I’m sitting in a small enclosed room within a room, 5 feet by 5 feet, sound proof. A musty smell is in the air resembling the aroma of an old worn couch. I start to feel claustrophobic until I hear the audiologist ask, “Jesse, can you hear me?” I straighten myself in the most attentive way I can.
“Yes”. I reply.
Through my small innocent ears in oversized heavy earphones we begin.
At three years old, before the soundproof room, I had a hard time listening to my parents. When they called me or asked me to do something, I refused. They thought I was merely being disobedient; this sometimes led to being spanked. My behavior was not changing much and my parents grew worried that it might be something more than me being defiant. My mother grew suspicious that I wasn’t able to hear her. One afternoon my mother decided to test me to see if in fact I was having a hard time hearing.
With my back turned towards her she asked me, “Jesse, do you want some ice cream?”
Ice cream was, and still is, (anything with sugar for that matter) my achilles heel.
With no response she approached me a few steps at a time until she was within steps behind me. She then knew it was for my lack of being able to hear her that I did not listen to her when she called on me.
Turns out, both ears were defective.
Through the years my mother worked hard to help me catch up with my speech: I had many more visits to the five by five room with awkward headphones repeating what they wanted me to repeat and raising my hand every time I heard obscure noises.
Adolescent years led to teen years and I started planning what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. At seventeen I was determined to go into law enforcement and be a police officer. I attended college and graduated with a degree in Crime, Law and Justice. I had applied to local law enforcement agencies and was to have a choice between two police municipalities. All I had left to pass was a simple physical.
I was newly married with a newborn on the way when I received the letter I had been waiting for since I was seventeen. To be offered a job as a police officer. Instead of a job offer, the letter from the department was asking to remove myself from the application process because my hearing was not good enough.
I was not good enough because of my hearing.
Squeezing the letter in my hand I filled with anger and bitterness. Completely shattered and broken, I fell onto the bed. Staring up at the ceiling, tears streaming down, my vision becomes impaired as it turns into a mosaic picture.
My wife comes in and she knows. The pain is running down my face.
Helpless to offer words that can change what is, she hugs me.
Anger, frustration, disappointment and more anger was all I felt. I directed all those emotions in daggers straight towards God. I blamed Him for making me the way I was. I blamed Him for giving me “the desires of my heart” yet physically restricted. I felt as though I had wasted four years of my life in college working for something I could never achieve. I was exasperated at knowing there was no amount of work and drive to reverse or change this reality.
Eight years have passed and painful wounds still linger. The one question I ask repeatedly is this, “God, why have you made me the way I am and for what purpose?” I wonder what lies before me or will it merely be a reflection of the past covered in pain and disappointment.
I don’t know what the future holds. I’m not sure what will even happen tomorrow. But I know God has a plan for me and I have to put myself out there. To go to a place where I’m uncomfortable and uncertain. I desperately want answers to all of these questions–but I don’t have them.
So in the meantime, I’ll just hold on to these words.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.