Have you ever seen one of those star maps they sell here in Hollywood? Supposedly they lead you to the hidden homes of all the A-List Celebrities. A map revealing hidden things … sounds vaguely familiar.
When I think about my life as a person of profound hearing loss, there are vaults of mysteries that I cannot begin to explain. Why does having a disability make a person more compassionate, more demanding, more intense, less secure, more loving, more fragile … than the average bird? I want to shed a bit of insight on the world of the hearing impaired.
Parts of my heart are shattered.
I can’t hear.
There are conversations — every.single.day — where I have no idea what was said. So I walk away without knowing, and without that buzzy feeling like I got to be a part of it. I sometimes leave the conversation angry because I didn’t hear, and I misunderstood (and I don’t realize it yet). Sometimes I’m so busy trying to hear the words that I miss the chance to focus on a person’s heart.
The inability to hear is exhausting.
The pain of failing AGAIN. This day, this conversation, this person. Them misunderstanding me. Or judging me. And they do.
There’s an alone-ness that is a bit like standing on the other side of the glass at the car wash. There’s a whole lot of living going on in there. Intellectually I know that I belong. Parts of my heart can even connect and relax within the realm of the hearing world. But parts of my heart don’t get it.
Ah, you say God can fill that. Yes, He can. Until He does though, millions of people remain misunderstood. They are between the Now and the Not Yet. God is big. And we are small. “His eye is on the sparrow … and I know He watches me.” But we let Him be in charge of the mysteries.
“… the mystery, Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” — Col 1:27
Those who are hearing impaired are incredibly sensitive to the world around them; constantly assessing a room, a situation or a person to determine if they are going to be able to hear. The need to focus on the words being spoken … the right words and the right conversation … affects ones facial expressions. We are focused, and not usually mad or upset. Picture yourself perpetually trying to thread a needle 12 hours a day.
It’s not uncommon for me to reside deep inside myself because hearing requires more effort, more engagement, and I forget to come out and connect with the world. People draw conclusions then too.
Observer: “You’re aloof, Samantha.”
Me: “No, I have a hearing disability, and you don’t comprehend what that means.”
The thing that is the most painful is that a hearing impairment is invisible to the world. A white cane, you’d know there’s a problem. A wheelchair … you wouldn’t expect sprints from the wheeler, barring the spectacular. But there is small grace for hearing loss. May I challenge you today? As you are conversing with people think about whether or not your listener can actually hear you. Don’t throw yourself headlong into the street to protect them from oncoming traffic, just enunciate. 🙂