Blindsided

Twenty five years ago, I was attacked in the middle of the night; I was hit hard with a sudden, intense pain in my head that was so bad, it felt like my head had been split open with an axe. This pain was frigidly cold and scorchingly hot simultaneously. My head felt huge, like it was two feet in diameter. I jumped out of bed and in the dark dialed my pastor who lived a thousand miles away. By the time he answered the phone, I was pouring buckets of sweat, and for ten excruciating hours he prayed with me over the phone. At some point he had another pastor join in. The only thing I could say was “Jesus, You promised!”

Just a few months prior to this episode, during the time when I had lost the will to live, the Lord had spoken to me, and His last words to me were, “…and there will be no more laying down and dying.” This is why I kept reminding Him, “Jesus, You promised!”

Paralysis struck me starting just below my left collarbone, and for those first five, grueling hours, it moved as slowly as a sloth up and over my head like the hour hand of a clock until it reached just below my right collarbone not that far away from my heart. (Later, the doctor told me that, had it reached my heart, I would have died.) As both pastors kept praying for me, the paralysis began to v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y reverse itself, and by the end of those 10 hours, had finally stopped just at the side of my nose, underneath my left eye. My hand could feel the side of my face, but my face couldn’t feel my hand. It took eight months for that side of my head to regain all feeling.

After this ordeal, my pastor contacted two of my friends who came over to help. Because I could not walk, they contacted a third friend who came over and carried me out to her vehicle. She drove me to the hospital and carried me inside. I was in the hospital for a week. While there, I was given IV’s to re-hydrate and nothing else. Except for my blood pressure, not a single other test was taken.

One of my sisters came to visit me on my second day at the hospital. The moment she saw me, she stopped dead in her tracks, grabbed her chest and with a horrified look on her face said, “Oh, ChloeGrace, you can’t afford to be caught dead looking like this!” Remembering her words always makes me laugh, but at the time she said it, I felt my spirit leap out and GRAB HOLD of the words, “You can’t afford to be caught dead.” I thought to myself, “Oh! I was right! It is as bad as I thought. I will NOT die.” It wasn’t until the third day that I was able to get up and walk, and as I passed a mirror, I too was so shocked. My skin was totally gray from head to toe. I HAD been at death’s door.

The first time I tried to write after I had returned home, I found that I could only HOLD a pen limply in my hand, but that was all. I couldn’t write; I couldn’t make my hand grip the pen and write. It was a full year before I regained that ability. Until then, my sister wrote for me. When at last I could again write, my handwriting, which used to be beautiful, looked like chicken scratch and still does today.

At first I didn’t even realize that I was also totally blind in my right eye. I find it extremely odd that for eight months I had no idea. Instead, I kept thinking my hair was in the way and would habitually flick it aside all day long. Then, one day, it shocked me the moment I realized that my hair was not the issue.

You see, there WAS no hair to flick because, just two days prior to that 10-hour attack, a friend had literally given me the “haircut from hell”. I’d been practically shorn except for three randomly-located bald spots and a three-inch-long mohawk on the back-half of the top of my head. It was so hideous, I cried for two days. Once I was well enough to be taken by a friend to get groceries, I rode through town with a newspaper open to shield my face from view.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, the attack had left me with a chicken-egg-sized bald spot above my left eye as bare and smooth as a cue ball, and it also somehow significantly slowed the growth rate of all my hair; two years after that attack, my hair was still far too short even for a trim, and that bald spot remained for more than a decade.

Five years later, my left eye began to gradually go blind as well. Because I’d recently lost everything through a divorce, I had no insurance, and hardly any money. I also had no job or car, yet people kept telling me that I needed to ‘do’ something. People were saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” and, “He gave us a mind, and He expects us to use it.” I was continually being pressured to have surgery, but I didn’t want to do anything at all until I knew what the LORD wanted me to do. Should I trust Him alone with my eyes or have surgery even though I could not afford it? I went through a three month process seeking Him for His will, standing on this verse He gave me:

Proverbs 16:3 “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”

I was living with one of my sisters at the time, and when the Lord would give me a phrase of scripture, she would look it up and read to me the entire verse in context. One of the verses He gave me was, “…He rescues the poor and needy, and him who hath no helper.” Yes, He gave us a mind to use, but He never intended us to use it apart from Himself. I went through days in a kind of agony over their pressure until He gave me a revelation one day, and I burst out with, “I AM doing something! I’m trusting YOU!” At the end of three months, He brought me to the place where I lifted my hands to Him and told Him He was in charge of my eyes/eyesight and no one else. I gave it all to Him and immediately felt relieved and at peace.

