Sunday I had the rare treat of hearing my husband, Terry speak. In the past I was able to attend and listen to numerous speaking opportunities that he had, but our lives do not “intersect” outside of HOME as often as they once did. So the opportunity to hear him speak on Sunday when our pastor invited him to “fill the pulpit” while he was gone was pretty special. Our church is beginning a study on the book of Ezekiel.
We don’t have a “deaf ministry” in our church. We also do not have a loop system. Our church family is a pretty small group – but we love it! There are two of us with cochlear implants. Myself and a young teenage boy are the “hearing again” crowd in our church family. When you hear with a CI, there is a teeny, tiny delay in processing what you hear until you understand what it is you hear. Most of the time I do not notice the delay at all. However, in large cavernous place like the auditorium in which we meet, plus the fact I have all this noise around me which includes children, rustling of papers, sneezes, adjusting body weight in chairs, etc., I’m a little more distracted by what I’m hearing! It’s also strange to focus your attention on a speaker, but the sound of their voice is coming from another place. I suppose since I was without sound completely for almost two years, I still habitually speech read. Looking at Terry, I “understand” much of what is enunciated on his lips. However, Terry’s voice was coming from the two large speakers from the side. Since we aren’t “looped” for hearing assistive technology, what I heard was what everyone else heard… coming from the speakers. (BIG GRIN). It’s hard to explain… but trust me when I say it can be difficult when you hear with a CI!
Anyway, Terry began by talking about his past work with BIANC (Brain Injury Association of North Carolina). He brought up examples of people talking about markers in their life. As I’m playing a constant game of “catch up” throughout the study… when he said this the first thing that came to mind was Crayola Markers. After I understood what he meant, I was pretty cracked up. Some examples he gave:
“Well before my brain injury, I ….”
“After I lost my hearing, I…”
“Before I got married, I…”
“After we had kids…”
We all have these markers in our life. At some point – LIFE HAPPENS. And when it does, you are left with a permanent “marker” in your life. Things at THAT POINT changed and your life would forever be different. These markers are not always a BAD thing… they can be a good thing too! These markers in our life indicate a point in time where our focus changed. They indicate where we ‘chose a new road’, or embraced a new calling or mission. The markers can also indicate a point in time where the “bottom dropped out” of the world as we knew it. Tragedy, loss, and heartache have a way of searing a painful scar on our hearts and minds, leaving a point in time where we recognize our lives changed.
Terry had some main points from Ezekiel chapters 1-4. Ezekiel’s marker was an encounter with God. Before this “marker” in Ezekiel’s life:
He was entering a new season of life.
He was with people who were dealing with problems.
He was looking for opportunities from God.
Then during the “great moment in time” that would forever change Ezekiel’s life:
It was impossible to ignore.
Impossible to explain
and Impossible to get over.
After the encounter, Ezekiel found that:
What defined him would be different.
What discouraged him would be different.
What satisfied him would be different.
I think all of us can say that these points hold true to any “marker” we have in our own lives. Invisible disabilities may define individuals in different ways but there is one thing we have in common. Our lives will never be the same. That isn’t always a bad thing… for even in “losing something” we often gain so much. It may be hard to recognize at first, but the ‘gain’ is there if you really look for it. I think of my own life and the marker of “After I lost my hearing…” What now defines me and discourages me is different than before the marker. What SATISFIES me is different. My goals, desires, and passions are much different than they were. I have a friend who deals with numerous invisible disabilities. I love her. She has ministered to me in ways she does not understand. She once wrote about her new satisfaction about what a friend was. Allow me to share…
“Several years ago I fell ill, unable to continue a life that was full of people. They were genial folks, kindhearted and interesting. As they faded away when I was no longer able to do things with them and for them, I discovered the difference between a friend and a friendly acquaintance… A good friend changed from something I was owed to a breathtakingly beautiful gift. The sorrow and grief made that change possible, leaving behind it a bit of wisdom. There have been many an acquaintance made after I lost my pre-illness social circle, but now they are held rather lightly. I enjoy them, but resist having expectations of them. Often I will find myself sensing when a relationship feels more like a requirement, or when I seem to be taking more than I give back. Not in IOU or UOME terms, but in an awareness of balance.”
She goes on to explain that really the only ONE who can meet our needs is God.
I am reminded of an Ebenezer. To some of my readers, you may recognize that word from a VERY old hymn, rarely sung in churches today. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is not widely known in today’s churches. I had a grandmother who was not only fond of old hymns, but also of explaining what words meant. Ebenezer comes from two Hebrew words Even and Haazer. It looks like this:
It means “stone of help” and represents a memorial stone set up specifically to TESTIFY and REMEMBER.
These markers in our life are indelible, permanent fixtures on our own hearts and minds. For some things, however, I like to have a literal Ebenezer. Something tangible, something I can hold, and something that forces me to remember.
You are going to think I’m crazy… but check out this Ebenezer:
Nope! Your eyes do not deceive you. These are two shed cicada skins. Before you think I’ve lost it and am “gruesome beyond belief”, read the LID of the box:
Unless you’ve lost your hearing… only to regain it through a cochlear implant, you cannot understand what it means to hear and recognize a sound from your past.
You cannot understand what it means to bend and pick up something unless you live with arthritis.
You cannot understand what it means to see again unless you’ve lived with cataracts and then had them removed.
You cannot understand what it means to stretch for a glass from your cubboard and realize you feel no pain today, unless you live with fibromyalgia.
You cannot understand what it means to have independence because of an assistance dog, unless you live with mobility issues and difficulties.
You cannot understand what it means to look forward to “today”, unless you live with mental illness.
Life challenges bring a new appreciation… a new satisfaction for what once were mundane tasks. If you haven’t yet identified markers in your life, well my friend? It’s one of two things… you either aren’t living life, or you haven’t lived enough of it YET.
One of the hardest things about being a parent is seeing my young adult children identify and experience things that etch permanent markers in their own lives. Perhaps you aren’t a parent, but you know someone who is experiencing a first “marker”. Do your best to encourage them. Be a living testimony of someone whose own life markers made them “better”. Make a difference…
© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal