My oldest daughter has been asking me for months to take her to the eye doctor. My response was always, “Yes, OK, I will make an appointment,” but the days got away from me and to be honest, I thought her eyes were fine. I didn’t think she wore her glasses as often as she should, and her request just slithered down the list to “low priority.”
January rolled around, and our new insurance cards arrived in the mail so I finally called and made the appointment. The doctor asked Emily what issues she was having with her eyes, and I cringed as Emily explained that she got glasses in seventh grade and just felt like she couldn’t see as well anymore. How had four years passed since I took her to the eye doctor?! The familiar eye chart popped up on the wall, and the doctor asked Emily to read the top row. Two letters into it, Emily started naming letters that weren’t there, and we both started to giggle. Wide eyed I looked at her and the doctor and said, “I am little worried that Emily has been driving if she can’t see the top row!”
Emily’s 7th grade prescription was for astigmatism. The doctor explained that not only had the astigmatism worsened, but Emily was now also near sighted. She fitted Emily for contacts and wrote up a new Rx for her glasses.
After the initial eye-watering struggle to get the contacts in her eyes, Emily quickly adjusted to her new lenses. Throughout the afternoon, I noticed Emily walking slowly or just staring at things. I caught her eye and said, “Whatcha doing over there? You ok?” We both laughed as she walked up, gently put her hand on my face and said, “I am just looking at everything I haven’t been able to see. You look so clear.” The newfound brightness and clarity both surprised and delighted her.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we aren’t seeing until something opens our eyes. I hear news of a tragic accident or an unexpected illness and stop to take the time to hug my kids more or call an old friend. But then life gets busy and weeks go by, and I find myself going through the motions and missing the details. Sometimes it isn’t just the horrific tragedies that wake me up. One night before bed, one of my daughters started an impromptu game of “monkey in the middle” with me and her sisters. I was tired, longing for my pjs, but for some reason, instead of yelling, “Stop! Get in bed! It’s late,” I actually participated. As we ran around the room laughing in our silliness, I became fully aware of what it felt like to be awake, engaged, and connected. I was less aware of my fatigue and more aware of the expressions on my daughters’ sweet faces that I so often miss in the daily routine. And like Emily, the brightness and clarity of the moment both surprised and delighted me.
I don’t think it is always about trying harder or making that decision to be a better, more engaged person tomorrow. Emily tried to see better, but squinting just gave her headaches and while sitting closer to the board at school may have helped in the moment, it wasn’t a long term solution. The more she strained her eyes to see more clearly, the more frustrated she became. She needed new lenses. She needed something else to help her see. I believe that is true for us too.
We can’t always see better on our own even though I like to think that I can. I like to think if I just try harder or work longer than I will do things better. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes putting more effort into something really does help, but I really believe it is something deeper. I believe it is about trusting God that He will help me to see more clearly if I let Him be the lens.