Hearing aids – super! Many people I meet blame their hearing deficit on their age. I could do that, but my hearing deficit started at a very early age, an inheritance from my Stimmel relatives. My grandfather Stimmel sometimes used an ear “horn.” Mostly he cupped his hand behind his ear to listen. Mother had a deficit, as did her sister. Most of their children use hearing aids.

The definition of hearing is: 1. Perceived by ear, 2. To gain knowledge of, 3. To listen with attention. 4. To heed. Those in the armed forces know all these definitions. Without my hearing aids, I fail these four definitions with varying degrees. Mine is the first generation to have the blessing of hearing aids. Fortunately, I don’t know of anyone in the next generation needing them.

I still need repetition in various settings. For instance, sitting at a table in a noisy location, watching a play or listening to a lowly tuned electronic device. Carrying on a conversation using a phone is often a trial.

The problems in most cases while wearing hearing aids are number one: I am not aware of someone talking to me. I must be looking at someone to hear what they say. Number two: When people don’t speak distinctly, many people don’t put ending sounds on their words. Number three is when several people are speaking at the same time, I can’t separate them and don’t know which voices are talking to me.

Good hearing aids are expensive, but I appreciate the availability of the technology, making my hearing almost normal much of the time.

My grandchildren and some friends ask me occasionally, “Do you have your hearing aids in?” When home alone, I don’t put them in. Because of that, I sometimes leave the house without them. I literally am handicapped without them. It is a struggle to try not to appear inept. Why would I leave home without them? Due to hairspray causing trouble with their function, hearing aids are the last thing I apply before I leave the house, but sometimes forget.

I have worked hard over the years to listen to what I needed to hear. I learned to shut out what I think doesn’t apply to me. Surely, I made mistakes; but it has become my method to try to overcome my hearing difficulties.

I will also admit I can become involved in a task and ignore my surroundings. This may have involved my hearing struggles, but I think it is more of a learned behavior. Over the years I noticed this in close relatives on my dad’s side of the family. Admitting my family has shortcomings have helped my personal growth. Understanding this has given me authority to work on them, and the sense of humor which I have inherited serves me well.

Along with the good side of hearing, there is bad side, which is spiritual. There are voices shouting at us to conform to the world’s standards. I think I’d rather be like an ostrich, and have my head (and ears) in the sand sometimes. But I need to live in this world. The Bible says, “but don’t be part of it.” That means I must not listen to all the voices in the world, but consistently keep listening to the voice of God. I can hear him because he speaks to me from the Bible, and from a voice within. For this I am most thankful.

Romans 12:2 further explains that we must not put more importance on worldly events than on spiritual needs. “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that your may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

This week, I had the pleasure to mainstream a three-day Gospel Concert from Graceland. I enjoyed it tremendously. One group which was there, Legacy 5, was at the ARK encounter when I was there last summer where I bought a shirt from them which says, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” Jim Reeves sang a song with those words many years ago. It is a paraphrase from I Peter 2:11 (New International Version) “Dear Friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” Yes, we who belong to the Kingdom of God are foreigners in this land. That’s a truth that is dear to my heart.

The Bible says in Proverbs 15:31, “The ear that hears the reproof of life abides among the wise.” I like that verse. It frees me up to accept who it is that God has formed me to be. Hearing deficit and all.

Betty Blyler lives in New Berlin. For comments, questions or speaking engagements, e-mail: blyler@dejazzd.com.

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