I took the thin, flexible piece of plastic and poked at my eye, a routine practice familiar to all contact lens wearers. I've been performing this morning ritual, ie. poking my eye with thin plastic, for over a decade. The process of placing the malleable plastic on the tip of my right hand pointer finger and holding open my eyelids with my left hand has been part of my morning agenda since I was in high school. So adept am I at putting in my contact lenses that I've completed the exercise in the dark, without a mirror. Impressed?
In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit I haven't always been this skilled at contact lens insertion. My first attempt was a dismal failure. I remember the scene well...
It was sixth grade and I was new to the world of corrective lenses. Convinced that I didn't want to be labeled a four eyes, I told the optometrist I wanted contacts. The office staff was happy to escort me to little desk and set me up with a bottle of solution, portable mirror and two little tiny pieces of plastic. Their instructions were vague and did nothing to calm my fears about having to poke my own eyeball. I flinched, dropped numerous lenses and left the doctor's office wearing my glasses and a pair of painfully red bloodshot eyes.
It took years before I would finally conquer my contact lens fears and try again. Thankfully, my second go-around with Acuvue was much more successful. I bucked up, proclaimed courage and confidence and poked my eye with serious determination. That second attempt awarded me a happy ending and my own personal bottle of Opti-Free Contact Solution.
My contact lens success was over a decade ago so you can imagine my surprise when just the other day, upon inserting my trusty pieces of plastic, my eyes began to burn. I blinked, looked in the mirror and saw the same set of eyes that stared at me in my sixth grade optometrist's office. They were bloodshot and pained. I popped the contacts out of my eyes and examined them for rips and tears but both were entirely in tact. I broke out my contact solution and carefully cleaned both lenses before placing them back on my recovering cornea but the moment the plastic hit my eye the burning returned.
Perplexed and in pain I took out the contacts and threw them in the trash like I was passing off a hot potato. Over the years I've dealt with a variety of eye related problems as a result of MS but this one was new. I've had pain, blurred vision and episodes of temporary blindness but never eyes-on-fire, cornea-a-blaze burning. Every unusual, inexplicable eye related symptom has resolved on its own so I didn't think much of putting on my old-school tortuous framed glasses. I shut the drawer on my contact solution with the promise to return again tomorrow.
And return I did. The very next day I opened up a fresh new pair of contact lenses and, without a moment's hesitation, poked my pointer finger into the clear solution. With my right eye lens perfectly positioned on my finger tip I sent my hand towards my eye and, viola, the contact stuck. A second later I had the left lens in place and my vision was clear and bright. Not a single blood vessel in my eye was bloodshot. Not even a single watery tear graced my pain-free eyes.
I will never know why one day my eyes rejected my contacts and the next they accepted them with open arms - and eye - but I know this much: I'd still be stuck in my glasses if I hadn't overcome my fear of failure and tried again.
In life and in contact lenses there will be days of utter failure riddled with so many bumps in the road that I end up in a ditch - wearing glasses. There are bound to be set backs that derail my progress forward. There will be days when one step forward will be followed by five back. I can be assured that in this life I will experience disappointments and failures.
But I can come back again tomorrow.
The failure of my yesterday does not dictate the success of my tomorrow.
Every morning that I wake up, no matter how miserable the prior day's defeat, I open my eyes to a clean slate and a chance to begin again. Each day I can begin anew by releasing the failures of my past and embracing God's promises of future success.
With the dawning of each new day I have the opportunity to put in a new set of lenses and wear a renewed vision for the future that says so long to failure, pain, disappointment, setbacks and bloodshot eyes.
And hello to victory.
Victory in Jesus.