In The Blink of an Eye: The Health Scare That Changed My Life
September 2016 reset the course for the rest of my life. I was attending a Singles Conference at Dr. Tony Evans’ church in Texas. Service started and I was excited. I was with friends ready to learn and encounter God with an open heart, but as worship started, my whole world changed. With one blink, my vision suddenly became blurry. I couldn’t read the screens for lyrics clearly and my eye sight appeared to be fading. I chalked it up to being tired and a long day of traveling, but it seemed to take a turn for the worse. My stomach felt nauseous, I couldn’t eat much, and my head was throbbing with pain. I attempted to take Ibuprofen, but it didn’t help. I went to sleep and woke up to the same pain the next morning.
I had never felt this type of pain before. All I wanted to do was sit in the dark, sleep, and not be bothered. I will admit I got nervous and worried, but I also knew that once I got back to Arkansas, I had work to do.
When I returned home after the conference, I still had vision, but it was blurry. I started scheduling appointments and began the process of running test to see what was happening with my eyes. By the end of the week, I had been scheduled for about five to six different appointments, including a walk-in clinic, PCP, Eye Doctor, MRI and a Lumbar Puncture procedure. I was also scheduled to see a Neuro-Ophthalmologist, a specialist for what was discovered to be the cause of everything going on with me. I was soon diagnosed with a rare condition called pseudotumor (fake tumor) or papilledema.
I had never heard of this condition before. It causes swelling in the skull and puts fluid pressure on the optic disk, causing blood vessels in the eyes to swell. It has no real known cause other than too much weight or fluid on the body.
I used to be embarrassed in sharing this part of my story, about how my body couldn’t handle the pressure or weight anymore. My body was telling me that I wasn’t doing a good job of taking care of my temple. While I’ve always struggled with my weight, it had affected me not just physically but mentally. It trapped me in my own thoughts and stagnated me spiritually.
Upon my first visit with my specialist, I learned more about what it would take to fully recover from this condition. My options were limited: surgery or serious weight loss. 96% of treatment for this condition is weight loss, taking water pills and getting the fluid and pressure off my body. I told the doctor I would work toward losing the weight.
After coming to the realization of what needed to be done to regain control over my body physically, I quickly got a grip on things and I began to also lean on my biblical principles to rebuild broken pieces that God revealed he wanted to heal within me. I knew God wanted to take this situation that seemed so horrible and turn it around for my good. I knew that it was the will of God for me to be healed on multiple levels.
Each day that I chose to go for a walk, go to the gym, or eat appropriate portions, God was healing me mentally by changing the negative personality traits that I had adopted to be mine, but were never representative of the God in me. Things such as fear, rejection, comparison, embarrassment, shame, guilt, and not feeling worthy started to fall away and are still falling away the more I present everything back to God when they rise up.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Each day I choose to better myself by the choices I make for self-improvement, God grows me in another area spiritually. I’ve noticed in this journey a significant correlation in my physical and spiritual sight, and it’s been the spiritual awakening in my spiritual sight. At times while leading worship He gives me glimpses or allows me to experience Him in a new way either in private or corporate worship and often times, I get to share that with others to help build up the Body of Christ.
I won’t say that this has been an easy road, but I will say that God has walked with me every step of the way leading me to a series of victories.
I remember my vision getting so bad that I couldn’t read things on the computer screen at a normal 12-point font. I would enlarge scriptures about healing and victory. I printed them out, placed them on the walls of my home and declared accelerated healing over my eyes. I believed God for this healing and knew he could do it immediately, but God told me that I had to go through the process. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted it right then and there but as I reflect back, I see the importance of the process. He had things He wanted to teach me. I began to walk from a place of brokenness to a place of healing and victory. Two months into my treatment, I was able to go from needing a brain or lumbar shunt permanently to being given permission to drive again. My specialist said she had never seen anyone recover this fast. I could only accredit this to God and since my initial diagnosis, I've lost 70 lbs.
Walking through this journey, I am completely convinced that when you care for yourself physically and you develop discipline, you also undergo transformation mentally. When mental transformation happens, you unlock your spirit to break free from things that hold you captive here on earth. When you unlock your spirit there is an awakening that happens to be attached to your Kingdom purpose. God wants to propel us into our purpose in life and for me there were some things I needed to tend to and still have to maintain daily.
Within four months, a prayer that I prayed three years prior to all of this happening was answered. A new level was unlocked. I desired to be a worship leader and not just to worship in one type of setting but to be in a church that desired to be multicultural. Through this process, that opportunity was presented to me. I believe this process of reclaiming my health helped set me up for spiritual health and kingdom acceleration. I currently serve as Worship Leader/Pastor at Grace Church, a church that is working to break down racial division and desires to become a multi-ethnic/cultural church. Since being in this position I have connected with other worship leaders and I am part of the most beautiful community of friends. We all seek to grow and accelerate in our kingdom purpose. I have also been afforded the opportunity to share my gift of worship on multiple platforms.
I believe God wants us to be good stewards of our bodies, managers of our temples and protect the gifts within. When we apply discipline in areas we are slacking in, it transforms us in ways that can help catapult us into who we are destined to be. It’s so nice to be operating the way God has created me. Oh, what freedom this is!
Jessica Garrett is a native of Conway, AR. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas and currently works in the mental health field providing services to youth and their families.
Jessica is also the worship leader at Grace Church. She discovered her gift for singing at the age of six and says that since then, God continuously plays the melody He placed in her heart. She is passionate about ALL things worship, leading & teaching.