Change: Like it or not, it’s a matter of attitude

By Curtis K. Shelburne: CNJ columnist

It finally happened. Last Friday at 1:47 p.m. Something I’ve been dreading for ten years or so.

I finally hit the optometric wall. Bifocals.

Every time I’d see the guy, once every year or two or whenever his nurse would strong-arm me into coming in for an actual appointment by refusing to get me more prescriptions for contacts without my actually seeing the man (he’s a great guy; she’s tough as nails and thinks of contact prescriptions as pretty much the same as prescriptions for morphine), I’d been asking my eye guy how many good years I had left. And he usually said something like, “Several.”

Not this time, 48 years old, and it’s over.

I knew it was coming. I spent a good part of the last year playing carpenter, and I was surprised to find myself inserting screws by Braille. I could still read the fine print. It just took longer — and a lot more light. And, this is the humiliating part: it was a lot easier when I’d sneak around and steal a pair of my wife’s reading glasses.

Until a couple of years ago when she hit the wall herself, my wife had never needed glasses at all. She still doesn’t, except for the close-up stuff. You’d think the glasses she bought Friday would be cheaper because the top half of them is just clear glass. You’d be wrong. I thought maybe we should buy just one eye’s worth and pay out the rest on time. Yes, her husband has for a couple of years been making fun of his bifocalled bride — rather unmercifully, I’m afraid.

Now I’m much more humble. And the least evil, it seemed to me, of the three relatively bad choices my doc offered me, is what he called “monovision” contacts, which so far means that I get to see half the world clearly. He says to give it ten days before I vote on it. Maybe by that time you get so frustrated that you poke out one eye, thus “monovision.”

I have neither the time nor the patience for this complication. And the response to that last statement should be exactly the kind of thing a judge might say looking over her reading glasses at a fellow making excuses for running a stop sign: “Interesting, but irrelevant.” This is the situation, Bud. Deal with it.

Change. It’s the definition of stress. When I think of the changes that some folks I love have had to make recently, I realize that I need to quit whining. But I doubt I will.

And that last rather cynical statement reminds me that I need to be reminded often — it’s not just the world and situation around us changing. No, we are ourselves changing.

Every day by the decisions we make and — here, I’m afraid, is the big factor — the attitudes we allow ourselves to adopt, we’re being changed. The fact is that we’re becoming each day more like the God — or god — we serve. We’re being molded into creatures fit for Heaven, or creatures who choose for Hell. And the God of the universe pays us the wonderful — or quite fearful — compliment of letting us choose. Choose wisely.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at