HE SPEAKS IN THE SILENCE

The clear blue California sky mocked me as I fumbled to close the doctor’s office door behind me. How could the sun shine cheerfully on such a day as this? How dare the people bustling past me smile and laugh? How cruel a joke that life goes on—for mine stopped with the doctor’s one word: deafness.

“Young lady, you are going deaf.”

Deafdeafdeaf…

He was wrong… had to be wrong! A 26 year-old mother does not go deaf. That is for wrinkled old men, not a vibrant young woman with a family and a future.

I hadn’t wanted to go to the doctor in the first place. There was nothing wrong with my ears. The problem was, people mumbled so much. Telephones weren’t as clear as they used to be. And with the noise level in a house with a preschooler and a toddler and a new baby… well, who could hear above all that?

I had almost talked myself out of going but forged ahead to please my husband and family who had been urging me to see a specialist for some time. Confident that the doctor would just give me a pill and make this all go away, I left my newborn nursing baby at home with her dad and kept my appointment. Several hours and countless tests later I drove numbly home, the doctor’s grim diagnosis ringing in my failing ears.

“Diane, you have a severe hearing loss in both ears. We’ll do some tests, but my guess is that it is a neural sensorial hearing loss, probably progressive. It will get worse. You need hearing aids now… deaf later.”

I was stunned. It had never entered my mind that I might be going deaf. Fluid in the ears maybe, perhaps a virus. I had had a mild case of pneumonia a few months before and thought a simple medication would clear up the subtle muffling. But deafness? I was utterly unprepared and absolutely terrified.

I went home, told my husband and family, held my children, and wept. Looking at them, knowing I would not be able to hear them as they grew up, I was engulfed in grief. How can a mother not hear?

Too soon, I dried my tears, stuffed the bewilderment deep down inside and plastered a smile on my face. The doctor had to be wrong.

Life was good. God had blessed me. Everything would be just fine.

And it was. My life was good. It always had been. I’d grown up in a wonderfully loving family, married the man of my dreams—a pastor, a spiritual giant. I had three healthy, happy children and countless friends in a great church. Yes, life was good and God was blessing me. After all, I followed the rules didn’t I? Wasn’t that the way life was supposed to work? I do my part by being very, very good and disciplined and as perfect-as-possible. Then God would do His part. All those promises about His blessing me and taking care of me. It was a done deal. Deafness was most certainly not a part of the package.

Yet despite all that goodness in my life, a nagging emptiness had started me longing for something more. I couldn’t put my finger on it, couldn’t articulate what was amiss, but all that goodness just didn’t seem to be enough. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of having, was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, yet faced each day with a sort of empty dread.

Try as I might, I couldn’t feel anything but weary from the work of it all.

Ever since I had given my life to Christ as a young teenager, I had tried to emulate certain wise and godly women. If I could just copy their lives, I thought, then someday I’d be a super Christian too. One of these women was Muriel Cook. She was beautiful in every way. Meeting with me every week for a year, she dished out wisdom on a silver platter. With her Bible open, she’d mix the Scriptures with real life while I scrambled to write it all down.

One afternoon she came to our meeting with tears streaking down her carefully made-up face. She had been weeping over her own sinfulness. I was shocked into silence. This woman seemed to me the epitome of perfection. If she was such a sinner, what did that say of me?

Another women stood next to me in the choir. She was a simple woman, not attractive by any means. Her grey streaked hair pulled back in a ponytail did nothing to soften the deep lines on her face. Yet whenever we sang a song about the Cross, or the Savior, or of His washing of our sins, her face transformed into a glowing beauty, the crevices flowing with streams of grateful tears.

Why? What was it that moved her heart while mine was left cold? I had always known that Jesus had died for me. Yet His death did not tear at my heart. Why could I not weep at the Cross?

I began, tentatively at first, to pray about this emptiness. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was praying for. I just knew that I wanted what these women had. I wanted to know God like that, to experience Him intimately. Over time my longing intensified. Whatever it was, whatever it took, I wanted it.

As the months passed after my initial diagnosis, the dullness of my hearing became more and more evident. Each time it reared its ugly head I pushed it down, plastered my smile in place and went on. Tests were ordered. MRI’s, CAT scans, blood tests, bone tests. I switched doctors. I tried harder. Yet all the facts led to one inevitable, inescapable conclusion. I was losing my hearing… and fast.

It is difficult to describe what it is like to lose one’s hearing.

At first it was the little things. I couldn’t hear the kitchen telephone ringing from down the hall and when I finally heard it, I couldn’t tell who was on the other line. All voices sounded about the same to me. I could not tell the difference between Lynn and Kim and the gym. Once I carried on a full fifteen minutes with Stacey only to discover I was talking to Lucy!

