many parents accept what they’ve been told, that there is little they can do. However, one mother’s response was very different from the others. She was an evangelist for early intervention. By 11 months old, her daughter had already had her first of four surgeries. They flew her around the country to follow the leading specialists in treating Nystagmus. She shared her daughter’s story of healing and encouraged me to do the same.
Her willingness to take action triggered something inside me. I suddenly had a flash back to the lessons I learned in my own journey to find healing nearly three and a half years ago. My husband and I wanted to start trying to have children, but it was clear from the start that there was a problem. When I finally went in to get tested, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is really just a fancy way to say what I already knew: I couldn’t ovulate. I was faced with the same decision I’m wrestling with today. Did I want to wait it out and be patient or actively pursue treatment?
In this case, I chose to push the diagnoses aside, like it was no big deal, and to “have faith” instead. The last thing I wanted to be was an infertility patient. I’m comfortable being vulnerable, but not feeling desperate. I let a full year pass without seeking help. I would have continued on with life as usual if a friend had not questioned my views on faith.
We were discussing the Story of God and whether or not we believe that God is sovereign. As a good Dutch Reformed girl, God’s sovereignty has always been a given. Up to this point, this core belief had never been challenged. I spoke up and shared my diagnosis and struggle to conceive. I ended my story by saying, “…but I know God’s in control and has a plan.”
To my shock and dismay, my friend disagreed. I don’t remember his reasoning, but his words echoed in my head. What exactly did he mean? The more I wrestled with it, the more I realized that maybe I was supposed to stop waiting around for something to happen to me and start playing an active role in God’s plan. For the first time, I actually did some research on PCOS. I found out that people with PCOS have problems with insulin-resistance and that, even though I may be thin, I have a crappy, sugar-filled diet.
I went on a 30 minute walk to wrestle with the idea of changing my diet. Until this point in my life, I had never (and I mean ever) attempted to monitor my diet. I tuned out whenever my friends started talking about kale or quinoa. I thought of a salad as fruit with cool whip or pasta with mayo. I had to literally mourn the loss of my old diet before I could commit to something new. But after that walk, I stopped drinking and cut out all sugar. It’s as if the scales were lifted from my eyes. For the first time, I saw a whole new sections of food in the grocery store I didn’t even know existed.
Exactly 30 days later, my body responded. A couple weeks later, I ovulated for the first time in over a year. That night, I read the following verse, “The Lord says, ‘I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but I one was looking for me. I said, “Here I am, here I am!” To a nation that did not call on my name.’” That night, I allowed myself to feel broken and needy. I decided I was willing to ask for help. The next day, I set an appointment to start fertility treatment. At my first appointment, I found out that no treatment was necessary. I was already pregnant with our first child! So I ask again, what’s better than witnessing a miracle? For me, it was getting to be a part the process!
For times like these, it has become popular to make a “blessings jar” in order for people to record and remember the blessings they have received. I do have directions for a blessings jar, but it isn’t the kind you decorate with ribbons and bows. In fact, it’s not an object; it’s three simple verbs. It requires that we Join, Attend, and get in a posture to Receive. When I was ready to actively submit rather than suppress, I became the jar in the potter’s hands. I opened myself to the possibility of personal transformation and spiritual blessing.
While my current struggle may have a different name, the lessons are the same. Many people continue to believe there is no cure for Nystagmus, but these videos tell a very different story. The only problem is that this procedure has only ever been performed on patients with horizontal Nystagmus, and my girls’ eyes move up and down. I accept if it’s determined that there is nothing anyone can do, but I believe I’m called to take a step forward on a journey toward healing. I’ve decided that I want to be active, not passive in my faith. I hope you will be so kind as to join me on this journey.
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