I did, however, give in to having my eyes checked by an eye doctor. My dad paid for the exam. After the doctor examined them he said with such gentle sadness, “I hate to have to tell you this, but you will be completely blind within eighteen months, and the pain will be so bad that we’ll have to remove your eyes.” I looked at him and said, “Well, the Lord has been taking care of me all of my life, so He’ll bring me through this, too.” He was the kindest doctor I’d ever had, and as we left his office, I told him, “Thank you.” As I walked past him, he spoke so softly, I almost didn’t hear him say, “No. Thank you.”

Not long after the exam, an offer came to pay for my surgery. Suddenly, I had a new dilemma: had I heard Him wrong? Was I acting in presumption instead of by faith by not accepting the offer?

I wrestled in prayer for many days, standing continually on Proverbs 16:3. Then, one night, the Lord gave me His answer. I dreamed that I was a large bell, like the Liberty bell, and as the clapper, which is the tongue of the bell, swung back and forth inside me, I could literately feel its words banging against my sides. It spoke so LOUDLY that it woke me instantly. The words it spoke were, “For it is GOD which worketh in you both TO WILL and TO DO of His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13 NEVER had I thought of this verse on my own in all the years I’d known Him, almost thirty years at that time.

At last I ‘knew’ that entrusting my eyes to Him WAS His will. He could heal me when He wanted, or not, but I was not going to accept that kind offer of help. Knowing this gave me a solidity in my heart that was never moved again by the opinions of man or from having a hard day because of not being able to see, or even by the stabbing pain. For, just as the doctor had said would happen, pain would often shoot through my eyes so badly that it felt like they’d been speared completely through. Yet, each time, in response I would burst out with, “Oh, no, you don’t!! You get out of here in Jesus’ name!!” and the pain would instantly be gone. My sister said to me once that “It seems that every negative thing coming against you only makes you more resolute to trust the Lord.”

Because of my blindness, I was totally dependent on the help of others for three years. During all that time I felt completely vulnerable, yet never had I a moment of fear, ever. I knew He would take care of me no matter what happened, that my life was His.

Still, one of the hardest things about being blind for me was if anyone used something of mine and didn’t put it back in the exact spot I’d left it. I’d instantly burst into tears because I couldn’t find it, usually when I was home alone. I also hated that horrible feeling when stepping down stairs or the curb of a sidewalk; Those few inches to the ground felt as if they were many feet downward. I also don’t like how people treat you differently when you’re blind: either they talk down to you as if you’re a child, or slowly as if you’re stupid, or yell at you as if you’re stone deaf. Once, I was talked to as if I was all three combined. I walked away feeling like I’d been steamrolled completely flat.

Once, in a room full of people, I could hear myself being talked about. I heard a woman whisper, “I think she’s blind.” I thought, “Yes, but I can hear very well.” Once, I almost fell down a flight of stairs but was pulled back just in time. Once, I was walked face first into a wall. Such is being blind.

But the Lord had moments of pure beauty and joy for me too. I didn’t go out much anymore, and once, in the wee hours of the night in the dead of winter, as I stood alone in the kitchen, I whispered quietly, not in sorrow but seriously wondering, “Does anybody out there even know I’m alive?” Instantly, I heard a bird outside the window begin to sing!?! It sang for what seemed like two minutes in the freezing darkness. It sounded like a full orchestra. It sang merrily in trills, dips, and swirls of music, like nothing I’d ever heard before. I had tears rolling slowly down my face the whole time, saying over and over, “Thank You, Jesus.” HE knew I was alive. 😀 Six months later on a summer afternoon, while feeling defeated and helpless, that same “bird” sang to me again as I sat in a deck chair on the porch. It gave me such joy. I have often wondered if it might have been an angel whistling.