Being hearing impaired involves an enormous amount of frustration. I can hear, I just cannot always understand what I hear. It is frustrating to want to talk to someone, to want to get to know someone, but be afraid to enter into a conversation that I will not understand. Sometimes I work so hard to wring out every intelligible bit of sound from the roar that meets my ears that I go home completely wrung out from the effort.

It is frustrating to have a well-meaning person say, “But you do so well, nobody would ever know!” What they don’t realize is how much I miss, how often I bluff, how tense I get in a conversation when I hope I am nodding my head the right way. Or how stupid I feel when I see that dread look in their eyes that means I have just blundered badly.

But it was at home that the pain was the greatest.

When my baby cried in the night and I didn’t hear.

When my little girl wrapped her dimpled arms around my neck and whispered sweet secrets—that I couldn’t hear.

Or when my son told me all about his first stay away at camp, chattering excitedly on our way home about nicknames and new friends and fun games… and I knew I was missing all the but the main parts.

Oh the pain! I didn’t mind as much not hearing birds or crickets or alarm clocks or buzzers. Let the cookies burn in the oven for all I care! But those lovely, intimate, important words—I wanted to hear. I longed to hear. The thought of being cut off, isolated and alone in my silent world terrified me.

I began to sink into a deep depression. I had never experienced such sadness before. Me, the middle child, steady-eddie, never too high, never very low, just cheer up and everything will be fine. But not now. This was darkness. I couldn’t just cheer up. I was overwhelmed with fear, with anger, and most of all with self-pity. My God had turned His back on me. How could He? Why would He? I felt unloved, rejected, abandoned. I had absolutely no doubt that He was able to heal me. My faith in His ability never wavered. The fact that He did not heal me despite my desperate pleadings shook my faith in His goodness to its very foundations.

God was supposed to bless me for obeying Him, for following the rules.

Isn’t that how it works? I do the right thing. He does the right thing. I fulfill the condition. He fulfills the promise.

I was a proper pastor’s wife. I sacrificed so much for Him. How dare He do this to me?

My fear turned to anger. Deep within my heart I railed against God. I thought Him unfair, uncaring, cold—even mean.

I prayed and felt silence.

I read my Bible and saw only the Jesus of righteous wrath.

I went to church and wept.

My family reached out in tender love but I rejected every effort. My husband tried to help me in that exuberant way of his, saying all the wrong things as he watched me crumble within myself. At least it isn’t cancer. There isn’t pain. Ah, come on, its not so bad.

Every word grated against soul as I sank ever deeper.

I wrapped myself in a cloak of self-pity and firmly shut everyone out.

For the first time in my charmed life I faced something truly difficult and I failed miserably. My tidy world collapsed. I was reduced to a self-pitying, sniveling mess.

But does the Father ever turn His back on us? Does He ever throw up His mighty hands in disgust?

No! Never!

No sin is so bad, no thought so wicked, no person so vile as to turn Him away. This Savior who hung on the Cross for us did it not while we were flawlessly following the rules. He suffered there while we were sinners. Seeing the black bottom of our hearts He pursues us, relentlessly loving us with a love that will never let us go.

On a blustery Sunday evening in February, I reluctantly asked the elders of my church to pray for me. I was embarrassed by my need. Ashamed to say that God had not answered my pleadings for healing. Would He listen better to theirs? These men were friends, colleagues of my husband. Could I admit my simmering rage? Would they see the blackness that plagued my soul?

In a chilly room with cinderblock walls and windows obscured by ambered glass, I sat on a plastic chair surrounded by these elders. They were a motley assortment of men. One was a retired bank executive, another a construction worker. One man coached the high school wrestling team; another had risen to vice-president of a gas company. Each and every one of them loved God with passion and integrity.

Oh how these men prayed! These dignified, conservative men beseeched the Father on my behalf. They anointed my head with oil and prayed for healing. They laughed and they wept and they praised God together for over an hour as I soaked my blouse with my tears.

And as they prayed, the darkness began to lift. Like a darkened sky on a stormy day when the sun suddenly and unexpectedly breaks through with a stream of brilliant light, so my heart was flooded with light. The coldness of the room and of my soul warmed and filled until I abandoned myself to the beauty of that light. Everything else faded from my mind; the voices of the elders as they prayed, my own embarrassed fidgeting, my intense discomfort at the honesty of the moment—all were forgotten as I was enveloped by the warmth of what I knew was God.

And in that moment I heard His Voice.

“It’s okay, Diane. It’s okay.”

Over and over again like a song soothing my spirit I heard His words as clear as if He was speaking into my ear. “It’s okay”.

I knew exactly what He was saying to me in that suspended moment in time. He wasn’t going to heal me. My ears would fail. Deafness would define my future. And somehow, in some way I could never fathom, He had made it okay. Not just bearable, but really, honestly okay and right.

