Yesterday began with a whirlwind of emotions. I was exhausted from working the night before, but rose bright and early for a morning appointment with an audiologist, an appointment to which I have been looking forward with eagerness. I was to be fitted for hearing instruments. The need for them fills me with feelings of inadequacy, but the anticipation of fulfillment of the need for them fills me with excitement. I can only imagine what I’ve been missing, but I know that I have missed out on many conversations and lives.
When someone speaks to me and then says, “Never mind,” when I ask them to repeat themselves, it usually leaves me feeling left out, defective, and more often than not – resentful. The negative part of me translates that into, “You are not worth the energy it takes to say something twice,” though the rational part of me recognizes the more likely meaning is, “What I had to say was not worth wasting a second breath on.” In my diseased brain, the negative side usually wins. Other times, I have resigned myself to just miss out on what is going on around me. Aware that folks around me are talking, I am partially content to see their expressions but aggravated that I am ill-equipped to participate further.
A life like this can hardly be conducive to my sense of fellowship, and I am concerned that I have adopted character traits that are harmful to relationships and that promote isolation. I sometimes ignore phone calls so people have to leave messages which I can repeatedly play back on “speaker mode” until I finally understand what they say, rather than stopping them ten times a minute during a live conversation, just to say, “Please repeat that.” I would rather sit with a full email inbox than be in a room full of friends, only because I can read each message and understand its content, but in a crowd I am reduced to a visual spectator. I enjoy my recovery meetings and church services, partly because one person speaks at a time, but as soon as those meetings break up, I am at my same disadvantage as cells divide and multiply and with them the conversations that become unintelligible noise to me. At work, my clients, who usually are not happy to begin with if they have to talk to me, are then aggravated with my repeated questions and what appears to them as my inattention. I expected that to continue to be a problem as I retire and go to nursing school. I don’t want to miss so much of my classes and to be involuntarily inattentive to my future patients. So I ordered the prosthetic hearing instruments that will, no doubt, be a blessing from God, but which cost as much as a used car.
One of the reasons I have put this off was my mistaken understanding of hearing aids. I always thought that they were amplifiers only, and in the old days they were. Since I have a kind of hearing loss that makes me supersensitive to loud noises, I was afraid to have anything in my ears that would amplify anything. To me, it was a painful prospect, not just annoying or loud, but painful. I learned recently that the technology of digital hearing instruments has an answer for that, softening the loud stuff while making the soft stuff loud enough to hear.
I wanted to write this out, not because I think anyone will understand or relate, but because I am surprised at how emotional I am about this. I was thrilled, horrified, and disappointed all at the same time. I still am. I accept that I am human and was never expected to function at superhuman levels, but I am still disappointed in this “thorn in the flesh.” God’s grace is sufficient for me, as it was for Paul of Tarsus.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NKJV
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Dear Father, today, help me to be grateful for what I have rather than pitiful for what I do not. Help me to shine brightly on others rather than to darken their fellowship with my insistence on inclusion. Let me walk in Your grace so that, whether in plenty or in need, I may be content.