Hear the Silence? The Deaf Movers

Tiffany’s boxes were packed. Her beds were stripped. Her closets emptied.

Now we waited for the movers to arrive.

It was Friday morning. The two men finally drove up. But they didn’t say a word.

Instead, they showed us a pad of paper that said, “Good morning.”

They were both deaf.

[click here if you can’t see the video]

Without Your Senses

I don’t want to lose any of my senses. The one I’d miss the most (I think) is sight, but the second is hearing.

  • Without hearing, wouldn’t it be harder to do your job, whatever that job is?
  • Wouldn’t you miss out on ordinary conversations among friends?
  • Wouldn’t your life feel off, without bird whistles and worship music and baby gurgles?

Different, yes.

But poorer? Not necessarily.

Because aren’t we all deaf in some ways?

There are things you hear that I don’t, and things I hear that you don’t. Either through cultural backgrounds or selective listening or innate deficiencies—or because God knows we just can’t bear it yet—we all hear some things but not others. (Example: Where do you get your news? Fox? CNN? Facebook?)

But we all survive with our hearing deficiencies.

Like the deaf movers, we learn work-arounds when we can’t hear. They used their hands for sign language with each other and gestures and facial expressions with us. We made it fine communicating without having to use words.

By sharpening our other senses, we discover that deaf doesn’t mean dead. Even with hearing impairments, we can still listen to each other through the silence.

Can’t Hear God?

And when we can’t hear God?

  • We can pay closer attention to the things we see God doing.
  • We can believe his presence is with us even when we’re not talking.
  • We can grow more courageous as we walk by faith.

Ultimately, our joy isn’t dependent on having all our senses at top notch ability every day.

God is alive and present, in and around us, all the time, whether we hear him or not. (See “3 Spiritual Practices for Paying Closer Attention to God.”)

  • He is still good.
  • Our relationship is still strong.
  • And hope remains present.

Silence Speaks

We discovered last Friday that the deaf movers were very capable of doing their jobs despite not being able to hear. They were joyful men, hard workers, and excellent movers.

Not only did they get the job done quickly and efficiently, their ability to do so with what we might label a deficiency inspired us even more.

Our time with them wasn’t lessened by their lack; it actually was enriched. Not because they were deaf per se, but because they showed us a spirit of resiliency and possibility in the midst of silence.

Their silence spoke loudly.

* * *

Have you experienced a loss of your senses? How did you adapt? Please share in the comments.

43 thoughts on “Hear the Silence? The Deaf Movers

  1. Bill (cycleguy)

    Having a hearing impaired person in the church has been a challenge to me. We have a lady who interprets my sermons and the songs but she can’t be by my side all the time. i started learning sign language but found other things more important. Grrr. But you are also right Lisa. I am sometimes deaf to hearing God. That is the worst of all.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I have tried learning sign language in the past, too, but it definitely is time-consuming. Hopefully if I ever have a real need for it, I can pick it up again and learn quicker. That’s wonderful that you have a lady who interprets your sermons. Such a valuable gift to offer others. I was at a wedding this weekend where the bride’s parents spoke no English at all. I felt so bad for them not being able to understand, but eventually both the man and woman were accompanied by translators so they could understand everything. There are so many ways we can be hearing impaired…

  2. Yvonne Chase

    How inspiring to meet a pair of deaf movers! Wow! Like you, I never want to lose my sight. I need to see! I love the way you said this: “There are things you hear that I don’t, and things I hear that you don’t. Either through cultural backgrounds or selective listening or innate deficiencies…” So true.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it was quite amazing to watch the deaf movers in action. I really wasn’t sure how the communication would work, but it went so well. That was only the first of several moves they were going to make that day, so their service was obviously in high demand!

  3. June

    What an interesting experience, Lisa! I’m always to inspired by people who work around what we consider “disabilities” rather than grow bitter and give up, etc. And yes, we are all deaf to certain things. What challenges me (and I pray not to do the same) is people who simply refuse to hear, rather than hear and agree to disagree. I always hope that I can hear and honor people’s perspectives and beliefs even if I don’t agree with them. Great post! Glad the move went so well, too!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m inspired by them too, June. I pray God would give me grace to do the same if I were in their shoes because it’s hard to imagine the difficulties that would have to be faced.
      Yes, I wonder what we don’t hear that is being spoken…I hope with you that we can hear even when we disagree with others. Not easy, but so important.

  4. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    As a side effect of anesthesia I once lost my sense of taste and smell. It was awful. I never thought about these being awful senses to lose – I first think of sight or hearing. I couldn’t smell anything and food had absolutely no taste. I lost my appetite. I took no enjoyment in eating a meal with family. I couldn’t smell flowers or the smell after a spring rain. You truly don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Fortunately, however, I did regain both taste and smell, but it taught me a lesson not to take them for granted.
    Bev xx

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, my. I’m glad you shared this here, Bev, because I tend to take for granted the senses of smell and taste. I can’t imagine not wanting to eat. It’s one of the major pleasures in my life. 🙂 I’m so thankful that you regained those senses!