And suddenly it was! With my heart dancing and face glowing I wiped my tears and fled that room as fast as I could. What had happened in there? Dare I tell anyone? How in the world could I possibly describe what I had just seen and heard? And what did it mean?

Filled with wonder and a fair amount of fear, I went home, tucked my kids into bed and collapsed in exhaustion. The next morning found me wide awake before anyone else stirred. I had to sort this out. Needed to fit it in somewhere to my conservative theology that didn’t welcome supernatural experiences as a legitimate means to truth.

That’s when I heard that Voice again. Just as clear as the night before, but now with a hint of that firm tone I had infrequently heard as a girl with my dad.

“Alright Diane, this is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve listened to the best preachers, been to fabulous seminars, read great books. Will you entrust your deafness to Me?”

And in that early quiet, He turned me to Psalm 40, which has become the song of my heart,

“I waited patiently

and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay;

And he set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to God;

Many will see and fear,

And will trust in the LORD.”

Psalm 40:1-3

I left that encounter with God a changed woman. For the first time in my life, I had heard from God. Actually heard! His no left me filled with more peace and joy than I had ever experienced in my life.

In those months that followed the doctor’s first mention of the “D-word”, I had struggled with the issue of faith. Well-meaning people exhorted me to “have faith”. God would surely heal me and put my life back to what I wanted it to be if I only had enough faith. I searched the Scriptures to see if it was true and came away seeing that God is a god who heals—sometimes. It took absolutely no stretch of faith for me to believe that God could heal. What shook me to the core was that He didn’t .

Paul asked God to heal him of his ailment three times? Like Paul, I begged, pleaded and demanded healing, but I pleaded hundreds of times. Somehow, it seemed, if I could just drum up enough of this emotion called faith, then God would be obligated to grant me healing.

I had no idea how wrong I was.

God is not a Father who demands pitiful begging. He cherishes His children. In fact, the Bible paints a picture of a Father who longs to heap good gifts on His kids.

Faith, real faith came for me the moment I believed that God is a good God who purposely allowed this affliction to be a part of my reality. His lovingkindness has actually allowed my hearing to fail. Like David, who exclaimed with wonder in his voice, that “It was good for me that I was afflicted.” (Psalm 119:71), I began to see this as His premium plan for my life—really. This is His plan for my joy. Faith began to grow when, confronted by His holiness, I fell on my face and surrendered my deepest dread to Him.

My own faith failed the test—completely. I fell flat on my spiritual face. The truth is that He picked me up out of the pit of destruction I was digging myself into, cleaned all the mud and muck off my heart, and placed me firmly back where I belonged—on the solid rock of His faithfulness.

And then, wonder of wonders, He put a new song in my mouth. This song is all about Him. My own goodness is not enough to weather the storms and turbulence of real life, but His is! And I will sing and speak and write about His faithfulness everyday for the rest of my life.

Now, more than two decades later, I am completely deaf. Only the faintest rumble of sound penetrates the wall of silence. Relationships are hard; social gatherings painful.

This journey towards deafness has been long and difficult. Isolation, loneliness, separation, and misunderstanding have been my constant companions.

It hurts not to hear.

Yet the Father continually heaps great spoonfuls of grace on my heart. He speaks and I listen as never before. His comfort is palatable. His peace beyond figuring out. I would not trade this precious intimacy He has offered me for the best hearing in the world. God is good, though the path to His heart is oft-times strewn with pain.

Everyday as I struggle and strain to hear through my deafness, I learn a little bit more about listening to Him.

In my silent world God speaks.

I hear Him now. His voice is beautiful, rich, powerful and kind.

His words convict me in a way that makes me feel clean again and sometimes His words bring me to my knees.

His words fill me with joy and hope, for I know that…

He speaks in the silence.

From my heart,

Diane

 


Posted
November 13, 2011
In
Etc
Tagged as

41 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Thank you, Diane. Thank you, God. With tears streaming down my face, I thank you for sharing who God is for you so that I can once again see that God is good for me and all His children. Hurt hurts. Life is no easy street. BUT GOD… He is so good!

  2. Monica, you, more than any woman I know, I have a right to question the goodness of God. That fact that you don’t marks you as an incredibly wise woman. Your strength comes out of honestly believing that. Despite all the badness of your hurting, God really is good. And someday you’re going to hold that little one in your arms and He is going to whisper why.

