Faith, Pandemic and.... Being Deaf

When I woke up from the surgery that took my hearing, God reassured me that, in possibly the darkest time of my life, He was still with me.
The night before surgery, I’d listened to Handel’s Messiah.
‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5

In dark times, God is still with us. Jesus, Light of the world, is still alive. But that doesn’t mean the dark times won’t happen, or that we should pretend them away. The Light shines in the darkness.
To say, ‘I’m 100% delighted that I lost my hearing’ would not, for me, ring true, and God wants us to be real.
We are living through a pandemic which, for many, is a dark time. Life changed – and changes – almost overnight. God is still with us, and He wants us to be real about our fears and disappointments.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I was due to be interviewed at the start of lockdown, by Ruth O-Reilly-Smith on UCB radio, but lockdown prevented me from going into the studio to record.
I knew other people would simply do these interviews by phone. I also knew I can’t do that. I emailed Ruth and said, ‘I can’t do it. You’d better find someone else.’
She replied, ‘perhaps we can make it work, leave it with me.’
And so I had the privilege of being Ruth’s first Zoom interviewee.
She figured out how to link Zoom up in the studio, and interviewed me that way, speaking clearly for me to lipread on-screen, and patiently typing in the chat box things I misunderstood.

A light in the darkness.
Showing me Jesus.

Something I’d never have anticipated about the pandemic is that it would make me feel more deaf.
I can’t lipread people who are wearing masks.
Masks are a wall, shutting me out.
And then, I see a mask lowered for me.
The wall crumbles.

A light in the darkness.
Showing me Jesus.

I struggle on Zoom, particularly in groups.
Which face in a box is talking? Where should I look?
By the time I work that out, another face in a box is talking.
And then, a message pops up in the chat.
‘Hi Emily!’
It’s from one of the faces in a box.
We connect.

A light in the darkness.
Showing me Jesus.

Church moves online, and I discover – probably very belatedly – live captioning. Automatically generated subtitles showing me what is being said. I enjoy and am blessed by online church; sometimes amused by the occasional subtitling errors, sometimes benefitting from them.

Psalm 23:1: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I like nothing’
My mind automatically corrects ‘like’ to ‘lack’, as I know it should read.
But afterwards, I still think about it.
Do I ‘like nothing’?
There’s a lot to ‘not like’ at the moment, lots of darkness, and in it all we have a Shepherd. We have Jesus. We lack nothing.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Back in pre-lockdown days – remember them?! – I was out for lunch with a friend who, before we sat down, automatically checked that the environment would be conducive to me lipreading.
I thanked her, and said that her deaf awareness impressed me.
Ann replied, ‘I don’t think of it as deaf awareness. I just think, “What would I need if I were Emily?”’

A light in the darkness.
Showing me Jesus.

What would I need if I were Emily?
Perhaps that’s it.

As we – communities, churches, groups, individuals - seek to navigate pandemic darkness alongside each other, helping others through difficult times, perhaps we could ask, What would I need? What would I need if I were in their position?

After the Zoom radio interview, Ruth said, ‘Working out how to do that was well worth it.’
Learning how to support each other might take time, but it will be worth it, and it will help us grow together as the body of Christ. Many parts, but one body (1 Corinthians 12).

What would I need?

A light in the darkness.
Showing me Jesus.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Emily Owen

Emily is an author and public speaker. She began writing following a medical diagnosis which turned her life plans upside-down. After publishing her first devotional books, in the 30 Days series, Emily published her memoir, Still Emily. Her most recent writings – The Power of Seven and God’s Calling Cards - combine her personal experiences with biblical teaching and reflections.
Emily’s first children’s book is coming in 2021, and another in the 30 Days series.
Emily is still surprised to describe herself as a writer and speaker, but she has no hesitation in calling herself a fan of flowers, candles, purple, stars, and making her nieces and nephews giggle.

Posted: 10/11/2020 08:00:00 by You Belong Filed under: blogger, disability, faith, guest, illness, pandemic

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