  5. Barbara H.

    We used to have deaf neighbors. They both had jobs – I don’t remember doing what. They hosted a large deaf community for pool parties often, and what was funny was that, since they were deaf, they didn’t realize how much noise they were making. There was no loud blaring music like you might find at other parties, but they liked to thwack each other with pool noodles. Ha!

    There was so much “selective hearing” going on leading up to the election, sometimes making it hard to have a real conversation. I’m sure that goes on all the time in ways we don’t realize.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s so interesting about your previous neighbors, Barbara! I noticed that one of the deaf movers did try to speak a word now and again; I can’t imagine how people do it, but I’m glad that they have the perseverance to make their way in a world that caters to the hearing.
      I so agree that selective hearing was very prevalent leading up to the election, and even so now. It seems we all have our biases and it’s hard to break out of them (myself included as much as anybody; just ask Jeff, ha). Really hearing each other is a gift that our country would do well to cultivate more, beginning with me.

  6. Carol

    I had a deaf student (part-time) in my classroom and picked up a lot of signs to communicate with him as much as possible, even though he had an interpreter, I wanted him to be able to communicate with me. I’ve lost a lot, because that was years ago. I remember how much he appreciated my feeble efforts. When we reach out to those with sensory losses (or sensory overloads), it makes a difference! I have one blind eye and never notice, as I do not know what it’s like to have two good eyes. I understand I’m missing out, but I think I’m ok! 🙂

    Glad you chose to value these movers and to share your story!
    Stopping by from Inspire Me Monday

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s beautiful that you learned some sign language for your student when you didn’t have to. I have a friend who is a deaf interpreter and she accompanies college students to their classes. I always thought that would be so interesting, but also so difficult.
      I remember when we first discovered our oldest daughter needed glasses; she didn’t know that how she was seeing wasn’t “normal.” I guess we’re all like that to certain degrees in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your story, Carol.

  7. Ed

    I lost my hearing, temporarily, one day due to the buildup of earwax…in both ears. It’s a frightening thing to go through. Luckiliy a quick visit to the emergency ward relieved me of my hearing loss.
    That being said, yes, sometimes I suffer hearing loss when God is speaking. And just like my temporary loss above, I don’t feel good about it at all.
    Thank God for the Holy Spirit!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, thank God for his Spirit! Even when we can’t hear—or can’t speak—we know we have an interpreter. My only experience with physical hearing loss is when I’ve had ear infections, and thankfully like yours, it was only temporary. I guess spiritual hearing losses can occur from infections, too….

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly, Jodie. It’s like with breathing; I take it for granted until my nose is stopped up or I’m under water. Yes, thankfully God always finds a way to break through our insufficiencies!

  8. BettieG

    These were such convicting thoughts, Lisa. So often recently, I have felt “cut off” because of my lack. But that isn’t how God has planned life for us! “Our time with them wasn’t lessened by their lack; it actually was enriched.” He has purpose and great blessing in those places of weakness and lack, when we let HIM move us forward on His path. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      But yes, ugh, it’s so uncomfortable to feel that we’re in a place of weakness. I’ve always been puzzled by how God’s strength shows through in our weaknesses, even though I can see it in the lives of other people. I’m thankful it’s true, though, even when I don’t understand!

  9. Debbie Putman

    We lived next door to a deaf woman for 27 years and never got to know her well, although our kids played together. Once in a while, she’d come to the door with a pad of paper, asking my husband to help her with a problem in her home. He always did. The lessons here, though, captured my heart with their wisdom.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your story reminded me of my visit with a Spanish-speaking friend last spring. We didn’t use a pad of paper, but we did use our iPhones to pull up Google-translate when we couldn’t understand what the other was saying. 🙂 It slowed down our communication, but it made it possible. I’m sure your family was quite a blessing to your neighbor and a good example for your kids to see how all things our possible even with disabilities. Thanks for sharing this, Debbie.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Deaf…and blind…and mute…on and on, yes? None of us run on all cylinders! But thank God that he does for us. Blessings to you on this anniversary day, Linda. 🙁 You were and are a wonderful daughter.

  10. Char

    Hi Lisa, I had a similar experience a couple years ago when I helped a friend that was blind. It made me realize how blind the rest of us are in so many ways. And I love that you made the point that having our senses doesn’t necessarily make us more aware. Although we think it does. Thanks for linking up today!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it odd that it takes experiences like these to sometimes wake us up to our own advantages and disadvantages? I’ve never been around anyone for very long that is blind, so I’m sure that was an insightful experience for you, Char. It’s too easy to take our gifts for granted!