  3. Darlene Bory

    Diane – God is good ….. all the time. What a beautiful tesimony. I would never dare to say the being deaf is a blessing, but the blessing in being deaf is the amplified voice of God. When He silenced the sounds if the world, your need for Him was clear. You now can hear him clearly, and as our leader we know He speaks to you for us! Thanks you Diane for walking through this because we are blessed.
    Can anything separate us from the love of God? NO not ever deafness

    • I would never have thought that deafness could be a blessing all those years ago- if I had only known then what I know now- that if we will just yield even the hardest things to Him, He’ll step in and turn that Thing into an avenue into His heart. And, do you know, sometimes this deafness is lovely- quiet in a really loud world. Bless you, Diane

  4. Your deafness helped me understand Ethan. God knew your heart from the beginning and now your heart speaks to me. I did not understand a son with Cochlear Implants. The Dr.’s could not explain him because they had not been deaf, but you allowed a stranger to walk up to you many years ago. You gave your time to hear the desperation of my heart to understand my child, and you have allowed God to speak through you, your deafness is a LOUD and BOLD ministry. LOUD and BOLD for such a quiet and soft spoken woman.

    • I love seeing those flashing lights Ethan has on his cochlear implants! He is blessed to have you as his mama, Elizabeth. How many moms would go to such lengths to try to know their sons and to understand their world? Diane

  5. Wow. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing. I am heard of hearing because of nerve damage from an ear infection as a child and it is painful trying to listen and hear and read lips. I don’t like talking on the phone at all; I get tired of asking those I’m talking to to repeat themselves. I smile and nod a lot. 🙂 Sometimes I would like for the world to be silent of the noise I do hear. I seek out silence for solace; it is when I hear Him the best, and I want to hear Him like that all the time. While hard of hearing, the noise I do hear is mostly…noise. And it hadn’t occurred to me until now how this may play into my sensitivity and tendency to sensory overload. If its not noise with a purpose, its just too much. I enjoy and am filled by…the silence.

  6. Liz

    Diane, God’s own goodness shines through your testimony. Thank you.

  7. Katie Matheny

    Diane,
    Thank you so much for bearing your heart. It is such a wonderful gift to see someone who you so admire admit that they are a sinner in need of a savior. The same feeling of relief you expressed you had when your mentors and role models admitted their absolute need for God and their wonder at the cross, we women share by hearing you speak your story. Thank you.

    • Can you imagine what it must mean to our children (especially teenagers!) when we mothers admit out desperate need for God? I love the NLT rendering of Matthew 5:3: “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.”

  8. Stephanie Sticka

    Diane,
    Thanks so much for sharing this story!! It is so refreshing to hear how the Lord has meet you in these circumstances. As a nurse, it compels me to have a deep patience for my deaf patients. It is a vulnerable thing to be deaf but I love how you have found your identity & trust in Jesus. I pray for grace in times of mis-communications & peace when the words are too soft. It so encourages me to see how the Lord gave you such a beautiful peace when he said “no”. It’s not easy but His grace is enough. It encourages me in my life right now. I look forward to more writings from you.

  9. rebecca

    Hi Diane, I do not have anything related to the other comments about deafness and I’ve heard your story before at many of the ladies gatherings at church, but today as I am still confined to bed and having my laptop handy I jumped online to see what your blog was about. I am so glad your story was so beautifully and articulately typed out! After 3 days of a persistent exhausting fever and terrible aches in my body I see now it was actually a blessing to have all that time to rest, read, sleep, talk to Papa-God, and wait on Him. Oh so much soul searching during times of “affliction”! I nearly jumped outta the covers when I read this part of your story, here, I copied it,

    “Yet whenever we sang a song about the Cross, or the Savior, or of His washing of our sins, her face transformed into a glowing beauty, the crevices flowing with streams of grateful tears.

    Why? What was it that moved her heart while mine was left cold? I had always known that Jesus had died for me. Yet His death did not tear at my heart. Why could I not weep at the Cross? ”

    It is exactly where I’m at. Reading in John today, I want to know how the conversion of this “son of thunder” could become the apostle of love. The answer was the Cross. But the cross? I know it, but it doesn’t move me. (did I just say that out loud?) I see the lacking. I want that to change, I am tentative, a bit nervous… reading your story this morning has given me encouragement to keep asking God to bring me to a place where the Cross IS everything to me!!! Praise the Lord for His faithful provision and grace.

  10. paige

    Diane, your testimony made me feel sad, because I want to hear God talk straight to me like that. But I realized he does. I have clinical anxiety; I haven’t known for very long. But last night as I read thought about Him talking to you, tears fell down my face. He does talk to me. He calms my heart. After that I prayed aloud to him, but I felt I wasn’t giving Him all of my heart. I realized that all this time of growing up in the church and going on missions, I have a lot of self pity, and I constantly FEEL like I should get back everything I give to him. But I’m going to spend the day with God tomorrow and pray and repent and podcast. I’ve been to Solid Rock several times and herd your husband, Phil, and son, John Mark speak. God truly speaks to me through them. But your testimony has helped me understand a lot more about God and Myself. Can’t wait to read more, and I hope to one day talk to you in person some day:)

    • Paige~ I do hope we get to meet face-to-face someday. And I am so glad that you figured out that He does indeed speak to you by calming your heart with His presence. And that kind of conviction is also His Voice helping you to heal by aligning your mind with Kingdom truth. May He bless you more and more by teaching you to hear Him… Diane
      P.S. No, I don’t sign… my dr advised me years ago to stay in the world of the hearing by learning to lip read and using technology to do the best I can.

