Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Endure It Well, and Observations on Being on Vocal Rest

Three more weeks of silence. Then I'll go to the specialist with the cool toys to look at my vocal chords and see what's up.
I'll be fine I'm sure, things just tend to take time in my life. It's all part of God's plan to boost my endurance.
Almost a month ago God and I were having a chat during Sacrament Meeting. I said, "Okay, so I've learned to take leaps of faith, have hope when reason says there isn't hope, and I'm getting this patience thing down okay, so am I still missing something here? What do I need to do now to make Thy Will happen in my life?"
He said, "Endure, endure it well."
Stupid me thought he was talking about the trials I was already going through. Well apparently not, because let me tell you the silence is nothing compared with the other big thing that blindsided me and then the collection of other problems that have cropped up since then.
And yet, while there are unexpected moments of stabbing emotional pain, boy have I learned. I've learned that sometimes we have to go through things, and it's not even about if we get to the destination we think we are headed for. It's about God showing us a path and saying, "Walk this, it leads to valley I told you about, and the journey will teach you to be like me." So we start down the path, and walk it faithfully. We deal with all the stuff that tries to knock us off track. We slog through the mire. There are times when we wonder if we will survive.
And then one day it hits us... it's not about the valley, it's about obeying and learning to be like God. It's not about getting to some earthly goal, it's not about earning a mansion on high, it's about being so committed to living by eternal truths and revelation that we become more like God in every step.
That's the difference between enduring and enduring it well.

So yes, yes it is super annoying to have to parent 3 kids, alone, with no voice. It is hard on me to be unable to be heard, or to try other's patience with my slow responses. BUT it really isn't much to endure, and in the end, my other trials won't be either, because I'm focusing on wringing every drop of growth out of this that I can.

So there's the spiritual stuff.

Now for the funny things I have observed thus far:

1) When you gesture at your throat to people that you can't speak, a lot of them get flustered and think you can't hear either. They raise their voices, or they want to write back to you on your paper. Naturally they are embarrassed when they figure out that they are doing this, but I find it endearing, because they are usually the kindest people who are so wrapped up in making things easier for others that they go overboard. Such angels.

2) If you know any people who kind of give you the heebie-jeebies already, don't let them know that you can't speak. They may decide this is their opportunity to massage and stroke your lily-white throat as they murmur "comforting" things to you. Oh what's that? That's not funny? Don't tell me that. Please. Please tell me I will laugh about it someday, because I'm still a little disturbed. Heebie-jeebie city.

So maybe they aren't funny, but I find them interesting at least...

3) As much as I'm not heard, a lot of people make a big effort to listen to me, and I find it a wonderful reflection on mankind. I hold up my little sign and suddenly they extend patience and courtesy that they probably wouldn't have before. I get the most genuine smiles.

4) People can't read lips. I mean some people can, and to tell you the truth I'd like to carry around a person who can read lips in my back pocket (but let's face it my butt is just not that big!) I've taken to gesturing, pantomiming, and using writing as a last resort because it takes foreeeeever. I am really lucky though because some people are completely uber lovely and when I walk in they will inform everyone else for me that I can't speak and fill in all the details that take forever for people to read.

5) And that's another thing. People are slow readers. I mean, I know there are factors involved like a)Thora's deplorable handwriting, b) lighting c) nerves of having to read something thrust in your face and d) eyesight factors. I just find it amusing because I'm one of the slower readers among my siblings, but apparently I'm not a slow reader at all.

6) Songs mean more when you can't sing them and just listen to the words and carry them in your heart. At least, to me they do.

7) I've never listened so much to the way a congregation sounds during Hymns like I have recently. There are some lovely singers in my ward. I love to listen to them. There are some people who really can't sing at all. I listen to them too. No,  no, I'm not wishing they would be quiet, quite the opposite. I am touched that they take their devotion to God to such a level that they would leave their comfort zone and skill set like that, just to praise Him. Bravo, Bravo, BRAVO and WOW!

8) There's a little boy who sits in front of us at church. For months he has turned around during songs to listen to me sing. Last Sunday he turned around and kind of glared at me in confusion because I wasn't singing. I mean, I rather expected it when the first Sunday I didn't sing Bro. Pierce leans in his seat on the stand to see around the pulpit and sends me a quizzical look, it's just... it's something about a KID missing my voice. This kid has never spoken to me, he's probably headed into kindergarten this year, and somehow... somehow that makes his opinion matter so much more.

