The Magnifying Glass

There are times in life when the ache is surreal. The mind can’t possibly fathom how life could be this way – one thing after another, no stopping or pausing for the heart. Sometimes, these moments seem amplified, because of the grief or the fear that is being carried.

When I became a parent, I never imagined that at nine-years-old my son would not talk or communicate his needs. When I dreamed of the future, there was no non-verbal child riding next to me. Then, slowly, I realized that his words, sentences, phrases, writing or even singing would never happen (though I still hold out desperate hope). Suddenly, every ache, every pain was held under a magnifying glass called autism.

It Happens to Everyone

Like many normal families, we always timed our Chick-fil-a dinner slightly before or after the dinner rush. It was worth it to have the playground to ourselves or just a few others. We had three small ones at that time, all under four-years-old. Having the playground to ourselves was of prime importance and worth every hangry child by which we were accompanied.

We sat in our booth next to the glass windows overlooking the playroom, waiting for our food. He shrieked and cried with the best of wailing. “Please, Lord, let the food come soon!” I prayed, knowing it was the only thing that could make him happy.

Except it didn’t.

He grew louder and more angry by the second, until he started knocking his head against the glass window. I rushed from across the table, blocking his head from hitting the fragile frame, but not before the glass panes bounced and resounded from the force. Everyone was looking at us. The “control-your-child” stares induced my shame.

Like my father and probably his father before him, my husband took him to the car. Once he was calm, he brought our son back into the restaurant, at which point the screaming and crying began again. This time though, he thrust his wrist into his mouth and bit down. The shrieks were louder now, his flailing body in pain. When I finally pulled his arm away it was bleeding profusely in the shape of his own teeth.

We exited the restaurant then.

As we sat in the car, I turned to my husband and said, “I think there is something going on with our son.” Putting the car in reverse and looking over his shoulder, he said, “Yes, I think so.”

Magnify [mag-nuh-fahy] v. to increase the apparent size; attribute too much importance; exaggerate

A simple trip with hangry children, every parent has been there. Everyone has been stared at for one reason or another. The shame and the pain are familiar. Yet, the real sadness of that story isn’t in the familiar tale. The real sadness comes from a lens held up to the scene. This particular magnifying lens helps me to scrutinize the scene like a detective – amplifying the evidence.

This is just one lens.

We all have lenses. Some of mine include depression, anxiety, grief, loneliness. A day off appears to be a colossal waste of time and existence under the lens of depression. A day off plays out as laziness under the lens of anxiety . A day off becomes a day of mourning under the lens of grief . A day off under the lens of loneliness? Solitary confinement.

In life, I want to be careful to step back from my lenses every now and then. At times, I need to be a bystander of my pain, reflecting on it without the distortion of magnification. Only then can I see the pain for what it is. In this way, a demon becomes a teacher, forever becomes a day, and tomorrow a ray of hope.

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