"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
October 2, 2012
Of Eyes and True Sight
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

A few years ago, while in the shower, I got a strong impression to call an eye doctor. Inspiration can come at the strangest times — or maybe it’s one of the good things that come with having a few minutes alone, in peaceful silence.

So, after getting dressed, off to the computer I went, to find an optometrist. After checking the eye pressures, and rechecking, his blood pressure shot up. He sent me off to an ophthalmologist.

Jump forward four years, four eye surgeries and hundreds of office visits later. I’ve learned a few profound things — things, had you asked me earlier in life, that I’d never have wanted to learn. But lessons that have brought a great deal of goodness to my life.

Here are a few of them:

1. We never know what a day will bring.

We hear this all the time.  But it doesn’t hit home until — it hits home. This often occurs when something happens that tilts our world as we’ve known it, or turns it upside down.

One thing I’ve grown to “see” the need for is this: Make the most of every single day. Keep the eyes wide open, so as not to miss any of the tiny little gifts that come when the sun comes up.

Every day, opening my eyes, I take note of things around me. They are the same things I always see. Which is a good thing. It means the eye lights haven’t gone out yet.

Then, I wander around and take note: peeking out the window (with sunglasses on) to see the morning sun; seeing the dog running around in the grass; admiring my herbs growing just outside the back window; enjoying my surroundings. Since I can’t see dust very well these days, it’s an even more enjoyable experience to walk through my house.

In the blink of an eye, things can change. I don’t want to take one bit of my life for granted, to feel like I’ve missed all the little things that turn out to be — in the end — the big things, or failed to see all that is placed in my purview. It’s all a big ol’ blessing. If I’m not careful, I’ll miss it.

2.  Good sight is not needed in order to see clearly.

As the eyes dim, physically, the spiritual compensation seems to strengthen. “I once was blind, but now I see” (from the beautiful hymn “Amazing Grace”) are powerful words. Now, they speak to me personally, in ways I never imagined before.

During this eyesight loss, the ability to see more clearly in the Spirit continues to grow. Not that I’m where I wish to be, but I’m finally beginning to understand that the things that are most real are the things that cannot be seen with the temporal eyes. Every day brings another moment of clarity.

Good sight is not needed in order to notice someone who needs prayers, a hug, some simple gesture of recognition or acceptance.  We can clearly see the things that matter most — the ways that we can help or bless — regardless of eyesight.

Because these things are seen with the heart.  Right?

3.  Even with really good doctors, faith in the Master Healer is the most important.

Jesus Christ knows how I feel after a bad office visit. The ones where I receive less than stellar news. It happens lots. I’m aware that He is aware. It makes a big difference and gives me the oomph to go to the next visit full of hope for a better report. 

Despite what medical science says or what tests reveal, there is One who can heal the lame and give sight to the blind. Whether or not my physical sight remains during my entire mortal journey will be up to the will of God. I’ll fight for it, though. And keep my faith in the Savior, who — if I have the faith, and it is fitting in God’s sight — may preserve what is left in the vision field.  Awesome!

“But if not.…” Those are words from the scriptures I take to heart. My most important job is to truly trust the Master Healer, and to accept what the Lord places on my plate. They know what I need more than I do. A good thing for me to remember when there’s an incoming missile of life.

4.  “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

This line of lyrics is from an older Christian hymn that I love.  It was one of my mom’s favorites. A couple of years after she died, I was diagnosed with a cancerous lung mass. I sat in my recliner one morning, seeking comfort (physically and spiritually), missing my mom terribly, and staring at a little bird on a tree limb. 

The doorbell rang, and I answered it to see a sweet neighbor standing there. She held a glass sparrow in her hand. There was a tender story attached to that figurine. It brought me comfort I needed, and flooded me with the sense that I was genuinely being watched over. She was the answer to a prayer I hadn’t even formally uttered. But He was watching, and knew what I needed.

Many times since that morning, when difficult things have come, there has been the sweet knowing that a loving and watchful Eye is on me. So, as long as He sees perfectly, it isn’t so important that my eyes see perfectly!  He’s watching. Always.

5. Profound experiences help me gain profound gratitude.

Trust me when I say that the ability to see colors, sunrises or sunsets, my family’s faces, and (although blurry) television, is a huge blessing. I don’t take for granted this precious sense of sight. Too bad I didn’t realize what I had when I had it.

Getting to this point has been a sometimes heavy journey, with profoundly tough moments, but with profound and vivid blessings. Is it that I work harder to see things, or is it that I better appreciate those things I’m able to see?

I’ve always loved the mountains, the rivers and oceans, flowers, smiles. But now — now, I have a profound thankfulness for being able to see them.  Maybe not so clearly as I once did, but definitely with more gratitude and admiration. 

Where I once took for granted the ability to read as much as I desired, or to easily distinguish objects at a distance (which distance may be only 15 feet, by the way), I look (pun intended) forward to the day when I can once again see as I used to.

It will most likely be at the time of resurrection. Sight is one more thing to look forward to regaining at that time!  And meanwhile, how grateful I am for the gift of sight!

I feel gratitude for those things I see with my temporal eyes, and — more importantly — those I see with my soul. In truth, the things seen with the soul seem much more filled with goodness.

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About Vickey Pahnke Taylor

Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, teacher, author, and songwriter. Her undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in interpersonal communications.

A Billboard award-winning songwriter with hundreds of songs to her credit, she uses music as a teaching tool. But her favorite way to use music has been to sing to her children. You should hear the family's rousing versions of "Happy Birthday"!

In addition to three solo albums in the LDS market, she co-wrote "Women at the Well" with Kenneth Cope and "My Beloved Christ: with Randy Kartchner. She is co-writer of the theme song for Utah's Make-A-Wish foundation, the song for the Special Olympics program, and EFY's theme song.

She writes for several online magazines and columns, and has authored several books. Her website, www.goodnessmatters.com, is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, pointing people gently toward Christ and eternal principles of truth.

She has spoken for the Church's various Youth and Family programs for 25 years. She and her husband Dean have eight children and four grandchildren. She adores being a wife, mom and grandmother. She loves flowers, brownies, cooking Italian and Southern foods, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets.

Vickey was baptized a member of the Church as a teenager in Virginia. She serves as gospel doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves on their stake high council.

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