In Romania I have discovered who I really am. I am a nurturer and an organizer. I am a woman who loves to create and to do things well, but I am not a perfectionist and I am not a driver. I always thought I was supposed to be these things (a perfectionist and a driver). Consequently I have often felt defeated and have been unhappy with myself.
I think this is because I was striving to match those perfectionists and drivers around me instead of embracing who I am. So thank you 220 volt blow dryer cord for being used of God to speak to me in Romania. I am happily not winding the cord perfectly and realizing this doesn’t mean I am lazy. I take joy in doing little things.
I am also handicapped. I finally have accepted this in Romania. I am completely deaf in my right ear. People do not realize how much of a handicap this really is. I cannot tell the direction sound is coming from. I could get hit by a car because I don’t hear it coming, so in public when I am alone, I am often hyper vigilant. Recently I strained over the banister in the apt. thinking I was answering Marie downstairs, when in reality she was talking to me while located right behind me. Sounds funny? Most people laugh, but it makes me feel dumb.
I read lips as I only hear about every 3rd word, so if someone talks to me with their back turned to me, I am in a state of confusion and anxiety. I am trying to piece things together and figure out what they are saying. In the meantime I am hoping and praying they don’t ask me a question about whatever it is they are talking about. Often people are upset with me because they know they communicated something to me, but I never heard.
I’ve tried everything to hear in that deaf ear and be normal. As a teen I had surgery for the removal of my stapes bone and microscopically implanting a device that replaced the vibrating bone. I had my hearing on the post-op table, but within a couple days the healing process moved the device out of sync. I had a second surgery and poor instruction of 1970’s post-operative care led to the rare complication of nerve damage to my ear.
As a young lady I even sought prayer at special church services that prayed for healing…..and I did that more than once. I’ve spent more than our monthly mortgage payment on a Trans-ear device – a special hearing aid that picked up sound and transferred it along the bone in the skull to my healthy ear. It didn’t really work.. The current specialists say there is nothing that can be done to restore my hearing.
In Romania, I realized I have been pretending my whole life. and I never realized it. I have pretended to understand what someone was telling me, even if I didn’t hear all of it. I think this was because at a young age I received no accommodations for my hearing loss. If I didn’t hear someone they looked at me as if I was stupid. I also felt stupid when I didn’t understand, because I didn’t know I had a handicap. Not being capable of being what someone expected equaled rejection to me and I suspect pretending was a type of survival.
I also pretended for years to fit in with a church community, unable to be my true self. Who I knew God to be did not match the strict doctrine that the church taught. Worshiping there and being in community there required me to walk on eggshells and pretend to be someone else. Leaving there and coming to Auburn Grace Community Church was the start of me truly walking in truth, being my true self.
Two days ago I took Mercy to the mall on my own. She is so cute and the gal at the register was chatting away to me about her and I smiled silently and walked away. And then it hit me, I was pretending that I understood her. Just like with the deafness, I was in the nasty habit of pretending.
Pretending breeds insecurity in me, because it leaves me confused and conflicted and it’s wrong. Being a lover of truth it shocks me that all these years I have been pretending….because pretending to HEAR or BE or UNDERSTAND something that you don’t is clearly a form of deception. Deception is the exact opposite of truth. No wonder I’ve felt confused and conflicted.
And that shocking Romanian revelation brings me back to my God, my Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwelling in me – how incredibly kind and loving and patient God is with me and all His children. He’s always gently working in me for my good, peeling the layers off and conforming me into His image. He is the TRUTH. This might be why I have always loved prayer. There is no pretending with Him!
I feel so much FREER as I am packing for home. I’m leaving my pretending and the insecurity it breeds in Bucharest. It’s not coming back with me to the states. I’m going to toss it in one of the piles I walk by on a daily basis.
Yesterday when I was shopping, the man at the cash register spoke to me in Romanian.
My reply? “Pardon, I only speak English.”
It felt good.