Living In All of Who I Am

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it full well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and In Your book were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:13-16

This verse is one of my favorites! Reading these sweet words reminds me of God’s intentional and originating hand in creating my life.

In this Season of NO, I am making time to remember all the ways God has created me and praying to walk in every step and plan He has for me.

One of the things I have realized about myself is that I have stuffed down some of those parts of my fearfully and wonderfully made self and tried to fit into the “normal” box.

When I was younger, I took sign language classes with a friend of my mom’s. My mom was deaf, and we needed a way to communicate with her a little better. I also had a hearing loss that would eventually become deafness, and I needed a way to communicate outside of trying to understand people’s moving lips.

I loved learning the sign language. I didn’t enjoy why we needed to learn it, but I took to it so naturally.

I struggled with losing my hearing and being different from people around me. My mom and sister used sign language, but not many other people, family or not, didn’t use the sign language outside of that.

It became something to be embarrassed about or another thing to set me apart and make me different.

I became focused on trying to fit in and be as normal as possible. That was pretty difficult, with my speech getting worse and worse as my hearing went away. I worked even harder to read lips well and became more determined not to stand out any more than I needed to.

I missed the sign language. I still signed with my mom when she needed or wanted to use it, but nowhere else, really.

When I got my cochlear implants, I began to hear sound in new ways; like everything else, I worked hard to get the most out of it and be the best with it. I did speech therapy at first and hearing therapy throughout the journey with them.

The better the technology and the better I got at listening with them, the less I used sign language, and it became like an old yearbook buried away in a box somewhere. You take it out to look at it and reminisce every now and again, and then you put it back in the box.

One day, I had some worship music on in the house, and I began to sign as I worshipped. I felt something in my heart start to wake up a little, like that little one who peeks up after waking up from a nap.

Every now and again, I would do the same thing. There were a couple of times at church I felt the urge to start signing during worship, but I hesitated. I began to think about what people might say or if they would look at me funny. I didn’t want to stand out or be different. I didn’t want to be pointed at or stared at, either.

So I just went on worshipping as normal.

Last year, God brought a new friend and me together at a bible study I went to for a short time. She had been praying for a deaf friend. I thought that was cool. I don’t always hear that from anyone. She signs for the deaf ministry at her church.

We have been getting together to do some sign language together. It has been such an incredible blessing, and it has awakened a place in me I had forgotten was there or I just shoved aside for the sake of looking “normal”

The truth is I am a deaf person. I am not ashamed of being deaf at all. It is just a very isolating and lonely place sometimes and many of my memories of my experiences with my deafness and people have been more negative than positive.

I do have bilateral cochlear implants, and I love them. I do well with them; they have been an incredible tool. I have always wanted to hear music and other things. But I did not get them because I am ashamed of my deafness.

I live in a hearing world, and I don’t have a deaf community.

Even as I go through the process of my cochlear implants, I don’t really have people I can share my experiences with who understand. My friends love me, but they can’t fully understand or appreciate what I share, whether the struggles or the full excitement of hearing something you have never heard before.

I believe part of this NO season is for me to say no to some things that may keep me from taking the time to learn sign language again and remember that I am a deaf person. I can hear with the cochlear implants, which is amazing, but that is not all who I am or who I was created to be.

One of my heart’s desire has been to bridge the hearing world and the deaf world. I can’t be a bridge if half of it is in the water or burnt down.

It has been so much fun to have someone to sign with again who has a heart for the deaf community, loves them, and gives them an opportunity to “hear” God’s word and “listen” to a sermon. I know what a difference that made for my mom and me, even as I was a young girl losing her hearing.

Are there parts of you that you have put aside or buried below because you were trying to be normal, or you were afraid of looking different or silly?

Are there parts of God’s creation that you have been embarrassed about?

Are there places God is calling you back to?

I look forward to what God does in this sweet and special friendship. I am excited about growing in my sign language ability, and I am praying for God to use ALL of me and to help me thank Him with my whole heart for the ways He has created me. I am praying this for you, too!