Thursday, July 9, 2009

Selective Hearers and the Women Who Love Them

A tragedy has occurred in our home. I had hoped and prayed this pestilence which had caused
"a thousand to fall at my side" would somehow not come near our home. But my faith was not strong enough, my prayers not powerful enough. We were destined to become like almost every other married couple I knew. It does indeed rain on the just and the unjust.

I can remember the night well, that our home was invaded. As a newlywed, I was pouring my heart out to my husband as he watched TV to keep from being overwhelmed with emotion at the details of my story. Then as I allowed the usual moment of hesitation in my monologue, where he would normally enter the conversation with compassion, wisdom, and understanding, there was silence. I remember waiting, thinking, "Wow! He is so touched with my outpouring, he cannot speak." The silence continued...and then the scene that has been rerun in our home more times than Andy Griffith played out.

"Honey? Honey? Are you listening??......HONEY! ARE YOU LISTENING?"

His armor still shown brightly, as it rested against the blue denim background of the recliner. His shield still rested against the left side of the chair, and his sword against the right side, ready to defend me in a heartbeat, but something was still wrong. I then ran to my knight in shining armor's side convinced some thing was terribly wrong. Finally after struggling to shake that massive amount of shining metal and getting no response, denting the chest plate as I enthusiastically performed CPR attempting to revive him, I flipped open his face guard, only to find a some cob webs and a note, "Gone to get a sandwich, keep talking."

The glazed look in his eyes as he returned from the kitchen, wearing his ragged white t-shirt and jeans, said it all. (Do Knights always dress that tacky under their armor?)Not only did he not have anything to say about my vocal offerings, not only did he not hear them, he did not know I was in the room. The winds of selective hearing had blown into our home. I thought my man would be different than so many of my friends' husbands. It was a sad day, for both of us. I would now talk twice as much since he could only absorb half as much. The half he did absorb would be confused with the the half he didn't hear. The half he didn't get would be the whole juxt of the conversation.

I have come to accept my husband's late onset hearing disability, although I think it would make it easier to deal with if I could receive a monthly disability check to compensate me for the inconvenience his hearing loss has caused me. Of, course I would have more information to share with him when I came back from shopping which would only make the situation more unbearable for both of us.

The new tragedy? Our home has been struck again. My 10 year old son started exhibiting the same symptoms of this disability. I was devastated. He is only 10. He's too young for a grown man's disease. I cried out to God in desperation, "Please don't take my son from me! I still have so much to share with him! Please God, 6 months! Give me 6 months to say goodbye, before his eyes glaze over, and communication is forever limited to commercial breaks and the time it takes to fix him a sandwich!" But I did not pray through and his hearing got worse.I would frequently be giving directions in his general direction in the living room. I would wait on some sort of acknowledgment that my words had been received and processed. Moment's later, still no response. I cannot count the times I have given reminders as we walked out the door, of items he needed to grab, only to arrive at our destination "itemless". I found myself addressing him like he was 90 years old and living in a rest home.



And with the absolute sincerest look on his face, he would say, "Mom, I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."

Well, this mom got tired of apologies. I decided to take Nathan to our Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist. We drove an hour and a half, in hopes of a miracle procedure to restore sanity to our home.

We arrived, and I informed the doctor of my dilemma. "My son is turning into his father at age 10. This should concern all parties involved. " He didn't seem to realize what a state of national emergency this was. I told him of Nathan's hearing loss, his constant misunderstandings, and the all annoying phrase repeated throughout the day, "What?".

The doctor laughed and informed me, that he has numerous wives drag their husbands into his office to get their hearing checked, only to find their husbands can hear fine, it's the high frequency of their wives' voices that they cannot hear. I cracked up laughing, assuming that was some sort of audiologist' joke, but he assured me it was true. I felt pity for those wives, but knew God could move in my situation. Apparently God moved all right- right out of that doctor's office. They performed the tests on Nathan's ears. I was shocked by the results- as I usually am when told I am the one with the problem. Apparently the high frequency of my voice does not always register in Nathan's ears. The more frustrated I get, the higher my voice goes, decreasing my chances of being heard. I am raising a 10 year old, with the hearing of a 60 year old. The doctor suggested he marry a woman with a deep voice. He did give me some pointers to making sure I am heard- make him look me in the eyes when I am giving him direction. Make him repeat the directions back to me. Minimize distractions during important conversations. He said I could also try them on my son if they worked on my husband.

Then as we were leaving, the doctor told Nathan, "Nathan, it was good to see you again."

Nathan replied, "Again, what does he mean again?"

"Nathan, he was the doctor that took your tonsils out."

"Oh, yeah. I forgot."

With his memory following so closely on the departure on his hearing, we decided to go straight to the Social Security Office and get his paperwork started. Wanted: A godly woman with a low voice, a good memory, and patience to marry my son.

