My Hearing Problem

January 6, 2010 | 26 comments

Dad needed them badly, but he didn’t want them at all.

He was afraid he’d look like an “old fart,” with chunks of hard plastic hanging on his ears, squealing with feedback now and then. So years passed, and he refused the hearing aids, and his world became more and more muffled.

He’d respond in conversation with a repeated refrain: “What? What did you say?”

He acquiesced a couple years ago, and was fitted with a set of hearing aids that tuck discreetly behind the ear. We remind him what a dashingly handsome man he is (and he really is!).

When I see the flesh-colored plastic behind his ears, I remember my own hearing problem.

I need hearing aids, too — not for my physical ears, but my spiritual ones.

The world is shouting at me with buzzing Blackberries, whirring washing machines and spiral-bound schedules that read like run-on sentences, page after scribbled page.

“God where are you?” I cry out. “What did you say?”

And I think of the people who seem to hear Him so well over the din of their day. They say things like: “God told me the other day…” or “God spoke to me this morning over breakfast …”

They readily quote Scripture, and have answers, and seem poised under pressure. And me? I stumble and fumble and jumble the words and can’t hear the Voice.

Maybe I’ve been too proud, at times, to wear my hearing aids.

The National Institutes of Health report that only about one out of five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually use them.

Perhaps they think their hearing isn’t so bad after all? Perhaps I think the same.

But in my inner spirit, I know this: My hearing problem isn’t too small; my pride is just too big.

The voice of that green monster named Pride shouts: “You don’t need God’s help. You can handle it on your own.”

I know how sweetly the Voice speaks when I do wear my hearing aids. I scold my busy-self for not doing so often enough: When I know how much better I hear with hearing aids, why do I sometimes refuse?

And so I push the pause button on my life to listen for the still, small voice of the Great Big God. I mute the voice of the green monster, and I put on my hearing aids like this:

I fall into the secondhand chair with the wooden arms, and pull the prayer shawl over my shoulders. I light the HOPE candle, and open the Book. And in the Living Words, He speaks. I don’t hear an audible Voice, but I hear reverberations from Spirit to spirit. He woos me with His Voice in the Word. Today, I hear Him in 1 Samuel 3.

“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Jennifer! Jennifer!”*

Then Jennifer said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And the LORD said to Jennifer: “See, I am about to do something … that will make ears tingle.” *

(*A revised version of 1 Samuel 3:10-11, with my name inserted for Samuel’s.)

Lord, Forgive me for the times I pass by the chair, and turn my back to the Voice that woos: “Jennifer! Jennifer!” Your Word is my best hearing aid. Strip me of my pride, and draw me back into Living Letters that make ears tingle. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. Amen.”

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I walk with Ann Voskamp as her community explores spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the heart of God. Today, we gather to explore: “Listening to God.” Will you join us over there? Ann “hears Him” well.

by | January 6, 2010 | 26 comments


  1. Pam at beyondjustmom

    Oh, how I relate to this post, Jennifer! Our fathers must be quite similar ;-).
    Some of us are hard of hearing, and some of us are hard of listening.
    May we learn to listen well to that which is most important.

  2. nAncY

    good words, jen

  3. Anne Lang Bundy

    Wow, Jennifer. What a profound and unsettling observation you've made. I pray the Lord will keep the lesson fresh for me.

  4. Shirl

    I am guilty of not hearing Him lately. The noise of life took over, drowning out His voice.

    Thanks for this think-piece this morning.

  5. jasonS

    There's nothing like His voice! As you said, spirit to spirit He shares His love and goodness. I just want the tenacity to press deeper when that voice doesn't seem so readily accessible. Thanks Jennifer.

  6. A Simple Country Girl

    Me, too. Oh Lord, me too. It looks like we are at the same place today with learning to listen by using more than ears.

    How often do we get in our own way?


  7. Andrea

    Oh, my!! This really hits home on so many levels. Great post, Jennifer!
    Thank you!

  8. Monica Sharman

    I love the look of your listening place.
    Thanks for this nudge. I acknowledge my hearing problem. I want to be like those good listeners, too!

