Broken or Beautiful
Lipreading Mom, Shanna Groves, wants to know “Would you describe hearing loss as brokenness or beautiful?”, and I feel compelled to answer:
Hearing loss cuts both ways. For me, deafness has always held beauty. I witnessed one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known live a life of purpose, with never a complaint of those things she lacked, among them, hearing. I saw beauty in everything my grandmother did. To think that I could be like her in any way was a positive. I felt special sharing her deafness. We were connected in a way that no other members of our family were.
My hearing loss taught me so much. It made me who I am. Though I’d love to hear again, I am ever thankful for what I know because of my deafness. That’s the beauty.
The broken comes when you’re down in that dark place, feeling vulnerable, sad, angry, and riddled with grief. Hearing loss wrecked your life, and makes it hard to get along in the world. It takes time to acclimate and to learn to live with confidence again.
Broken also comes when your third-grade son brings home an audio cassette tape his teacher recorded for you for Mother’s Day. (Mrs. Kelly had each student read “Love You Forever” to their mother on tape.) My family gathered around as my son gave me his gift. The tape was placed in the cassette player, and I waited for it to start. I sat looking confused when no sound came. I looked from one face to another as my family looked on in anticipation of my reaction. Then, I burst into tears when I realized that the tape was playing, but I couldn’t hear it. My family surrounded me in that broken moment, and I saw beauty in their love and comfort. But the sting of being broken remained for a time.
Broken is when you’re watching an interesting story on TV about the shortage of buglers to play Taps at WWII Veteran’s funerals, complete with a demonstration of a newly developed digital bugle that requires no musical ability to play. It looks and sounds like the real thing, and no one is the wiser. As the demonstration begins, I strain to hear the Taps of my memory. When there is no sound, I turn up the volume and wonder what’s wrong with the TV. I try to adjust the controls so that I can hear. Then it dawns on me, it’s not the TV that’s broken, but me. So I ask my husband to come and listen, and he confirms that the sound is there. Another broken moment that hits me in the chest like a freight train.
I retreat to my room to cry it out, because this is just one more incident in the chain of events that drives me to rock bottom of a progressive hearing loss that began in childhood. Once there, I’m alone in the dark and nothing seems to work anymore.
However, there is good news… in my case, God always provides me with a release once I’ve reached the bottom. He then puts something or someone in my path to help me collect my composure and find the confidence to climb toward what’s beautiful once again.
Here, almost at the end of my hearing ability, I take comfort in the knowledge that I have the power to transcend brokenness. That IS beautiful!