As we prepared to leave the office though, the doctor looked into Nathan's eyes and gave him a clear instruction. "Don't tell your mother anymore you can't hear. You need to be honest and say, "I wasn't listening."
Well, about that time, God stepped back into the office, and convicted me of my listening skills.

"My sheep know my voice.....
I know His voice well. I can recognize Him in a crowd. I can hear Him in the crashing waves, or a gentle brook. And I know when to pretend I didn't hear Him- when He asks for more than I am willing to give. I can hear Him calling my name, when I want just 30 minutes to sleep. When He calls me from my gentle cruise to leave the boat and walk on the water, I sometimes find myself in more of a hearing mood than listening one. We as His sheep know His voice, but are we always listening? To hear is to simply acknowledge the sound, to listen is to hear the sound and process the information. So many times, I am comforted by hearing His voice, because it means He is still near. It also somehow leads me to believe that as long as I am close enough to still hear His voice, than I can hone in and listen more closely when I feel like "listening."

The sad issue is this- it we who miss out when we don't listen. When I try to tune out the noise of my kids each day, I miss out on on conversations I want to join, games I want to play, jokes when I really need a laugh, and joy and chaos I will someday miss and long to hear. Sometimes we are tuning out an invitation from God to draw closer, go deeper, soar higher, or even rest longer. We tend to always try to remember that we will not have our kids forever and time is precious with them. If only we could grasp that concept with God. Though God is eternal, the time He would share with us today under these circumstances in our lives, may never happen again. It is the changes in us that will hinder the effectiveness and impact of time spent with Him, not Him. If God calls you today, it is because He knew something of your present circumstances or tomorrow's events that makes this moment in time the perfect moment to speak to you. What if what He wants to impart to you today, will be too late to receive tomorrow? We treat God's continual presence and activity in our lives too lightly. We take for granted our God who never sleeps nor slumbers, assuming we will always another time to meet.

When the same voice that spoke light into existence, calls unto our inner man to come and dine, it is not an invitation to be taken lightly. Just as he tried to instill in the Israelites with their daily ration of manna, there is daily provision from Him available to us each day. Tomorrow's will not be available today, and today's will not sustain through tomorrow. Just as I long for Nathan to treat every word I speak to Him as significant and meaningful, how much more so should the words of our Good Shepherd be heeded and internalized.

As Dr. Schultz gently reprimanded Nathan, I too, received the rebuke to be honest-"Father, I will not say I did not hear you, but rather I was not listening. " How ridiculous to ever think God would speak too low for me to hear.

I paid a $35.00 co-pay for that rebuke. Of course, I saved $35.00 when I cancelled the appointment I had made for my husband.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"O Be Careful Little Eyes What You See"