  9. Deborah Ann

    What a beautiful picture of hearing-impaired believers we can become, if we don't keep our listening ears on.

    Great post, and especially great WORD!

  10. Glynn

    OK, OK, I'll finally listen to my wife and get the hearing aid. But did you have to point out that it's about pride?

  11. Lyla Lindquist

    I'm afraid for me it often looks more like my fingers in my own ears and my own voice drowning out His. Spiritually I find myself often more like a three year old, not just missing the voice by choosing not to hear it.


    And thanks.

  12. Kay

    Oh isn't it just like our pride to talk so loudly we can't hear our God? You hit the nail on the head dear friend. Because when I really think about it that is exactly why I can't hear God most of the time. My own ideas are running rampant in my head, throwing a loud party of sorts. I'll have to throw those Prideful partygoers out on their keester, turn the volume down on my busy life and pay better attention. Thanks Jennifer for the tune up!

  13. Sheryl

    That is beautiful. We really do need to push the pause button of life a little more often and just listen.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  14. ~*Michelle*~

    I think my own pride creates selective hearing for me. Or maybe it is because if I begin to hear something that I *need* to hear such as a gentle reminder of a poor choice….I create my own pride filter.

    This stepped on my toes, Jennifer….but it was sure needed!

  15. Wylie

    A good word for all of us friend!!! To be still & know Him. To not pray & run, but pray & wait to hear from Him….

  16. Deidra

    I've always loved that story about Samuel! Making ears tingle. Love it! I never thought to put my name in place of Samuel's. Thank you!

  17. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    I am about to do something that will make your ears tingle. Love, God


    I walk around in a state of eh? more than I'd like to admit. I think the worst is that I often turn the music, etc. louder b/c I'm either afraid to hear what God might say or for some other undeserving reason.

    I thought of you as I wrote my post today.
    ~ Wendy

  18. Laura

    Oh, this is so real, Jennifer. Don't I need to do the same?

    My son had his hearing tested today (go figure). Poor boy, he has had so much trouble with his ears that he doesn't know what it is to hear normally. The test shows he is hearing only normal conversational speech in his left ear (no whispers) and in the right, he can only hear yelling. It broke my heart. But there is hope. He has sinusitis and the doctor prescribed some meds to help relieve the pressure.

    I need my medicine too. It's in the Word, the Sword of the Spirit.

    I just love the idea of your prayer shawl. I'm going to have to start looking for one of those!

    luv to you.

  19. Karen

    Oh, how beautifully you have reminded us of this hearing problem…the picture of your quiet place just warms my heart…I am turning up my hearing aids now so I won't miss a thing!

  20. Graceful

    Jennifer I do love this! You have such an incredible way with words…and I like the metaphor of the hearing aids. I so need them! Just reading this post has encouraged me to turn up mine.

  21. elaine @ peace for the journey

    I've been desperately listening for the voice of God in my last 2 months. I've heard him here and there, a few times profoundly in my spirit. When that happens, I hunger for more of it. I want to know God at the deepest level. Some days, I live that want better than others. Today has been a good day. Yesterday? Well, not so good. Through it all, I just keep pressing into the heart of God, believing that sooner rather than later, I'll hear that familiar echo again, knowing that the Divine rests on my shoulder.

    By the way, have you read any of Margaret Feinberg? Her "sacred echo" is a stunner. I think you'd love it.


  22. Jennifer

    I am like you–I have a hard time hearing God's voice over the din of daily life. But when I do hear, it's obvious. I am thankful for a God who keeps speaking even when we have trouble hearing.

  23. Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife

    We have so much noise in this world, it's hard to hear the voice that matters above all. We have to be intentional about listening. That is a sacrafice, but so worth it.

  24. theonethingps274

    I love this: "See, I am about to do something … that will make ears tingle." Thank you for another thought provoking and inspiring post!! Be Blessed, Angie in GA

  25. mom2six

    Jennifer – How timely. The word for this week of prayer is hope. May the light of Hope be lit in our hearts daily. Lovely! Thank you!

  26. K-Sue

    Thought I was clicking on something else, but came up with this post instead – I must have needed it. I KNOW I needed it. Thank you for speaking about your very personal experience that has universal application.


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