In 483 B.C., Medo-Persian King Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) threw a huge, 7 day party. What was strange about this party is that it FOLLOWED a 180 day, kingdom-wide celebration. I mean… who has THAT kind of money? I guess Xerxes did – and he had no qualms about spending it. At some point in the party, Xerxes makes a mistake. He assumes his queen, the beautiful Vashti, will want to come to the men’s party and parade around for everyone. She set him straight pretty quickly… all through the channels of the first private messaging system… eunuchs. After consulting the fellas in his “boys club”, Xerxes boots Vashti to the curb… or actually to a part of the harem where he’ll never see her again. ‘Cept… now he’s lonely. This lonliness sets in play a kingdom-wide search for all the beautiful single women in the kingdom. That’s right… there’s a job opening in the palace.
Hadassah was a young Jewess being raised in Susa by her cousin Mordecai. Was it because she was near the palace at Susa that she was picked up so quickly? We don’t know, but we do know she was a “hottie”. Beautiful in form and face. Her name was changed to Esther and she began the year-long process of getting her chance with Xerxes to see if he liked her well enough to become his new queen. History tells us that in 478 B.C., Esther becomes queen. Guess she made an impact…
Xerxes was a “strange ‘un”. He paid attention to seemingly unimportant things and completely overlooked really important details… like signing a law from a “Jew hater” named Haman to wipe out and annhilate all the Jews on a specific day. Haman is conniving and manipulative and leaves out the little detail about exactly WHO the race was to be destroyed. Xerxes didn’t have a problem with the Jews – one saved his life even (wouldn’t you know it was Esther’s cousin Mordecai?) – but Haman certainly did. If you are familiar with the story, you know that Queen Esther is given the opportunity to save her people from this vengeance edict that was drawn-up and pushed through into law by Haman. During a pep talk from her cousin Mordecai via that early private messaging system… he tells Esther something that has reverberated down through the years to words we all know. “FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS”. Those six words are profound, aren’t they? Unfortunately, Esther 4:14, has an even greater timeless reminder that is often overlooked. Mordecai actually says, “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this”. Yup. Esther saves her people by exposing Haman and suggesting to Xerxes to write a counter-law that will allow the Jews to fight for their very lives instead of rolling over and giving up. It seems no one wants to face a Jew with a sword. They are saved.
I think we miss an important reminder when we take only those six words out of context. All the pieces were in play at the right time, right place… all for a very important reason. I’ve often thought about my own life and tried to look at opportunities available to me that I have as a result of – all the pieces being in play at the right time and right place. Who knows whether or not I became deaf for such a time as this?
You Have a Disability. Now what?
I’m reasonably certain that if I asked for a show of hands for anyone who signed up for developing a disability or acquiring an invisible illness, I’d see a “room” full of people sitting on their hands. To be painfully honest with you, there are days that I really hate being deaf and only being able to hear if I wear bionics. I can get extremely depressed after experiencing a day where I had to navigate my space hanging on to walls or using a cane. I didn’t ask to become deaf, nor aspire to being a person with Meniere’s disease. Yet I firmly believe that everything has a purpose. So I’m deaf and hear again with a CI. What can I do with that?
Do you know that you have access to people that may be unique to YOU? The Internet may bring like-minded people together for discussion and support, but many of these people you may never meet face-to-face. Yet in YOUR life, there are real people that you have contact with that I do not. You don’t know the sad-eyed waitress at my favorite locally-owned restaurant. You don’t buy stamps from the grumpy postal worker I see once a month. You don’t stop and wait your turn at the crosswalk where a harried, sweaty, “I can’t take much more of this”, crossing guard faithfully sees school children across the busy street each weekday. These folks are unique to me, just as specific individuals you know at work, school, church, and PTA are unique to YOU.
Do you literally navigate life by using a power-scooter or walker? Then you are mobile in a manner I do not understand. Do you have fibromyalgia? I don’t understand that kind of pain – symptomatic of an invisible illness often misunderstood. Even those I know who have hearing loss and Meniere’s disease face different problems, frustrations, and symptoms than I experience. Hearing loss is often as unique as the individual. Yet all that is YOU, puts you in a unique position to make a difference where you are. I cannot influence the people that are unique to you.
You know something? It helps me to remember this timeless reminder when I am feeling particular frustrated about my life. I’m in a specific time and place with specific gifts, skills, and personality to influence those around me in a positive way. What is frightening is remembering that I can also influence others in a negative way. Going back to Mordecai’s pep talk to Queen Esther, he also reminds her that if she keeps her mouth shut and doesn’t ask Xerxes for the life of her people, then deliverance will come from another place.
Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
I don’t know about YOU, but I want to seize my opportunities. Sure… some may seem like small opportunities for impacting the life of another, but who is to say that opportunity is without worth? If I don’t live my life actively looking for opportunities to make a difference, then someone else will be in a position to do it instead. Especially if it is an opportunity to be a blessing and to make a positive difference in another. You are unique. The opportunities available to YOU are unique.
President Harry Truman said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties”. Yup. I realize there is some therapeutic value in the occasional pity party. However, don’t stay as a permanent guest. You are missing opportunities if you keep your eyes on SELF. I believe living a life looking for opportunities makes life worth living. I try to re-evaluate where I am in finding and seizing opportunities every Monday. Mondays are dreaded by most; however, I’ve come to look forward to them as I’ve discovered self-evaluation can be invigorating – or at least a KICK IN THE PANTS.
© 2011 Personal Hearing Loss Journal