      • paige

        I just listened to you tell this story online, and as I listened I started to cry, God is truly speaking to me through you, I’m glad I found you:) Speaking of speaking, Don’t you have a fourth child? How did you even communicate with him/her?

  11. Paige

    And do you speak sign language? 🙂

  12. Lauren

    Diane,
    This is a wonderful, story so detailed that I feel I was there. You paint such a vivid visual picture. I am sure some of those amazing details are because you SEE is. Its not retold, but a picture in your heart. It is refreshing to know that even the most Godly women go though struggles. It makes them human and approachable. As I work towards being a sign language interpreter I see the communication struggles everyday, I see the heart ache of miss communications, and yet I know many Godly Deaf people who see it at a true blessing. God works in so many miseries ways. I know God has and still will continue to bless you abundantly. Its comforting as I, as we (our church) go through trials, and its not because we have failed, rather we are important enough to be part of a bigger plan.

    • Oh you get it! “We are important enough to be part of a bigger plan.” I love that because its so true. We are called to jump into God’s story… rather than trying to drag him into ours. His story involved suffering and triumph.

  13. Tess Phillips

    wow!!! Diane i Love you!! I really truly do! Your story has blessed me more than you know! You have reminded me that God is good and has a plan for everything that passes are way andthat God does sometimes say no. I too have hearing loss and wear hearing aids and find that are stories are in some ways the same. God has taught me that time and time again that trying to walk alone just does not work so i too find my self handing over my hearing loss to Him so He may work! Diane again you are a blessing thank you so much for sharing! Gods love shines through you and i want you to know that you have touch my heart and God has worked greatly through your willingness to share!

  14. aria

    thank you so much for posting this to a place where others can read. thank you for sharing and for being so honest. there have been many times in my life during which i questioned the reality of God and whether or not he cares for me. recently, i went through a time of doubt, anger, and confusion toward God and his plan. when i was about ready to give up on God, He showed Himself to me in bigger ways than ever before. because of this there is a small amount of understanding that i’ve experienced recently to your encounter with God in the time during which the elders were praying over you. it is so cool to see you, who have experienced such hardship and pain, seeking the Lord out and praising him throughout it all. thank you for sharing! 🙂

  15. Thank you for beautifully sharing your heart, your story.

    My experience with hearing loss has been a little different. . . I was oh-so-thankful to have my diagnosis–so thankful it wasn’t just “all in my head.”

    But my diagnosis, also, was different. Bilateral moderate mid-range sensori-neural hearing loss. Hearing aids have worked wonders for me. And as you alluded to, the most amazing thing has been being able to really hear my kids. . . not just piecing together what they are saying or guessing or tuning out. . .

  16. Pamala Gray

    “And suddenly it was! With my heart dancing and face glowing I wiped my tears and fled that room as fast as I could. What had happened in there? Dare I tell anyone? How in the world could I possibly describe what I had just seen and heard? And what did it mean?”

    This happened to me too. At Acquire The Fire, I was hurting so bad. The pain of my hurt was overwhelming. I wrote a poem that I wound up sharing with a total stranger. He was the most beautiful black man I’d ever seen actually. Well, maybe to me he was because he spoke for God. He told me to lighten up, because God loves me so much and that I am God’s OWN SPECIAL PRINCESS!! Tears fall even now. 50 yrs. old, overweight, and crying like a baby because my heavenly Father called my HIS PRINCESS!! I was so excited that I cried on his shoulder, but all I could think was how fast can I get back inside so I can tell my daughter, my Pastor and text my husband?

    “Paul asked God to heal him of his ailment three times? Like Paul, I begged, pleaded and demanded healing, but I pleaded hundreds of times. Somehow, it seemed, if I could just drum up enough of this emotion called faith, then God would be obligated to grant me healing.”

    He said that my request was granted. I was healed. I wasn’t sure from what though. I know now. He didn’t take away the cause of my pain: the hurt, the molestations, the neglect. What He took was my depression. I asked for him to take that away for years. I’ve begged. I’ve pleaded. And I was just never good enough for Him to want me or to heal me.

    “My own faith failed the test—completely. I fell flat on my spiritual face. The truth is that He picked me up out of the pit of destruction I was digging myself into, cleaned all the mud and muck off my heart, and placed me firmly back where I belonged—on the solid rock of His faithfulness.”