9) There is someone I really miss talking to. You see, he can't read, he can't even sit straight in his wheelchair. He drools constantly and has no words to communicate with at all. The most sound you get out of him is a coughing fit. However, he understands. I love to get down on the floor in front of him and chatter away. I'll ask questions, and he'll respond with his expressions. He can say so much with his face. He has a terrific sense of humor. He thinks I'm funny, and a bit full of myself. I think I'd say just about any crazy thing just to get him to laugh his silent laugh. His eyes are almost blindingly bright when he's laughing. He loves his brother (who takes care of him nearly 24/7). He loves the gospel. He has opinions too, if you take the time to talk to him about things. However, if he's got one of those soft yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies he won't pay an ounce of attention to me. Just as it should be. Yeah... I really miss talking to him.

10) I've been blind all this time to what it is like to have a physical limitation. I won't say I know what it is like even now, because I have a possible end-date on my calendar, and I've had all these years with my voice anyway, and I mean... it's just a voice.
I wrote to someone the other day that it is at rock bottom that we find our deep well of compassion, and I really believe that. I'm not really at rock bottom this time around, not even close, but I have gained so much. I  have learned such respect and awe of people who face life with bodies that don't work like everyone else's. I thought I had respect and understanding before, but I didn't, and I'm ashamed of what I once called my wisdom.

Well, okay, that got all spiritual too. Looks like I can't write anything without turning it back to God, but hey, when someone is the center of your life you're kind of going to mention them a lot, right?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Mortar

Otherwise entitled: What I learned in church today.

Today in church the lesson was talking about all of our roles in God's kingdom. The book mentioned hod carriers, which... I know a hod tender, so I kind of laughed when it was said. I was disabused a long time ago about the seeming unimportance of a hod man. I am no longer among those who are unfamiliar with the crucial importance of the right timing of deliveries to the masons, the proper preparation of the mortar, and the importance of preparing the work site.
The teacher went on with her lesson, but my mind stayed on construction (yes, I only half listen to the teachers in church, I try to listen to the dialogue of The Spirit with my spirit instead). I have a lot of respect for construction work. It is a beautiful, noble thing to build something. It is even more beautiful and more noble to build it well. My mind was full of images of hard working men, dirty, sweaty, skilled, swift, reliable. They worked with real things, tangible things, they created. Construction, in my mind, is a great art.
Of course the Mater Builder agrees with me on that. How many construction related passages are there in scripture? Well I don't know either, but it's a lot.
My mind then circled, not on the workers, but on the materials. What if the bricks weren't there?
About that time the teacher said something about people who think their job in the church is so unimportant that they don't bother to do it at all.
Not doing their job at all, yes... what IF the bricks weren't there? What if, as God, The Master Builder, was building heaven and ran out on bricks? Or what if, horror of horrors the bricks that he had put in place ran out on him? What would the structure of heaven be then? Surely not sound, if it was missing bricks here and there, everywhere, punching holes in God's work so it looks like Swiss cheese.
I wondered if any of those missing bricks knew how they had weakened the wall. Obviously they hadn't felt that being where God had placed them was very important, but what did it do to the bricks around them?
In my minds eye I could see the cracks forming, the wall bowing, the chasm opening as the wall crumbled.
All from a missing brick.
Was I that missing brick? Sometimes, perhaps I am. Sometimes I don't even feel like a brick, I feel like half baked mud, no... sometimes I feel like sloppy, messy, formless, ugly, mortar.
I wondered how many others felt like mortar. I looked around. I could see a few. I knew they felt unimportant. We all focus so much on the pillars, the foundation stones, the big big blocks of so much weight and importance.
Yet, were would it all be without the mortar?

I think all of us feel like mortar sometimes, like we haven't become anything yet that could be of real use in the Kingdom of Heaven. How very wrong we are.

You! You with all your pliability, you without the rigid structure, you who go un-noticed, seeping into seems, smashed between the big beautiful blocks, mixed up, scraped, slopped, oozing, you are the thing that holds it all together. Without you, the wall is nothing but a teetering pile. Without you it will never be strong. Without you all the bricks in the world could not build heaven right.

Brothers and sisters, God needs you. You may not understand  how you are making a difference, but being present IS making a difference. Being willing is making a difference. Being YOU is making a difference.