I have a hearing loss. I like to blame it on being a musician and years of in-ear monitors blasting a “click” (metronome) in my ears at volumes far louder than recommended because that sounds cooler than “I have a hearing loss”. The reality is, my dad had a significant hearing loss, my mother has hearing loss, my brother has hearing loss, and my daughter was born with a moderate hearing loss, so odds are, it runs in the family. Either way, listening with understanding can be difficult for me at times.
My husband often gets frustrated with me as I respond with confusion and “huh” more often than either of us would like. Or I think he’s saying something that isn’t even close to what he’s actually saying and react in a manner totally inappropriate to the reality before me. My kids have to repeat themselves time and time again which most likely drives them crazy. I long for the day when I can afford hearing aids so I don’t frustrate those closest to me so frequently. But for now…
I pray that my ears work a little better than my mouth. I hope to be the kind of person who really listens to what others are saying to me (even when I can’t hear them fully). I may not always understand their perspective and I may often disagree but that doesn’t negate the responsibility to listen. When we find ourselves so enamored with our own opinions that ours is the only viewpoint we can see, we might be guilty of this.
There is such a thing as fundamental truth. I do not subscribe to the notion that all things are relative and your truth is different than mine. Some things are black and white without a grey area to smudge and blur the dividing lines. Don’t misunderstand me.
Yet, how can we espouse the truth we hold so dear, and positively influence the life of another person, if we can’t take the time to sit in community with them and hear what they are saying? I think we will find that often times, the things we are getting so angry and upset about “the other side” saying, aren’t really what they are saying at all. We are so quick to polarize. We are so quick to speak before we hear.
I get myself in trouble all the time when I hear (or think I hear) someone say something to me but in my impairment, I think they are saying something completely bizarre and I couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s become a comedy of sorts with my kids because I will quote back to them what I heard which will be something completely off the wall like, “a band of monkeys invaded Pearl Harbor”, and they’ll laugh and tell me they actually said, “there are ants in the tree in the backyard”. Feel free to donate to that hearing aid fund :).
I think we all do that in life all the time. Maybe not literally like I do, but when we jump to conclusions about another person’s intentions, life experiences, perspectives. When we forget that, “Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one].” I Corinthians 13:7 AMP. Slow down and listen! And if you don’t understand, ask questions, and LISTEN to the answer. You might be surprised that your enemy isn’t really an enemy and even if they are, they might be won over with a small amount of kindness.
Our anger will never produce the righteousness of God. Our kindness and patience might shine the light of his glory and truth to generations. We will never win an argument we are fighting against ourselves, but we can learn to listen and speak out of the abundance of a life turned towards Jesus and the goodness of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, that may mean speaking a word of correction and a good dose of disagreement, but that doesn’t mean an angry tirade against the masses. Slow down!
I may not have physical hearing aids yet and my kids will still laugh at me when I think they are saying they want to “dance with piglets” instead of “have some Cheez-its”. But I hope my spiritual hearing aids are tuned to hear everything through the redemptive love of Jesus Christ and a desire to see him shine! Those are the messages I want my big mouth to shout to the ends of the earth.
I confess, if I were the author of my story, I might have written a few of the chapters differently. I might have cleaned up some of the rough edges and plot lines. I might have skipped a trauma or two, or three, or a million and seven.
When I was seven or eight years old, I had an encounter with God. I’d been raised in church. I’d heard about him almost my entire life. I would have been able to tell you all about the Bible stories and the gospel. I sang hymns louder than anyone around me (anyone who knows me in person can attest to the fact that I sing louder than most). I knew of him. But that night I MET him.
I remember being surrounded by people in that little country church in Southern Ohio and it being just Jesus and me. I remember him softly speaking to my heart that he had a plan for my life. I remember knowing more than I’ve ever known anything (to this day) that he was real, he loved me, and I am his and he is mine. No matter what I’ve been through since, everything comes back to that one night when he called me his own.
