Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What a deaf boy taught me

Have you ever experienced being around a deaf person? Specifically, a deaf child? One who is not partially deaf, but cannot hear a single thing?
 In some ways it is absolutely heartbreaking, if you stop and think about it. But this weekend was my first true experience being around a deaf child, and rather than being heartbreaking, the experience was beautiful. The 2 year old deaf little boy stirred my spirit in refreshing ways.
 My sister and her husband are certified to be foster parents for the state. This weekend, they were a "substitute" foster family while the host family went away for a time of their own . They had 2 beautiful children, and I got to experience them.  The little girl was only 8 months old, and how precious it was to hold a baby again. The little boy was 2, and completely deaf.
 I am not one bothered by "special needs" but this little boy caught my heart off guard.
  He comes from a sad story. His foster family is who he likely knows to be his mom and dad. He is deaf. He would have every reason to be a child who acts out or is grumpy or throws fits, as a normal 2 year old might, let alone a 2 year old who has not had a typical life experience.
  But this little boy taught me more in the few hours I got to spend with him than reading any book or trying to live out life ever could. He reminded me what life is about.
  He'd never met me, never seen me, but from the first moment I met him, he was smiling. He walked right up to me and put his arms out. He made a sign for "up" to be hugged (or picked up, he kind of did the same sign for both). What was even more special was in a room full of 11 strangers, he walked around to every one of us, grinned ear to ear and high fived all of us.  He doesn't talk. He has never heard a sound. But that boy spoke volumes to my soul.
   Because he can't hear, he is untainted by angry words. He hasn't experienced arguing or hearing hurtful moments spoken between people that cannot be forgotten. He hasn't been made fun of by others. He lives joy. He is what we all should be- full of joy, laughter, zest, love, and the desire to be with and around people in loving ways.
  Somewhere along the lines, we lose that zest. We become hurt by words and therefore our actions or our words become hurtful in return, or we choose to crawl into ourselves to avoid being hurt. In some ways, that is part of growing up and experiencing life. But even when we have those experiences, we are still called to love. To love God and to love others. To be a smile to the hurting. To care for the sick. To minister to the sad. As we grow, some days that is tough to do because we become the one who is hurt or sick or sad or in a despairing situation. And it becomes easy to forget what life is about, and what God is about.
 But although this little boy is only 2, he brought a refreshing view back to life.
  What if I walked into a room full of stranger and high fives all of them?? They might look at me like I'm crazy, but they might also wonder why I'm different.
   What if I smiled at every person I met?
        What if I laughed so much it became contagious?  
             What if I, instead of retaliating within myself or with hurtful words or actions, simply loved?
 I realize as an adult, this is much easier to say than to do. But my little deaf friend reminded me maybe it's not so hard after all. Maybe I can return to those moments and be the one to refresh others' spirits. Maybe I can make a difference that will in turn leave another with refreshed spirits.
  Maybe I can be Jesus,  can be a smile, can be love to those around me?
Easier said than done some days....but if a deaf boy who has every reason at even such a young age to be sad and upset can do it, why can't I??

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