Sunday, November 21, 2010

stopped up

Have you ever noticed how much we depend on being able to hear ourselves properly? When I talk - or sing - there is an expectation of how my own voice is going to sound to me.  I'm sure the same is true for you.  When we hear a recording of yourself, it doesn't sound quite right, does it?  Yeah, me neither.

So right now, I'm all messed up.  My sinuses and such have been acting up for the last week or so, and it has gotten to the point where it affects my hearing.  I have always had trouble with my ears.  I had frequent ear infections as a child and a few as an adult. (Yeah, I know...who said I'm an adult now?)  I've had two significant ear surgeries and spend most of my life with a tube in my left ear.  So when allergies flare up or I get a head cold, my ears are along for the ride.

So here's the deal.  I do not sound like myself to me right now.  I am positive I sound exactly the same to other people, but not to myself.  In my own head, my voice is hollow, loud, and grating.  I can't stand to hear it.  And that really ticks me off on a Sunday morning.  Why?  Because I love to sing and it's an important part of worship for me.  When I can't sing out confidently, I feel almost, well, paralyzed.

As I was reflecting on this during church, two things occurred to me.  Not especially deep thoughts, but worth sharing.

  1. On the positive side: We have to live our lives by faith, not by sight.  Or in this case, not by hearing.  There is absolutely nothing different about the way my voice sounds to the outside world.  Nothing.  Unless I hold back or sing differently because I lack confidence.  Today we sang a beautiful rendition of The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.  I wanted to sing it from the bottom of my heart, but I was distracted by my voice and it wasn't easy.  So, how do you live your life?  Do you live it by how you feel and how you think you come across to others?  Or do you live it by faith in the One who gave you life, without worrying about how it "sounds" to other people?  As for me, I know which way I want to live.  And I know it doesn't always happen that way.
  2. On the other hand, sometimes I talk too much.  Sometimes I think my opinion is the only one that matters, and I want to make sure everyone hears it.  I can go on and on, without listening to what others are saying.  Yes, you could conclude that I like to hear myself talk.  What a relief it must be for others when my ears get stopped up, so that I no longer like to hear myself.  So, I have reached the conclusion that sometimes God will allow discomfort in our lives just so we will stop being so focused on ourselves and listen to the needs of others.
I hate this feeling!  It's no fun to continuously sound like I'm living inside an oil drum.  But maybe it's good.  When adversity enters my life, what should I do?  Should I keep on plugging away, confident that  God is still God and I can rest in that?  Yes.  Should I let it change parts of my life where maybe I've been too self-centered?  Again, yes.

Both: Ignore it...and let it change me.

I love paradoxes.

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