I’ve recently spent the past few weeks on voice rest. After finding a massive yeast infection and a cyst on my vocal chords, my doctor insisted on medicine and as little speaking as possible for three weeks. It was frustrating to say the least, but I learned several lessons I pray I won’t forget.
Lesson #1: There are so many ways to communicate. I’ve always known this, but I never truly understood that 90% of communication can be passed along with body language, mouthing, facial expressions, signing, writing, and everything in between. I feared being unable to speak for weeks would be unbearable. I actually learned I speak far too much, and don’t spend nearly enough time listening. I’d like to break my talking/listening time into thirds: 2/3rds of my time listening, 1/3rd of my time talking.
Lesson #2: When I needed to whisper, everyone else whispered too.
It’s an amusing study in human behavior but when someone whispers to us, we automatically react in kind. There were so many people whispering to me, I thought I was in a nonstop slumber party.
It was an important reminder: the way we behave is reciprocated. Anger begets anger. Fear breeds more fear. Love births love.
Lesson #3: Being unable to speak is incredibly lonely.
When I was out shopping, running children to appointments, and everything in between, friendly folks would attempt to strike up a conversation. Once they learned I couldn’t speak, their countenance fell. Their gaze would flicker away and they would stand beside me in silence. I wanted to shout, “I’m not deaf! I can still hear you. Please, don’t shut me out because I can’t respond the way you want.”
After reflecting about it for a few days, I realized most were concerned with what they could glean from the interaction. Once they realized the conversation couldn’t be reciprocated, they moved on.
The whole experience has given me a greater compassion for the deaf and mute, for stroke patients and others trapped in worlds of silence. Just because a person can’t verbally respond to me, doesn’t mean they aren’t craving connection. Pushing past our comfort zones may be another person’s lifeline.
Lesson #4: God draws us close in times of isolation.
Yes, during the weeks of illness I felt lonely, but God continually reminded me that being lonely is far different from being alone. He is always there. He doesn’t always remove us from our circumstances because He’s more concerned with trying to mold us into the image of His Son through our circumstances.
In that instance, silence is golden indeed.