For eight years, I experienced total blackness in my right eye, but in the three years of blindness in my left eye, though there was deep blackness all around the outside, in the center, I could see a pattern in the shape of a figure eight. It was a deep forest green, my favorite color. In addition, all around the outside of this figure eight were rows upon rows of square boxes, hundreds of them. The outline of each box was a thick, flat, black color, like a bold newspaper headline, yet the inside of each box was pure white. The pattern was always there; night or day or closing my eyes made no difference at all. I got so sick of it, there were days I wanted to r-i-p that pattern right out of my eyes. The only time I could get away from it was in sleep.

Odder still, on occasion, dozens of random, black letters would appear inside each box for about a day or so. These letters made no sense at all as though a chicken had pecked on a typewriter. Because there was no escape, seeing these meaningless letters without end would sometimes drive me to the point of wanting to scream. One day, however, smack dab in the center of every single box of jumbled up, meaningless letters, the same pattern of letters appeared. It was a full sentence that I could actually read. The sentence was, “HE TOUCHED ME.” For the next eight hours, I read that sentence in each and every box as Holy Ghost worked on my back. How cool IS He??

During my three years of blindness, I lived with one of my sisters, then with another, and finally with my son, each located in a different state. I started calling myself “Jesus’ tumbling tumbleweed” because I moved so often.

When living with my second sister, I would be home alone with only the Lord whenever she was at work. He and I had such good times together. I don’t miss being blind, but I DO miss those days of being just with Him. I was never lonesome. In one of my times of prayer, as I prayed in the Spirit, it sounded like I was trying to say something I could understand, but that day it didn’t come clear enough for me to recognize the words. The next day, though, as I prayed I was back in that same place again in prayer when suddenly the words I’d been saying the day before came clearly out of my mouth, and I found myself saying with great joy, “I can see! I can see! I can see!” and within six months of that prayer I could see again.

Not long after I had spoken those words, my son called and said he and his family wanted me to come live with them, and he drove a thousand miles to get me. I was with them for about a month when a good friend of mine called, wanting me to come spend the weekend with her and to also go to a women’s meeting at church. A woman unknown to me was coming to minister who the Lord was using in a healing ministry. I went thinking I would be back at my son’s in two days. I ended up staying at my friend’s for a year. This woman minister prayed for me in the first meeting. The next day, she told me that she’d been praying for me and that the Lord had told her the reason satan had attacked my sight was because, “She has such a deep desire in her heart to know Me.” “So”, she said, “I have written your name in my bible and will pray for you daily until you get your sight back.”

During this first weekend at my friend’s, though I never initiated any of this, suddenly I was meeting with an eye doctor to discuss having surgery. Long story short, I had very expensive surgeries done on each eye, and I never had to pay a single penny for them. The doctor had 30 years experience with these surgeries. He told me that my right eye was the worst he’d ever seen, but that he would do his very best for me. He also loved the Lord, and during each surgery he had worship music playing for me. During the surgery on my right eye, I was brought back to consciousness so he could talk to me. I heard another doctor tell him, “Ohh, that is bad. I don’t think you can fix that.” My doctor told him, “I’m going to try as hard as I can anyway.” Later, he again brought me to consciousness and said to me, “ChloeGrace, I got it.” I smiled and said, “Praise God!” and went back under.

I went from total blindness to having 20/20 vision in my left eye and 20/25 in my right. The pattern was GONE, and the day the bandages came off and the color began to flow through my eyes, oh, the vivid richness of the colors!! I’ll never forget that. The Lord is SO GOOD!!!

All of this to say, I thought the Lord would heal me instantly, but He had other plans and healed me through surgery. This healing came straight from the Lord, but He did it in such a way that He used many people to become part of His story. It is a story just as miraculous as an instant healing, but … 🎶 “He did it His way.” 🎶 I was just along for the ride. 😀