    I’m not sure about this part. Here I am wondering if I lost my gift. Scared out of my mind, jumpy, self-pitying….overwhelmed, grumpy….. I just went from this amazing high to oh, that’s real! I tapered off my depression medication and now I’m not only off of it, but my body is off of it too. And now, I’m feeling, well, everything! And I’m still me. I still have a hard time saying no. So all the activity from ATF to now: Kate’s joint birthday with a friend, Katie so very sick with strep throat, my Dad out to visit, school out and all the field trips and dances and last minute band performances…then down to Redding to help my Dad again a bit and visit with friends. Finally some time off! And I’m completely overwhelmed by all that needs to be done around here. I’m feeling hopeless again, self loathing. WHY can’t I do it all?? And why is it so hard to find a beginning around here? Stuff everywhere I look! On the tables, in boxes in the corner, in cupboards, just everywhere. Kate wants to have a friend over. Stephanie wants to have a girls day out to window shop. And I just want a break! Have I failed God? My Father? Seems like a common theme in my life. My husband, who is very wise, says no.
    The thing is setting limits isn’t my strong point. And I’ve been so frightened by the things that I’ve been feeling. I just thought I’d managed to throw my gift away. That I’d abandoned God. I believe in God. I believe in my Savior. Just not so sure about believing in me. So what now? This blog was a wonderful window into that place of getting away from me – I am not alone. My trials have been different to be sure. And I want to tell someone all about them. When God says it’s right. But thank you for this. We are not alone in our struggles and our trials. Kinda like that weaving loom in Prince of Egypt, we can see the cloth, but we have no idea how it’s all going to come together. God sees the Big Picture. Praise Jesus for that! And hopefully now, I can rest in His love and His security. Thanks again for sharing. God is blessing me through you. And thank you heavenly Father!!

  17. Dear Pamala, You are most certainly NOT alone! Yes, you have the Spirit who so gently and persistently is pursuing you whether you “do it all right” or not, but you are also crafted to be part of a community of Jesus followers. In fact, your section of the Story is essential for ALL of us as we live and grow together. So please do tell your story, and let God write a whole slew of appendixes so we all grow and learn from it- both those triumphant times and the troubles moments. My initial hearing from God was just the beginning of learning to listen. I, too, often get overwhelmed- we’re learning to do this right! I have found tremendous help in slowly listening through Genesis 1. There are some treasures there about how to be creative with our time.
    Getting off meds takes so much courage! You might want to look up Leslie Vernick’s books. She writes about real life and how to deal with troubles at the Cross and in the Spirit. Her books are filled with the Word and hope- God bless, Diane

  18. Sarah E Cutten

    Dearest, Dearest Dianne;
    It is with so many tears running down my face that I come to you and ask for forgiveness, because you were one of the women I so looked up to as being Perfect and that You were the Perfect Pastor’s Wife too!
    You see, until now, I had you up on a giant petestal with other women such as Mrs. Joyce Rickard, Julie Bowman, Mrs Maxine Ostby, Mrs. Alice Wilhelm, Mrs. Madra Hollsinger, Suzanne Lorente, your mom: Mrs. Waterman; for whom I thought had the strongest relationship with God and that NOTHING MAJOR WOULD EVER TOUCH THEM AS THEY WERE AS CLOSE TO PERFECT AS YOU COULD BE HERE ON EARTH!
    I am so sorry that I judged you. I thought that when we first heard that you were having trouble with your hearing, I thought for sure that God had healed you completely and that had no hearing problems now. I am so sorry, and I hope and pray that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
    with a most humble heart , I come……..
    Sarah
    (you would have possibly known me as Georgia Mitchell, or at least your brother might remember me as his girlfriend at the time, Cheryl, was the one that invited me to LGCC and I met Dave that way.)

    • Dear Sarah,
      We shared the same very false theology… that somehow God would keep all pain away from those who work so, so hard to get it so, so right. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? And yet God in His lovingkindesss has always taken those hard things and given us gifts in the midst of them. “Treasures in the darkness” Isaiah named them. Every one of those women you’ve listed has stories about those treasures… hurts and pains and failures and loss… found in that secret place. Its where His presence is, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

  19. Patty Partridge

    Dear Diane. After attending Sunsest Pres for over 23 years, I decided I needed a church with more heart and lovingkindess in a more casual, heartfelt manner. I have attended both the Solid Rock downtown and out in Beaverton and I absolutely love the sermons. What with my progressive hearing loss, the nerves between my brain and ears are dying and, one day, I, too, will be totally deaf. My hearing in my left ear is gone; my hearing in my right ear provides me 45% hearing and continues to diminsh. While I have accepted this, I just don’t quite know what to do about the music being so loud; it really hurts my ears. I have tried sitting in several differnt places but it just doesn’t help. I hunger to be a part of Solid Rock, Beaverton, and be there for the fabulous energy and preaching. Do you have any suggestions. Thank you for all that you shared on this blog; I cried and cried not realizing just how hard it is to be hearing impaired; like you, I keep a smile on my face, struggle to hear but, mostly, being in an large crouds, restaurants, anywhere, the challenge has become almost too great.

