Like any Saturday in June, it was hotter than blue blazes. I stood outside on my tiny screened-in patio, sweat dripping down my back and paintbrush in hand. My grandma’s half-stripped coffee table was right in front of my face as I squatted down to tackle the last of the old speckled stain.
Then, just five minutes in, the unthinkable happened.
When brushing over a corner a little too carelessly, two pea-sized blobs of paint stripper flicked off the brush and straight into my eyes. That’s right – into both eyes. It felt like someone had tucked a pair of little acidic fireballs right under my lower eyelids. I immediately dropped the brush and raced for the kitchen sink.
“It’s in my eyes!” I yelled. “THE PAINT STRIPPER IS IN MY EYES!”
My boyfriend/partner-in-craft rushed around the corner. I dunked my entire head under the sink and ran the water down my cupped hands like two endless waterfalls. All I could think about was going blind and the paralyzing possibility of seeing only darkness for the rest of my life. What kind of future would that be?
“Read the bottle!” I yelled. My long hair kept dipping into the garbage disposal and fishing out old food. “What does it say to do now? Am I going to go blind? Am I going to go blind?”
“It says to always wear eye protection,” he replied unhelpfully at first. “Okay, okay. Rinse eyes thoroughly for ten to fifteen minutes…”
“Seek immediate medical attention.”
“I’m going to be BLIND,” I cried.
I spent those next few minutes submerged in total panic and weirdly deep contemplation. I thought about how God would somehow use my blindness to glorify Him. Isn’t that how we justify our seemingly pointless suffering, after all? I also thought about how much I didn’t want that gift and begged for an exchange.
“Didn’t you ask me if I would love even if you were blind? Last week, right?”
My boyfriend was right. While listening to The Fault in Stars on audiobook, I did in fact ask him if he would love me even if I went blind. But hypotheticals are only fun when they stay hypothetical. I asked out of curiosity, not because I actually planned on going blind.
I kept my head planted firmly under that faucet for ten minutes, until I was too waterlogged to blink. After a mild bout of hysteria I came up. My eyes were puffy and red – from tears or chemicals, I couldn’t tell. After a close inspection, multiple phone calls and several hours of waiting, my eyes returned to normal. Not burned, not blind.
But that doesn’t mean the whole experience didn’t matter. It did.
There are a lot of potential morals to this story – safety first, no one is invincible, love is blind, don’t take things for granted, etc. Those are all fine lessons to learn, but they’re not the most important one.
Whether or not I actually could have been blinded by the amount of paint stripper in my eye is debatable, but I was terrified nonetheless. This was my eyesight, after all. I am now acutely aware of how quickly life can change, and that realization makes me more grateful than ever to serve a God who plans for the unplanned.
While I am so grateful that nothing happened, I know not all situations in life end happily. People do go blind and worse, as unpleasant as it is to think about. Eventually bad things will happen – but when they do, I know I have a God who is always working for my good.
And that’s a future inarguably worth seeing.