So I have started to notice a pattern in my walk with God. It seems like most of the time when I feel His voice it’s very late at night. Last night was no different. I had already stayed up way later than I should have reading, but hey, when a book is good you have to keep going, am I right?
I have this thing I always do when I am ready to sleep and that is to calculate how much sleep I am going to get that night. I had my number in my head as I put my head on the pillow. As I woke up this morning, I knew I hadn’t come close to my prediction.
I am not good at figuring out how much time has passed but what I did know was that I would be writing a blog today after being kept awake for an extended amount of time. I hadn’t planned on it but here am I because for the second time in a few weeks I feel like God was asking me, “Are you still listening?”
A few Sundays ago, on my way to church, I heard this same phrase in my head, along with the feeling I should continue writing, and not just my blog. Have you ever tried to pretend you didn’t hear God? That if you just acted like you really didn’t get His subtle memo that maybe He’d forget. I have been trying to do that ever since.
Honestly, although many people have asked me about it, I am really not interested in writing another book. I never planned the first one. And I have such a new appreciation for what an undertaking it is, that I shutter to think about going through the process again. But God continues to press, although I try to claim I never heard His message.
At this point I don’t even have a clear direction for a middle and an ending but here is where I know it would start.
Very few people outside of my family know about the event that happened to me in December of 2015, about six months before what happened to my mom. It is certainly not on the scale of her near death experience, but it has changed my life. Because at this point I don’t know if I will ever put all the details in a book, I am going to give you the short version.
If you’ve read my book, you know how much passion I have for the nutritional supplements my mom used to treat her cancer. Along with God’s hand, they helped save her life. So of course, my family also takes them for everyday health and prevention. Although I was someone who got sick just as much as the next person, flus, colds, sore throats, etc., since I started taking them three and a half years ago, I have probably only caught a very light version of something going around for less than a week in all that time. It’s been a huge turnaround and I am very used to being healthy everyday, so much that I know at times I take it for granted.
However, one day in late December 2015, something felt off. I heard a bit of a ringing in my left ear as I was reading to my youngest son. Weird, I thought. It continued on and off for a few days. I remember telling my mom it seemed like I should be sick or something, but I felt fine. That was another thing the supplements did, fight off things when they came at you, so I was sort of used to that.
So that afternoon, my son and I stuck to our normal routine with me pushing him in his stroller up and down the mountain we lived on. I had no problems with the exercise but a few hours later as my sweet boy threw a dandy of a tantrum with lots of high pitched yelling, pain coursed through my ear and became close to unbearable.
My husband urged me to go to Urgent Care because it was Friday night, just as a precaution. I agreed and drove myself. Without a screaming toddler around, it should have been no problem. We lived about 40 minutes from the doctor and 20 minutes in I had to pull over. The lights of the other cars were disorienting me and I felt like I was spinning. Without a doubt, God kept me safe when I returned to the highway because looking back it was an extremely dangerous decision, for me and for other drivers around me.
Though I stumbled into the clinic with tears streaming down my face explaining my difficulties and symptoms, the doctor quickly diagnosed me with an allergy and sent with home with an antihistamine. I have never had allergies but I was in no position to argue with her expertise. “It will clear up very soon,” she told me.
My husband had to load the kids and come get me as driving back was now impossible in my condition. I’ve never heard of allergies keeping you from walking straight but here we were. The night was so unsettling that I hadn’t even notice until hours later that the pain seemed to be gone. But so was my hearing.
In the effort to keep this short, I will get to the point by saying the doctor was wrong. I suffered all weekend with vicious Vertigo, never leaving my bed except to go the bathroom. I couldn’t eat or move without agonizing motion sickness. An appointment with an ENT three days later revealed, in his opinion, that I had a virus (although I was never sick), in my inner ear and my hearing would either “come back or it wouldn’t.” There was nothing he could do to help. It was less than an uplifting speech.
It’s now been over two years and I just got around to going for another opinion. One issue has been that we’ve move twice since then but the heart of the matter was that I didn’t want confirmation of what that doctor predicted, a 50-50 of never hearing my children talk to me in that ear ever again. You don’t realize how much hearing affects your everyday life until it’s taken away. I miss hearing my boys’ laughter or when my husband sneaks up on me and whispers something sweet in that ear and then having to turn to him and ruin the moment by saying, “What? You’re going to need to try the other ear.” It’s not the end of the world, I know, but it’s still real for me. I’ve had people in public try to talk to me without me realizing it until someone points it out and I hate that I probably seem rude at times.
My 3-year-old picked up the habit of saying, “What?” even though he can hear just fine. It’s just that he hears it from me no less than 30 times a day. If you’re on my left side, I am just not going to pick up what you’re saying. It makes being in a group conversation or trying to chat at a restaurant very difficult.
So two weeks ago, I finally went to another ENT with hope for good news. HOPE IN THE STORM, right? That’s my tagline for the book. I need to take my own advice. As I took the hearing test , I have to say knowing that there were sounds going off in my ear and sitting with my hands on my knees basically the entire time without ever acknowledging I heard them broke my heart in two. My positive vibes hadn’t worked.
Crushing me further was the doctor showing me the results and seeing that my level of hearing could not go any lower. The doctor seemed to not want to use the term “deaf,” preferring the phrase “significant hearing loss.” And all of this was from a virus I never felt, a silent attack that changed much about my daily life.
Have I felt sorry for myself since then at times? You bet. Because on top of not being able to hear from that ear, I have a white noise that has been there ever since that day. “It will never go away,” the doctor confirmed, “because your brain is creating it to make up for the sounds you no longer hear.” Awesome.
I remember telling my husband about three weeks after this happened, that I could not live with that noise forever, it was going to make me crazy. I can’t hear on the outside not matter how hard I try, yet I can’t get any silence on the inside. It can be maddening. Yet, here I am, still sane. The strength to continue on is clearly not from me, but a resilience from above. I did not have it in me then and even at times now, I still don’t always wake up with the ability to be positive about the situation.
“Are you still listening?” Yes, God, I’m trying. You have my attention. You are in control and I am not, clearly. I can take all the supplements in the world for prevention, yet You still direct my path, You decide what happens. And you know what? I accept that now as best as my human nature allows. Did I ever think I would be a very healthy person who would randomly go deaf in my ear a week before Christmas two years ago? Of course not. But you know what, the hearing in my right ear has gotten significantly better. I notice all kinds of things I never did before and take much less for granted about my senses.
And I don’t need hearing in either ear to hear God.
I almost always sleep on my right ear at night, so I have to let my husband know when I’m about to do that because I can’t hear anything once I’m laying like that, and I don’t want him to think I’m ignoring him if he tries to talk to me. Last night, I was in that same position, and yet God’s voice was as clear as can be.
“Are you still listening?”
Do I want to write more about what God has done in my life and the lives of those around me? If there was a stronger word than “NO!” I would insert it here. I am treading water as it is with the time commitment from this first book. But miracles and lessons have not stopped since the life-changing event that happened to my mom. We continue to be well aware that God has His hands on our lives everyday. We continue to realize that our plans for this life are not His plans. But He’s still got us, we are covered by His love and guidance and that’s all we need.
One day, maybe I’ll have to tell you more. Maybe I’ll be up again late at night and feel like I have to share more of this journey of our lives. If God’s not going to let me sleep, I might have to, because I LOVE to sleep. We’ll just see what God decides to whisper to me because I vow to do my best to hear Him.
“Cancer on Monday, Dead on Tuesday, Home by the Weekend” is now available at Amazon.com and a signed copy can be requested from Tricia by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org