  11. Cindy

    This is a great post as it allows us to evaluate what is important to us both in the natural and spiritual sense. I was born hard of hearing but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 6 years old. Then I had one hearing aid from ’65 to ’95 when another hearing assessment was done and I was told I should have had 2 hearing aids all my life. I have dead nerves in the cochlea where sound either goes correctly, incorrectly or not at all to my brain. This translates to a 50-70% hearing loss. Hearing loss is my ‘normal’ since it’s been with me all my life. I would love for God to heal my hearing and my sight, but in the meantime, I have aids and glasses so all is okay.
    But still….as for spiritual hearing. We all are on the same playing field there. Some of us are more in tune with the voice of God/Spirit while others have yet to fine tune what He sounds like to us. I’m still learning the different ways He speaks to me, some of which I recognize right away while others I wonder if that’s my thoughts, only to find out it was God speaking.
    Having two senses diminished means more senstivity in other senses, or so I’ve heard. My sense of smell is quite keen. Ah…I smell bacon through the open window!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The smell of bacon is something I wouldn’t want to lose. 🙂 I’m glad we do have better and better aids to help us with seeing and hearing. I can’t even imagine what all you’ve experienced in your life. Just in the past 10 years, I’ve complained too much about having to wear reading glasses. Wimpy. But I am very grateful for those glasses because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to read much anymore. I would love for you to be totally healed too, Cindy. One day! Sometimes I think those who have physical losses can be more insightful about spiritual matters. It sounds like you have honed your spiritual hearing! Thanks for sharing your story here!

  12. Michele Morin

    Your broad range of friends and acquaintances never ceases to amaze and inform! And just this morning I read a post over at SheLoves Magazine written by a woman with a hearing impairment in which she shares the challenges of hearing the Word and interacting in a group with her limited hearing. It was heartbreaking and challenging all at the same time.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ll have to see if I can find that article at SheLoves to read myself, Michele! Would love to hear that viewpoint. Well, I guess I do have quite a few interesting friends…and friends who have interesting friends. Perhaps it makes up for my own boring, ordinary self. ha.

    2. LisaNotes Post author

      I found it.

      You’re right, Michele, it is both beautiful and hard at the same time….

      “I am moving near to each one who has something to say,
      because of my impairment, I must move closer.
      Because of my loss, each woman must speak louder.

      What would happen if I moved to stand by each woman as she whispered her response, her story?

      What if I lived my impairment out in the open this way?”

  13. Theresa Boedeker

    This was interesting. I think all of us are deficient in some way, we just may not realize it. I have communicated with deaf people and it takes patience and a slowing down in communication. But so much can be said without words or few words. My daughter and I once went to a Broadway musical and had seats near the deaf section. It was almost as fun to watch the interpreter as the play. Especially as it was a musical.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “a slowing down in communication” – I’m wondering if we all would benefit by that, deaf or not! I appreciate you sharing this, Theresa. I know too often when I’m not really listening, it is because I’m wanting to move on to the next thing. But if I slow down, I can hear better. I love watching the interpreters also! It’s always so interesting to see how certain words are signed; it can make them even more meaningful.

  14. Laura Thomas

    What a fascinating encounter! Several months ago, I was intrigued when we had a sweet young lady at the front of the church using sign language for our hearing impaired folk at the Sunday services. What impacted me most was when she signed the worship songs— somehow it seemed so much more intentional using hand gestures and facial expressions rather than simply singing. It was beautiful. Made me consider how intentional I am when I praise God… Thanks for sharing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I’ve felt that intentionality also when watching interpreters as they sign worship songs! There’s something about their body movements and facial expressions that gives everything an extra layer of meaning. And yes, may we all be so aware of our own intentionality as we worship. I appreciate you bringing this up, Laura.

  15. floyd

    I love this story!!! I have the utmost respect for people that persevere. Those guys are examples for all of us.

    I get that relying solely on our senses does make us dead in our flesh. It’s what we can’t see or hear with our senses that matter most.

    Excellent post, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Great point, Floyd—the invisible things are the things that are the most real! It’s so easy to get more caught up in what we can see and touch that we think those are the lasting things, but they are not.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Silence is so subtle, yes? I’ve been trying to meditate for a few years now, and the silence just doesn’t seem to “do” anything, but hopefully God is doing more (or “being” more) underneath the surface than I realize. Yes, let’s keep relying on the unseen. Good to hear from you, Alene!

  16. Jean Wise

    great story. Reminds me to appreciate my senses.. I closed my eyes right now and just listened. Amazing what you can hear and honor with your eyes closed. What a neat experience it was to meet those movers.

    By the way your blog is mentioned on my blog today. Recommended you!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes when I’m meditating, I’m brought back to the “now” by just paying attention to the sounds around me. They mostly go unnoticed in regular moments. I want to appreciate all my senses too!

      Thanks for sharing my post on your blog. I love the serendipitous moments we often share between each other and our blogs. Just this morning I was reading the chapter in your new book on Celebration, a topic I had just been thinking about and posted about on Monday. 🙂 God is up to something with our friendship and I’m grateful for you!

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