    I would love to hear more about the Women’s Ministries. Thank you, Diane, for being just you. Warm regards, Patty Partridge

    • Dear Patty,
      The music in our church IS loud… on purpose. We are reaching a generation who worship differently than we did… loud and full of passion and raw wonder. For those of us with less than usual hearing, that presents a problem. As you well know, the worse we hear, the lower the threshold of tolerance for sound. And so I come into our worship with more than my ears. I enter in with all my passionate younger brothers and sisters with a full heart and a desire to learn from this generation how to worship fully. We give them a great gift when we graciously step aside from our own preferences and honor theirs.
      And you might try those squishy ear plugs just to make you more comfortable! I’d love to talk more to you about living with hearing loss.
      Looking forward to more, Diane

  20. Sarah Hovley

    Dear Diane,
    A friend told me about your story and sent me the link. Thank you for writing this testimony of God’s great faithfulness! I too walked a very similar road about 13 years ago when I very suddenly lost the hearing in one ear, now with a constant ring. I also had vertigo for a month. I had the same kind of struggle, as my faith took a dive and depression settled in until slowly but surely God spoke to my heart. This is one verse that made an enormous difference and took on a meaning I had never read in it before.
    “Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.
    “For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!].
    Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Amplified Bible
    It amazes me that God has used this affliction so much in my life that I can truly say that I would not have my hearing back if it meant that I would be back where I was in my spiritual walk before the hearing loss. Don’t get me wrong — I am yearning for the day when my new heavenly body hears perfectly! And there are days when the deafness and buzzing is a great frustration. I can’t imagine how much more your struggle must be and you have made me grateful for my good ear. However, I am convinced that our Father’s will can be trusted to be the very BEST always since it comes from His great heart of love, wisdom, and power. May God continue to work in you and through you!
    Looking forward to a lovely conversation on the shores of the river of life someday with you,
    Sarah

  21. Pingback: Illumination Guest: Diane Comer – Regarding Him | LOVE AND RESPECT (NOW)

  22. Michelle

    Thank you for sharing. So powerful. So important.

  23. Malori

    Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing the things the Lord has been speaking into your heart. I, like many others it sounds, had a dear friend recommend your blog knowing that though I may not have a physical hearing impairment I have wrestled with a spiritual one, and still draw great encouragement from your testimony and words. There is such joy knowing there are women truly seeking to know the voice of thier Father intimately and so much strength in knowing your’re not alone in that pursuit! I had struggled to hear His voice and had allowed pride and my own ambitions to speak louder to the point of being a week away from a wedding He did not desire for me. By His grace He spoke through the weaknesses of my heart, and though it was still a time of great turmoil and pain, He brought truth and life to the things the Spirit had been speaking and I simply hadn’t been listening to. Much like you were talking about wanting what those other women experienced, that intimacy and ability to hear Him clearly, I feel I have been on a journey ever since to hear and respond to His voice more and more. Recently that has drawn me into some adventures I never would have imagined!!! … including biking across the US to raise funds and awareness for poverty… He’s a fulfiller of dreams larger than we can piece together and knows and authors the passions of our hearts. May your ministry continue to bless and challenge us all in our pursuit of our Beloved!

  24. Joy

    Diane, My friend Ally recommended I read your blog after I noted that my mother had lost her hearing when I was young and how much struggle that caused in our relationship. I didn’t mention that this same thing was happening to me now at 26 years old. I am in the beginning stages of degenerative hearing loss, which is five generations deep. My sister is nearly deaf at 30. I still have fine hearing, but there is notable loss. The doctors have not given me a timeline, but it could be that one day I wake up unable to hear. Even now I am sitting in lecture at Seminary listening to a professor as he discusses the Old Testament. I hear him just fine, but I become anxious thinking that someday I could sit in a lecture hearing nothing by the echo of silence.

    I am encouraged to read your story, though I am only beginning to understand some of the pain. I am 32 days from being married and I wonder, “What if I can’t hear my love someday? What if I can’t hear the giggles and wimpers of our children?” I ache at the fear of that reality. I am incredibly social, so not being able to hear my best friends makes me want to weep. Words and sound are everything to me. I am studying to be a preacher and have a degree in journalism.

    I was sharing my diagnosis with a women’s group and one of the women happens to work with children who are born deaf. She said, “Joy, you might not be able to hear, but you will never lose your voice.” Since I have already learned language, I have a great opportunity to continue to speak. I am encouraged by her words, yet I know this could be a tough road ahead.

    I know God is faithful. I have been through so much already and he has not forgotten me. Thank you for your story. I will keep reading as you sit in the silence. It causes me to hope.

