It’s no secret-not any more-that I’m hearing impaired. People usually figure it out pretty quickly on their own but I’ve changed my approach to my deafness, and instead of hiding it and hoping no-one discovers, I’ve finally begin to just tell people before they assume the worst; that I’m either ignoring them, being rude, or just plain dumb.
Over the years I’ve gotten used to the questions, like “Where are you from? I’m trying to place your accent ” and “How can you love music and dancing so much?” and “Can you hear ANYTHING??” I’m used to it and I don’t mind explaining to others and enlightening them about my deafness now. If someone asks me, I’m always willing to answer questions,but there’s a few things that just rub me wrong.
Please don’t look at me with pity and exclaim, “I’m so sorry ” when I tell you that I can’t hear and, please, for goodness sake, don’t begin to define me by my hearing loss.
My hearing loss isn’t something to be pitied, it’s actually one of my greatest gifts.
You see,my hearing loss brings out the truth in people rather quickly. There’s so much that one can learn about others and about yourself when you can’t hear as well as most people can. I notice everything, even subtle mannerisms, and shifts in energy because I rely on using total communication-using the limited hearing I do have, reading lips and body language, while looking deeply into the eyes of whoever I’m engaged in conversation with. I get to sit close to people, I get to hold eye contact and I really focus on who I’m with.
I’m not just “hearing impaired”, I’m a woman that wants to understand and be understood; it’s that pure and simple, and that complicated and overwhelming. I’m much more than what I’m not, and when people say “I’m so sorry” upon hearing that I’m deaf, I gently tell them “don’t be sorry for me, be sorry for those that hear but don’t listen.”
A few weeks ago, a new client came in for a massage and read my AVA article that was on the table. After talking a few minutes ,he asked me if he could pray for my hearing to be restored. I took his hands in both of mine and said,”You can pray for me ,but please listen to this story first, then pray as you see fit.”
My Aunt Dorothy was a feisty woman who had been blind since she was a toddler. One night she went to a tent revival and the preacher man, upon realizing there was a blind woman in the crowd, came down and began to pray loudly over her ,laying his hands on her eyes, and asking God to restore her vision. She let him pray and then ,she said something that has stayed in my mind all these years. “You pray for my eyes to see, when what I need prayer for is my heart. I can be bitter and mean, hurtful and unforgiving, and that’s what really needs prayer. I don’t need to see things, I need to be a better woman, I need to be kind, to be patient, to be more loving. When I die, the first thing I’ll see is the face of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I don’t need to see this world, I need to LOVE these people in this world.” Then with a loud laugh,she added “But if you can make these glass eyes see, that would REALLY be a miracle!”
“Really be a miracle.”
Please, pause and ponder this for a moment. What would really be a miracle?
Sometimes we see a disability and that’s all we see, we don’t look deep enough to realize what else is there. We see a wheelchair, instead of a person; we notice the crutches, and don’t look at the beautiful blue eyes; we see the elderly man take cautious steps, without realizing that long ago, he fought for our freedom. We see the child with Downs Syndrome, and overlook the child’s pure joy of life. We see deaf people signing, and only think about what they don’t hear instead of marveling at the beautiful language and culture they share. We see the white cane, and act as if the person is invisible.
Like the preacher man, the strangers at Taco Cabana - who approached me and my best friend years ago to ask if they could pray for my hearing - and my client, so many people pray for what they perceive needs a miracle. It’s human nature to want to “fix things” and to change things to what we think is “normal” or “better”.
We look, but we don’t see and we hear, but we don’t listen. We assume too much,and know far too little.
The real miracle, I believe, would be for us to really look beyond the surface, beyond the disabilities, the disfigurement, the differences and see the abilities, the beauty, the uniqueness of each person.
We need to pray that our hearts will overflow with compassion, that we can see the goodness in the world, and hear the sound of love.
We need a real miracle and it’s within each of us to make it happen.
My client, after hearing the story of Aunt Dorothy, prayed for a “real miracle” for us both to have the heart to forgive and to love. He understood right away that my deafness wasn’t a problem to be fixed, but a unique part of who I am.
So, I give this story over to you and urge you to listen with your eyes, to hear with your heart, to touch with kindness, to see with clarity and to create a ripple effect of miracles right now.