Voiceless (Natalie Thompson)
I went to an Ear Nose and Throat Clinic on May 2nd to address a constant looming fear in the back of my mind and bottom of my heart; I’d been experiencing, at different levels of severity, a lot of hoarseness… my voice would just give out while mid-sentence, and singing was becoming a struggle at times. As a singer, song writer, musician, teacher, and worship leader, this impairment was disconcerting at best; but as an aspiring young adult with hopes, dreams, and a notebook of God-inspired musical ideas… well, it really made me sick to think I might never sing like I used to. So I thought, since these symptoms began almost a year ago, that it was time to put the wild imagination away and go see the doctor to get a firm diagnosis.
After talking with her for awhile and going thru the discomfort of having a scope forced down my throat, she confirmed that I had nodules on my vocal cords—basically I had developed calluses on my vocal cords from overuse/ abuse (I am constantly using high volumes at work to ensure I’m heard above the noise, and, as some of you well know, my singing voice is rather… well, loud). She prescribed, among other things, six weeks of vocal rest… as little speaking as possible, no speech preferable. “But what about prayer?” I thought, anxiously. I know that whispering is the worst thing for your voice, so I knew my quiet whispered prayers to my Savior, weren’t going to be conducive to resting my voice. My doctor concluded that speaking my prayers (at normal speech volumes) would be a good alternative, but since I was on vocal rest this was out of the question and the alternative she offered was to think my prayers to God. “If God can hear your whispers, He can hear your thoughts as well,” she declared.
So there I was… facing six weeks of silence—or the closest thing to it that I could manage. And I was worried, worried about how my relationship with God would fair in the face of this speech obstacle. I knew He could read my every thought, for the scriptures tell us He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts, but somehow it didn’t seem possible to truly pray while not vocalizing my thoughts to Him.
I was uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to speak to my Best Friend, not being able to nurture our relationship in the manner I was used to. So, at first, I tried avoiding prayer time—made up some great excuses, filled up my schedule for a day and a half. But I knew the time would come. I would have to do it. And here’s an account of what happened (only mildly edited):
It’s me again. The little voiceless girl. I’m kind of stuck in my head these days—which (as You know) can be frightening, for a variety of reasons, but has also been a good thing, I think. I’ve had to think, a lot, before I do speak, and I also get to listen more—to You and to others. Each word carries more meaning as it passes through my mouth and out my lips to journey into the lives of other people.
I wondered how it would work—what it would feel like to pray without words, my heart and mind putting voice to that which I am forbidden to speak. I worried and fretted: Do our thoughts and heartbeats come through as clearly as our voices do in Heaven? Can Your ear discern the trembling and throbbing in my soul amongst all the vocalized cries of anguish, shouts of victory, weeping of sorrow, and singing of adoration that is streaming and screaming from the rest of the world? Do my fleeting thought balloons get crowded out by the collective whispers of the saints?
And then You did it…
And here I am… tears leaking onto my face as You yet again prove to me that You are all I need—whatever I need, in whatever circumstance by whatever means… unlimited and uninhibited by my limitations.
Tonight, as my eye drags down the prayer guide, looking over Your many Names and attributes listed there, all I see is “Jehovah-Shammah The Lord Is There!” And You are. You truly are present in this room, in my heart, in my circumstance, giving voice to and interpreting the unspoken cries of my crumpled little heart.
And I can’t thank You enough for bending an ear to listen to the unspoken prayers of a small voiceless girl, alone in her room under the eaves, learning all over again what it means, and how it works, to pray.