The following is the first of three installments of what I like to call, “second-hand bananas.” This particular trilogy of second-hand stories were written by my mom, Monica Burney.
Last fall, I was stuffing yard debris into our large recycle bin, after pruning in our backyard all afternoon. While grabbing a pile of twigs and branches, I encountered a handful that was twisted and tangled in the heaping pile. As I tried to shake things loose, it felt like some of them were glued together. Despite several attempts to free the branches, it seemed impossible to separate them. Just before I was about to give up & go get the pruning shears to cut through the tangled mess, I decided to give it one more abrupt shake. Just then, things broke loose, but in the process, just like a long, menacing whip in the hands of a crazy person, it came flying out at me—right up into the left side of my face and into my eye. The pain was instant and excruciating.
After shrieking loudly, instinctively, I immediately held my hand up over my eye in protective mode. In shock, I stood there for a minute, my eye tearing up and me blinking uncontrollably. I then ran into the house and into the bathroom to start calming the affected area, by first splashing cold water in my eye, then putting a cold, wet rag over it. I then dashed to the kitchen and got an ice pack prepared to numb the pain and try to minimize the swelling I could already feel starting to occur.
That night, I lay awake with the ice pack on my eye, vacillating between whether to go to the ER (I was especially concerned the trauma to my eye might have caused long-lasting damage to my vision) or “toughing it out”—thinking I need to be brave and give it until morning to see if the pain would subside or not. Lying there, all those many hours, I asked God to ease the pain, but more importantly, I prayed my vision would not be affected. I also thanked Him it wasn’t worse. There was no blood involved. Thoughts of worse case scenario were averted. It brought to mind a conversation with someone, long ago, about what they had witnessed between two teens in a wet towel fight. One of them had lost their sight in one eye as a result of them just clowning around.
By morning, the pain was still very severe, yet I kept thinking of what a low tolerance for pain I have always had and how I would never develop a higher tolerance if I didn’t practice the John Wayne “gritting and bearing it” approach. I decided I’d give it a little more time.
A week later, I could still clearly see and feel the effects of the accident. Two weeks later, I still entertained thoughts of going to the doctor and having my vision checked. I never did. Over these many months since, it still has throbbed occasionally and is tender to the touch.
Aside from the obvious greater miracle that I very easily could’ve lost my vision in that eye and didn’t, is the miraculous reality I actually incurred a permanent scar on the side of my face (resembling a raised vein), but due to the location on the contour of the side of my face, it is not obvious. In fact, it is so subtle, I had to point it out to my husband months later, before he actually noticed it. Once he did see it though, he was amazed, like me, it was clearly seen, yet at the same time, not blatantly noticeable. I could have been greatly disfigured, but wasn’t.
The scar has become a part of me. I can’t change it and I don’t dwell on it either. But I am thankful for it, as it is a gentle, loving reminder of God’s graciousness and mercy to me. He doesn’t cause pain, but He does allow painful events into our lives to teach us to trust Him in all things and to be grateful in all circumstances.
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thessalonians 5:18