I am tirelessly careful about what other people view me doing. I try to be cautious and modest in my dress, I am discreet and private when clearing my nasal passages (please don't make me expound on that...) and I pride myself on my proper, ladylike behavior. But there are times, when control of what others observe me doing is removed.
Such was the case this week.
In preparation for the company this weekend, I was fulfilling my job duties as "Keeper of the Cement Pond." I was skimming, chlorinating, vacuuming, and sweating. When I clean the pool, I usually dress in my oldest, tattered, faded clothes because I am notorious for getting chlorine on them and fading them. That day was no different. In addition to bumming down, I will neglect to apply makeup or style my hair. Why apply what is going to be sweated off into the pool water anyway, and then require more treatment to remove?
As this Beverly Hillbilly 90210 pool gal worked her magic clearing up the water, in a manner only Moses and his staff could rival, a predicament arose. In the bottom of the 10 foot deep end, garbage had become trapped in the drain preventing the water to flow properly through the pump. On any other given day in the summer, there would have been short elves and dwarfs in the water who would have been thrilled with the task of diving down and cleaning the drain. On this such day, no one under 5' 4" was present. Desperately needing to get the pool cleaned, I decided to take action. I would dive down and retrieve the garbage. Since I have not invested in my own pool accessories, I decided to borrow from the kids treasure box of gear. Digging through the jumbled mess, I found a pair of goggles I needed to be able to see the drain clearly under water. As I stretched the goggles over my head, I realized my head is considerably larger than a 7 year olds. I adjusted the goggles to as large as possible, and then wedged them over my head. Instead of holding all my hair down under the band, it somehow managed to redirect my hair upward, giving the appearance of a hairpiece perched upon my head ready to be released with the next good breeze. That, however, was minor to the change the goggles made to my face. I apparently have quite a bit more facial fat than a 7 year old also. The goggles had the opposite effect of a face lift. Every ounce of fat on my face was pulled down into the goggles. I was struggling to see through the two slits where the cheek fat met my eyes in each lens. Because of the immense pressure of the goggles on my face, every bit of skin out side the goggles was red and every bit of skin in the goggles was white. I looked like a homeless diver, who had been stung by a bee and was awaiting the Jaws of Life to remove me from my entrapment.
It was uncomfortable, yet I knew the sooner I got it over with, the sooner I could move on to another project. I slid into the water, and prepared to submerge beneath the surface. If submerge gives you the mental image of a submarine diving towards the depths, good. That's the only image that can come close to describing this amount of flesh entering the water.
I bobbed in the deep end for a few minutes, practicing holding my breath, and situated myself against the wall to be able to effectively push off the side and gain momentum for the journey down.I was beginning to feel like I belonged in a Jacques Cousteau documentary. " Watch as the massive creature circles her prey, preparing to lunge in for the kill," He might would say in hushed tones. I was finally ready to pursue the drain. Deep breath, solid push against the wall, and I am under. I t is really hard to judge distance under the water. I overshot the drain and tried to turn mid glide and swim back toward the drain. But a new problem arose. When shorts get wet, and when they are loose anyway, they tend to not stay put. Every time I moved forward, my shorts tried to stay stationary in the water. I developed a new stroke. I would use both hands to glide forward, then both hands to grab the shorts. I looked like a jellyfish, where the legs move first, then the head has to catch up. I repeated this stroke across the pool. Glide with arms, grab shorts. Glide with arms, grab shorts.
Finally I was back over the drain, and already exhausted with my new synchronized swimming routine. I rose to the surface, gagging and choking as I held my shorts with one hand and tried to remain afloat with the other, took a deep breath, and plunged back into the water. I managed to get to the drain and grab a huge handful of leaves. I kicked for all I was worth trying to hold onto the garbage and my shorts. I broke through the service again, gagging and coughing, as I doggy paddled my way to the shore to deposit my garbage on the concrete. Unable to use my arms, I decided to flip on my back and float to shore. I held the handful of leaves straight up in the hair like the Liberty Torch, and kicked and splashed my way to the side of the pool. When the side was in reach, I slapped those leaves on the pavement, just as the goggles slid up pulling my hair into a tight pony tail on top of my head, while the bottle of the goggles caught on the tip of my nose, pulling it straight up in "pig like" appearance. Unable to fix the goggles, hold the shorts, release my hair, and stay afloat, I just bobbed and gagged for a moment to catch my breath. It was then I noticed two boots attached to brown pants standing 12 inches from me. I looked up into the very disturbed and shocked face of the UPS man.
It was obvious by his stunned face, and perched stance, he had been standing there a while. I don't know if he was more afraid of me coming out of the water, or of possibly having to go in after me. I am not sure he wanted to hang around for either possibility.
"Hi," I blubbered.
"I...I... have a package for you," he stuttered.
"OK. Just leave it on the porch, " I said in a tone of voice that I hope resembled that of an efficient secretary and not that of a beached whale.
" I will. Are you gonna be alright?"
What a loaded question. I have never been "alright". I am an accident waiting to happen, and a candid camera's dream. I felt, however, that I needed to re-assure this man so he would not worry about me on the remainder of his route.
So what could I say, that would ease his mind and yet explain my behavior. With a contorted, red face, I gave my explanation.
"You know how rodeos have clowns? Sea World is going to try the same concept in the Shamu show. Water clowns. I'm trying out."
Without a moment's hesitation, he replied, "You're ready,"with a twinkle in his eye, as he backed the big brown van down the drive-way.
I was embarrassed, and yet it was an obvious reminder- you never know who is watching you. You may work diligently to portray to others exactly what you want them to see and perceive about you, but what you truly are will eventually shine through. Sometimes the only catalyst needed to bring out our hidden nature is a forbidden fruit tree, a bathing maiden on a roof top, a crowing rooster, or even suffering. We may be observed in the fiery furnace like the three Hebrew boys. We may be observed in our slavery like Joseph. We may be observed in our power and authority like King Saul. We may even be observed in our death like Stephen. How will we do? Will the true nature of Christ shine through us? Will we be able to draw on the unending source of strength and power in our lives, or will the emptiness of our spiritual tank become obvious to all. So many times we feel we are inadequate to be used for the kingdom. We do not realize we are daily a testimony to the world. Every action is documented by a lost world and a knowing family. It is the difference bewteen carrying the cross and wearing the cross. One strives to make a statement with no sacrifice involved, the other seeks to protray the sacrifice that requires no further statement- an innocent King on a guilty man's cross-my cross. The true measure of a Christian's commitment is not what he does with the cross, but what the cross does to him. The world will not be reached by viewing our religious jewlry and wearing our catch phrase T-shirts, if underneath we do not also bear the marks of the cross on our back and His Word on our lips. Someone is watching and a world is waiting.

Don't be caught with garbage in your hand and holding up your britches. A lost world is not drawn in by that image, only UPS drivers.