Overcoming the Depression of Hearing Loss


A recent visit from my 20 year old son got me thinking back to the days at the beginning of my hearing loss. Just a few weeks ago he received confirmation from an audiologist of what we already suspected: he inherited my hearing disability. Sound will slowly fade away, as it did for me.  I hurt for him, and I rejoice in hope for him, for I now know this fading holds some beauty.

I was a teenager when I got my own confirmation from an audiologist. I knew my mom’s hearing disability was hereditary and I had already noticed signs of it, but that hearing test set it in stone and sent me spinning. Depression is a common experience for those who lose a sense that seems so vital in this life and world. Our society functions upon the assumption of hearing. Hearing loss creates a separation from society; a feeling of isolation when left out of conversations and activities that others are participating in. Being alone is lonely, but being left out is even lonelier; a kind of loneliness that sparks depression.
“Why me?” That question rattled around in my mind for years. Occasionally it still pops up, but now I have an answer. This happened so that “the works of God should be made manifest in him(her).” John 9:3 

Manifest: to make clear or evident to the understanding. To reveal or expose.

This happened so that the works of God should be revealed, understood, and made clear in me.

The works of God is translated from the Greek word ergon, which means “that which one undertakes to do, or that with which one is occupied.”

Experiencing the loss of my hearing has helped me to clearly understand that God is not occupied with physical prosperity or ease, which is temporary, but with the development and growth of our spiritual life, which is eternal. He has undertaken the task of transforming our hearts, and opening our spiritual ears to hear him and to know him. His occupation is to reveal himself to us.

Helen Keller, though physically blind, saw the works of God clearly, and described it like this: “I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.”

Without a doubt, hearing loss is challenging! But my world is not as silent and lonely as I once thought it would be, for God speaks in the quiet, and his words are peace.

“Be still (be at peace) and know that He is God.”

huShhhh – When We Want to Hear His Voice

As a preschool teacher many years ago, before the severity of my current hearing loss, I learned a great secret: The secret to being very effective at calming a chaotic classroom, and getting noisy kids to hear me. When 3 and 4 year old noises get out of control, that is the time to find the quietest space, crouch low with a finger to your lips, and ever so softly… whisper.

Who will come sit beside me and listen? I have a great story to tell. Can you hear my whisper? Come, sit beside me. hushhh, listen.”

One by one the noises quieted as friends saw friends sit on the rug beside me, and whisper with me. Worked. Every. Time.

So it is with hearing loss, I’ve since learned. The more noise overlapping noise, the more difficult it is to hear that one voice I want to hear, for it blends into the chaotic environment. To hear I must step into a quieter space and sit close. It is easier to hear the contrast of a whisper in a silent room, than a yell undifferentiated among the sounds of a noisy room.

And so it is with hearing God, I’m learning. He doesn’t speak in the roar of the wind or the loud rumble of the quaking earth, but with a soft gentle whisper. (1Kings 19:11-12) With his still small voice he whispers an invitation to come sit beside him. We hear him when we hush the roar and the rumble of our mind’s distractions, join our friends who are sitting beside him, and in that stillness we listen to the whisper of His Word, with great attention.

Come, sit beside Him and listen. Be still, (be hushed), and know that He is God.

 

A Gift

From time to time God has gifted me with the ability to “hear”; The ability to read His Word and “hear” his voice say… this is what I’m telling you, this is what that means. A gentle whisper that says “Remember Luke 22:19” when I’m reading Exodus 25:30. A spiritual understanding that only He gives. He gifts us with spiritual ears. I have found it a bit ironic that my spiritual ears have opened as my physical ears have gone deaf. And yet, isn’t that quite fitting in this upside down kingdom of God, where the Almighty came to serve, and the least shall be the greatest?

The deaf shall hear. Hear what matters. Hear Him.

Just as Christ, the captain of our salvation, was made perfect through the things which He suffered (Hebrews 2:10), so we are being transformed into his image through the trials of this life. Hearing loss has been a daily struggle for me. Learning to hear again through the abnormal electronic sound of a cochlear implant will likely not be easy. But there is value in the things we suffer, value in the difficult. Physical hearing is a beautiful thing. But the loss of my hearing has taught me so much about listening to the Holy Spirit, a gift I cherish.

Those beautiful, physical things that we want to cling to, sometimes they wither and die. Can we see it as a gift? I suppose that’s what this devotional journal is really about. How the trials of this life can open up our understanding of the things of God. How

physical loss can be spiritual gain.

It Is Well With My Soul

October 23rd is the day I might hear again. It seems surreal. A ray of light shining on my soul. I can only imagine how it will impact my life. My uncle suggested that I journal my way through this experience of ‘hearing again through cochlear implant surgery’, as he cherishes the journal he kept years ago when he received his cochlear implant.

In years past I journaled through our adoption experiences (at dailysurrendertojesus.com) and I look back with gratitude that I took the time to document them, and the life lessons God taught me during and through the adoptions of 3 of our children.  I hope some of you enjoyed walking that path with us.

Since hearing loss has also taught me more life lessons than I can possibly count, it seems right to document this too.

So, welcome to this devotional journal as I countdown from day 83 with lessons from hearing loss.

The most important lesson God has ever taught me through hearing loss, is to trust Him in the midst of every circumstance; To be at peace in his presence regardless of trial or hardship; To simply rest in knowing that in his sovereignty He allows nothing without purpose; To be still and know that He is God.