What I’m realizing now, so many years later, is that I’ve spent most of my time trying to live up to the calling I felt that night. Every mistake I’ve made felt like the annihilation of everything for me. Every trauma felt like disqualification. I can’t say my life has been a rose-garden. From a ‘Christian-ese’ perspective, I probably should have been disqualified. I’ve had a baby out of wedlock. I’ve been divorced and remarried. I’ve made some grade-A messes throughout my life. How could he possibly still use me now?
But one thing remains, the redemptive love of God. I’ve never stopped asking him to pick me back up and help me to keep on walking. Sure, many times, I’ve tried to scoop myself up off the floor and fix everything broken in my life. Sure, many times, I’ve whined and cried to the heavens because a lot of my messes weren’t my own doing, and it just didn’t seem fair. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say that.
Still, he didn’t call me because of my qualifications or my abilities. I wouldn’t have been the right choice. He called me by his mercy, knowing I would mess it all up a thousand times and keep coming back. Maybe the biggest part of my testimony is that through it all and despite of me, I still love him deeply. I feel everything deeply and I’m not afraid to be real. Maybe my weaknesses are part of why he chooses me. If his strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9) then I have spent a lifetime proving him strong. I’m like a weeble-wobble who keeps popping back up ready for battle no matter how many times I’ve been knocked down.
The past few years have been probably the hardest few years of my life. I’ve cried more and, honestly, lost my wobble more, in that season that anytime I can remember. It’s been ROUGH, y’all! But I’ve kept on fighting and getting up every morning, sometimes begrudgingly, lacing up my running shoes, and walking forward. Now, I’m seeing God answer prayers I wasn’t sure he would. I’m seeing him perfect, despite how weak I had been. I’m so incredibly grateful!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord.
I feel like I’d reached the bottom of myself and all the striving and trying to be enough was finally able to give way to a profound and staggering desire for him. Suddenly, I want him to be glorified, not to prove myself worthy of him reaching out to me so many years ago, but because I feel the weight of his glory. I would have never thought I was making the focus about me. I would have denied it if you’d accused me of it. I wasn’t outwardly. I wasn’t making a show or doing good works and ministry to look good to others. I think I was, however, trying to look good to me. I thought I was a bad investment.
I’ve always prayed the Psalm I began this with. It’s been a mantra of mine for years. Yet now, I feel it to my bones!
My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
He has been so good and so faithful to me; I cannot help but tell of his goodness. I yield my life to be a pen in his capable hands. His story is being written on my heart and walked out by my feet. My heart is overflowing.
I know this isn’t the kind of thing I typically write here, but I pray that you who have been patient enough to read this so far, would realize that every step, even the rough and unsteady ones, will bring you closer if you just keep walking towards him. I pray that his love would so permeate your spirit, that you can’t help but write, create, sing, dance, whistle, whittle, play air-guitar, whatever it is that you do . Overflow! Don’t allow the scars of this life to rob you of the beauty he’s writing for you. Just keep walking. Every step is worth it if we are walking towards Jesus. He isn’t going to run away. He’s right there with you always!
If we don’t protect it, hope can feel like a balloon, filled to maximum capacity for a moment then let go to float into the air, sputtering, and flying unhindered.
Hope is so much more precious than this. I wish it were easy to tie the knot and seal it in all cozy and safe but even inflated balloons lose air over time.
There is only the constant application of pressure to save us. In the pressure, we stretch and hold firm to what we know. God is able. We are not alone! We can stretch farther than we think.
Don’t let gravity, the environmental circumstances of everyday, the pin-hole leaks in our defenses, deflate you. Keep your tank full! Let breath and air fill your lungs and your spirit. Lean in and believe.
Each breath is a moment in time lost once it’s accomplished. Steady your breathing. You can do hard things! And when it’s too much and you feel like you might burst, remember He is stronger than anything and He’s fighting with you and for you.