I’m cheap, and adversity doesn’t scare me. This means that I often choose dollars over comfort and convenience – a tendency that drives my wife nuts in a number of areas, like kitchen appliances. My coffee maker has been threatening to quit for nearly a year now, but I refuse to buy another one until this one has sputtered its last drop, and I still miss the dishwasher my wife replaced last year after she made an impassioned plea that included images of flooded floors.
Sometimes though, I accept imperfections that affect the quality of my life, when I don’t need to. This tendency is likely the result of dealing with less-than-ideal physical circumstances for a very long time. Living with a disability has conditioned me to focus on things within my control and to shrug off things that aren’t. Occasionally, I underestimate the control I have over the things I shrug off.
I recently saw a glaring example of this. For years, while the rest of my body was a deductible waiting to happen, I had tremendously healthy eyes and teeth. It has been a very long time since I’ve had anything other than a check-up at the dentist, and until just recently, my visits to the optometrist always culminated in reassurances that everything was working correctly.
I knew that I wasn’t seeing as clearly as I should, but I’m in my mid-40s, and those older than me consistently tell me that weaker vision is part of the aging process, so I shrugged off my failing vision as just another inconvenience to which I would need to adapt. As my eyes worsened, my glasses got in the way at least much as they helped. At first, I couldn’t read the newspaper while wearing glasses. Then, I couldn’t read the television screen or scoreboards at sporting events. My glasses rode on the top of my head as much as they did the bridge of my nose. I figured that was my future, but my wife pressed the issue, as she usually does, and convinced me to see the optometrist.
My last eyeglass prescription was just two and a half years ago, and before that, I was able to go nearly ten years without changing the prescription. It just didn’t feel right, but I also knew that my vision was becoming an increasing inconvenience, so I relented and agreed to the appointment. A week or so later, when I looked through the new lenses for the first time, it was like someone shined a bright spotlight on everything I had been missing. I went hunting a few days later, and saw turkeys that others could only see through binoculars. I realized, in dramatic fashion, that I had been needlessly denying myself a better, crisper view of the world.
How often do we do the same thing with other facets of our lives? Do we accept and excuse negative attitudes from ourselves and those around us, when we could be trying to spread optimism? Do we let coworkers, managers, friends, family or spouses treat us in disrespectful or demeaning ways? Do we accept less from ourselves than we should? Do we miss the chance to say: I should be doing better, and I deserve better?
It cost me less than $200 and a lunch hour to start seeing the world and all of its bright, vibrant potential, the way God intended. What would it cost you to improve your view?