“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19
For the past 2 1/2 weeks, I have been speech impaired as a result of muscle weakness. This happens intermittently as muscle weakness is part of a progressive neuro-muscular condition I have lived with for 32+ years. This condition causes me to be on a bipap respirator about 14 hours per day and includes challenges in swallowing, talking, and walking during exacerbations, as is the case right now. Clearly a significant setback, one that must be dealt with head on.
Though this condition presents many unwelcome difficulties, there is a silver lining. It has taught me the value of humility, patience, and helped me find strength in adversity, and courage I did not know I had. Above all, it has taught me the value of active listening.
When my speech is impaired, I am most careful not to waste precious air on anger or speaking ill of anyone, as I chose my words wisely. Unable to clearly express myself with garbled, slurred speech, I am humbled, and even more aware of the need we all have to be heard. Frankly, I pray more when my speech is “out,” and seem to be able to listen better to those in need as I choose my words wisely.
This past week, while speech impaired, I went to the local Soup Kitchen where I am Chaplain on the chance that someone needed to talk and be heard. For some reason, I just had the feeling I should be there that day. With broken speech, yet fully able and ready to listen, I was approached by a man who lives with bipolar disorder in dire need of counseling. Able to listen intently to him talk about his issues, I watched as he soon calmed down, and then we were able to pray together one-on-one for his needs. In actuality, though I was self-conscious about my speech, he was in such need of counseling, that I doubt he even noticed my broken speech! He simply needed someone to listen to him be heard, and pray together with someone!
For me, this shows just how important it really is for all of us to put ones self aside, regardless of circumstances, and to reach out to others. Truth is, it would have been much easier to stay home that day, but I yielded to the spiritual nudge I received to grow in humility and go to the soup kitchen as I do every Wednesday. For when we are able to ‘get over ourselves,’ and reach out to another hurting soul despite our own challenges or adversity, it is then that God can best use us for good.
The point is that every life has purpose; and whenever we step out in faith, the results are a mutual blessing to all involved. I have had to make a difficult decision, particularly where my speech and mobility issues are concerned: Stay in the comfort of my home or continue to go out into the community to reach out to others. Humbled by it all, I have chosen the latter, with no regrets. For to be quick to listen, slow to speak is what today’s holy Scripture is all about!
Adele M. Gill | 2015 Copyright | www.theinspirationcafeblog.net