    • diane

      Dear Joy,
      I know all about the fear… it is real and terrifying and full of unanswered questions. But I can say this: with a cochlear implant(if you go completely deaf), you will be able to hear well enough to teach and speak and talk to people. Its not “normal” hearing but it works well enough to involve me fully in ministry. Just last weekend I taught with my husband about the spiritual training of children- fully able to communicate clearly.
      In case that is the way ahead for you, I’d strongly advise you to keep yearly appointments with a really good audiologist. The technology is changing so rapidly and keeping those nerves functioning even a little will make a difference if you do get a cochlear.
      For now… relish every real sound. Don’t rush- walk and savor birds singing and wind in the trees and children’s laughter. Yes, you can fully love and be loved- I’ve been married 35 years and my deafness only brings us closer.
      More than anything, I do know that I hear the Father so much clearer now…
      Love, Diane

  25. wow. what a powerful testimony of God’s grace.
    thank you for bearing open your honest and heartfelt struggles.. it is through your words and story that God speaks volumes. you are right.. in the silence, He does speak.

    thank you for sharing the psalm as well. (I need to memorize it).

    may I learn to wait upon Him in the silence.

  26. Michael Petersmarck

    Hello Sister Diane,

    I am the pastor of Faith Assembly Deaf Church in Pontiac Mi. Deafness is not the end of the world! Most of the community I serve doesn’t see their deafness as a handicap. You are blessed to know what’s coming and can prepare for it.
    Something you can ask your audiologist about is a cochlear implant. For many deaf people who lost their hearing after they had learned to speak, they can be quite effective. (Go to You Tube and type in cochlear implant or hearing for the first time)
    In our church we have a lady who was hard of hearing all her life until one morning she woke up and found herself totally deaf. She came to us for help and began learning sign language. She met a man who had an implant and made the decision to get one herself. It works well for her.
    God bless you as he leads you on this new path. “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”
    Pastor Michael Petersmarck

    • Dear Pastor Peter,
      Thank you for your care and concern. It’s not hard to see why God is using you to shepherd a whole church of men and women who live in silence. You are so right- deafness is not the end of the world that I had imagined it would be all those years ago.
      And I do have a cochlear implant now- it is fabulous! In the right circumstances I hear incredibly well.
      God bless you and your people, Diane

  27. Mary

    I have been struggling all week on trusting someone i love. I came to this website and the words He speaks in the silence healed my heart. Thanks.

  28. Tina

    As I was reading your story, I had no choice but to cry, because I am in a similar situation. Not being deaf but I am 32 years old and have suffered from chronic pain for the last few years. I have tried everything and nothing has worked much. I am experiencing the same feelings as you did. Loneliness, isolation, fear, depression, misunderstanding and my husband is a youth pastor as well. Its like you are one this side alone and the world is on the other side. I wake up every day in pain and discomfort and fatigue. I was a normal energetic young lady that woke up going to work every day, had plans and goals and dreams in front of me. I wanted to serve the Lord with all I have but then these pains came along and everything went down the drain. My everyday goal when I wake up is just to make it through the day. No body understands you, has empathy for you and they judge you thinking you are a lazy pastor’s wife that are have made this illness as an excuse not to go to church and be my husband’s side. Anyway, I will not give up praying and asking God to heal me. Please pray for me as well, I will greatly appreciate it but your story really touched my heart and I relate to you so much. God bless you and keep that joy in you always!

    Tina

    • diane

      Dear Tina,
      Your comment has me in tears. I know all those emotions of aloneness… but may I just say this one thing, as a woman who too long suffered in silence: bring trusted friends into your pain. Yes, some will say the wrong thing when they should say nothing- but don’t allow people’s stumbles to prevent you from friendships with people like those 4 men in Jesus’ story who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus when he was not able to help himself. Having 4 friends like that will relieve the added burden of feeling misunderstood- and will open your heart to listen to ways you may be handling this pain that may hurt you.

  29. Erica Merrihew

    Diane,
    I have heard many stories about the kind of woman you are. stories of your greatness and your heart. Stories about the dynamic duo that you and your husband are. I have seen your husband speak and tell stories of your family but I have yet to meet the woman behind the stories. God asked me to read this blog tonight and I did without having any clue that it would be yours. I also had no clue that I would be sobbing alone in my living room while reading it. Your story is compelling and extremely encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope to meet you one day.
    I tend to do that thing where I pray with “extra-super-faith” when it comes to healing, hoping that it will make a difference. I get frustrated when it doesn’t, or I get discouraged thinking its something wrong with me. But your right, God cherishes His children and wants to shower us with gifts but suffering is His bigger plan for our joy (Love how you put that). Sometimes its hard to see the bigger picture when your in a tough season…and even when your not, really. Thank you for reminding me that God cherishes us and I that my genuine faith is enough without drumming up some greater emotional faith. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your heart and wisdom. Now I know the stories are true :]

  30. Lisa

    Thank you for sharing. Your story helped me to feel my pain, sob it out and hear once again His voice. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *