Monday, November 2, 2009

Quietly Thankful

November is a month of giving thanks, "Thanksgiving." The discipline of giving thanks in all circumstances keeps our focus, cleanses our perspective, keeps us hopeful. During November, I want to begin each post with something I am thankful for; today I'm starting with a hard one for me.

Today, I am thankful I can whisper.

I love to sing and used to enjoy singing with praise teams and in special music. I was a teacher who used the tool of my voice daily. For a girl who loves to sing and teach, it was a vocal season of plenty. That was before.

As missionaries in Asia, we lived in a heavily polluted, tropical environment. There were days we could literally "see" the air, and I could wipe the gray grime off of everything from tables and countertops to eyelids and nostrils, daily. Not attractive, but reality. :) Gradually, the combination of air and atmosphere began to change my respiratory system, so gradually that we didn't notice at first. I began to suffer from times of voicelessness, and I experienced occasional asthma issues. I adapted, using a whistle to call the kids in the house and praying intently for the times when ministry required my voice. While visiting a remote hospital compound, I ended up as a patient during the night, gasping for air.

Returning to the US, my sentences were short and my air supply fragile. I wasn't even able to join in congregational singing in church services. I stood silently, grieving the loss of my voice. Multiple doctors weighed in with opinions. One said it needed time to heal. Another said it would be better in about 3 years. Another said it would never return. A voice specialist tried to help.

As gradually as it left, it began to return, but in a smaller measure than before. My response inside, where no one but the Lord saw, ran the gamut from deep sadness to frustration to anger and confusion. I wondered how I could worship without a voice. How could I teach without a voice? How could I communicate or be a friend or do anything without a voice? God was working on more than my voice.

It was finally restored enough to do normal things, and I am thankful, but the freedom to sing has not come back. Prayer accompanies opportunities to speak, knowing that each breath will come from the Lord. I know it always did; I just wasn't remembering that daily. Now I do.

Once or twice a year, my voice will still be completely taken back. It is my "weak link" whenever I get any illness, am run down, or experience great emotion. My voice feels it. God has dealt with my heart in this, reminding me that my voice is His to give when it suits His purposes, and His to take when it is for the good in His plan or in my life. And He is still good and kind.

That doesn't mean it's easy. It can be inconvenient and frustrating and disappointing. I have to WORK at patience and contentment each time I realize I am losing my voice. I have to hold loosely to all that God has given me, knowing all things are HIS. I've learned I can and must worship and give praise, even if it's not in my "favorite" way. I can praise God silently. I've learned to use my own periodic quiet to listen more, pray more, and wait on the Lord patiently. I've learned that when I have a voice, I need to use it well and make the most of it. I never know how long I may have the pleasure.

Paul had a "thorn" that he lived with and learned to accept. So many do. His attitude is my goal, and one I'm aiming for each quiet, single day at a time:

Phil. 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

My voice left last week, and I pray it will return in another week or so, but today I am thankful for more quiet to hear God. I am thankful for the ability to whisper that He has granted me. My heart IS singing ... You just can't hear it. :)

Quiet, but thankful,

6 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Kristi_runwatch said...

Thank you for sharing, dear Julie. I'll be praying for you this week.

Ann said...

I like that scripture. That is one I rely on most when I am facing difficult times.
I hope you get to feeling better soon!
Take care and God Bless!

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Julie - I had laryngitis this week and it was SOOO frustrating!!! I couldn't homeschool, answer the phone, sing, or train my children...I experienced a small piece of your frustration - I can't imagine struggling with this regularly - my heart goes out to you!

Your voice in your body may be weak - but your voice on the internet is strong Julie!! Keep up the blogging - we are listening!!

Elisa @ Extravagant Grace said...

Oh, Julie! I feel your pain and understand about the experience of thorns. You're right to focus on what the Lord is teaching you rather than on the absence of what you want. I will pray for you!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Thank you, blog friends, for your encouragements and words of truth. It's good for my spirit AND my voice. :)

Cindy Bultema said...

I just love hearing your stories, dear Julie! Someday I would love to sit and hear more of your journey (Will you be in Michigan soon??). How is your voice today?? May the Lord infuse you with His peace and His patience and continue to fill your heart with a joyful song! God's richest blessings to you!!