What did you say? I can’t hear you. Did you lose your voice?
I never truly appreciated the Gospel story found in Luke 1 when Zechariah doubted God’s plan for his life to have a son in his old age and the angel said, “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk” (Luke 1:20).
Recently, I contracted a bad case of chronic laryngitis lasting more than three weeks, which has made me appreciate the gift of being able to talk, cheer, sing, and shout more than ever! Before this event, I never knew how wonderful it is to speak and be heard, nor did I really consider how the use of my voice might affect others.
For example, prior to this, I knew that my vice of yelling at my children should be tossed out the window, but I had “justified” it as a necessity in the age of screens, headphones, and kids who were constantly distracted.
Weeks without a voice has taught me some serious lessons regarding parenting, my faith, and life in general!
1. God is not a yeller
One lesson I have learned is that God is not someone who hollers or yells. So why did I think this was a great way to motivate others for change and action?
Just think about 1 Kings 19:12: “After the earthquake, fire — but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.”
No one likes to be yelled at, hear a yeller, or associate with this behavior. When I developed chronic laryngitis, it was entirely not an option, and I realized that I needed to purge myself of this old crutch. I needed to listen more, speak less, and kick the habit of yelling to the curb whether I had laryngitis or not.
2. Less is best
Speaking more words doesn’t equate to people listening more. Before this illness, I tended to “over-explain” the whys or argue with my children, but when I was forced to whisper to reduce the strain on my vocal chords, I found that just the opposite is true. People had to strain to hear me and would grow tired of listening to me for long, so I had to choose my words wisely if I wanted to be heard.
Much like counting calories to lose weight, I had to reduce my word count to eliminate the excess. A whispering mom can’t argue over silly things, rather she must learn to focus on the key points needed to communicate and give her children the opportunity to show respect and obedience by accepting her softly spoken word as final.
Less is often best when it comes to words spoken. In Matthew 12:36 we read: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak.”
People who can only whisper do not have the luxury of over speaking.
3. I am not a superhero
I asked each child to pray for me so that my voice returns. I didn’t do this to make them worry about me but for them to know that I think their prayers are powerful and valuable. I knew I needed others to pray with me and for me, to help me just as I attempt to do for them. When you are required to whisper, it is an excellent reminder that you have limitations and need the help of the Holy Spirit to live and breathe every day.
Anyone who has battled cancer or even a far less serious illness knows that once you make it to the other side, you appreciate what you have been given. I am confident that this moment will pass and when it does, I will be so grateful for my voice. We are not called to be superheroes but rather holy examples, allowing our troubles to sanctify us and transform us to be more like God.
4. My family is learning to listen for my whisper
“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father” (John 10:14–15).
In a brief amount of time, my children adjusted their listening to hear my light whisper, and they all have helped me reach the person to whom I needed to address. For example, even though my first-grade daughter was next door at the home of a friend, when I whispered to her she responded, “Yes, I hear you, Mom.”
This touched my heart because for years I would “yell” and felt like no one was listening. Because of my “problem,” they had to adjust their listening to hear my voice and came to understand that my words were necessary.
5. Difficult times can be opportunities for growth
God wants to use our weakness to show us how to grow, even in times of difficulty. We should never fear our limitations, and instead allow our shortcomings to be opportunities to turn to Christ for strength and help. Our weakness can teach us how to be humble and appreciative for all we have been given.
Christ reminds us in Matthew 28:20: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Even when we are experiencing something annoying, painful or fatal, we need to know that all life moments are opportunities for growth!
6. Take care of our temples of the Holy Spirit
A key lesson learned over the last few weeks has been that I need to take time out to care for myself and my health. This year, I spent some time re-evaluating how I can care for my “temple of the Holy Spirit.”
This case of chronic laryngitis has taught me to be a better advocate for myself and to never ignore the signs my body is giving just because my plate is full. For example, I was so busy being a “mom” that I would miss doctor’s appointments, eat poorly, and believe that self-care was for “others” instead of me.
Recently, I have returned to early workouts at the gym, scheduled a long overdue doctor appointment, watched what I was eating and reinvested in meaningful relationships, including spending some time away with my spouse. Parents need to step back and make sure they can serve their families by also caring for themselves.
Losing my voice has been an excellent opportunity to become a more reflective and contemplative person and learn from this moment in time. I have slowed down my pace just enough to appreciate the gift of being alive and enjoy the ages and stages of each of my family members.
When we encounter an illness, difficulty, or struggle, it is essential that we take time out for prayer and reflection in order to learn a little from the lessons those instances offer us!