I was explaining a few days ago to a group of young people why I don't go to music festivals. I would like to add the phrase "any more" but let's be real here - I am a stranger to music festivals. Anything that has the potential to be loud is strictly off the menu!
It's not so much the event itself but what happens later.
I suffer from tinnitus. It's perhaps a bit misleading to say I suffer from it as most times it is just a noise in the background that has been around since I can remember. There are times when the noise stops being a background noise and promotes itself to the front-line. After any really loud environment my ears just buzz and whistle at a ramped up volume. After a while, a day or two, the volume gradually turns itself down but it never switches itself off.
Silence isn't something I know anything about.
Last night I broke my rule about not going to somewhere noisy. It didn't occur to me that it would be noisy but when you are a part of a group of two dozen or more people letting off steam and saying goodbye to a work colleague - it was always going to get noisy.
Most people in that kind of environment just have the noise to deal with. I have the noise in the room added to my own personal noise in my ear. Anyone speaking to me has to speak, not just above the noise in the room, but above my personal ear noise too. Listening to conversation is a challenge. I try so hard to hear what people are saying and I focus on their faces almost trying to lip read. On a Friday night it is all a bit to much for me - so I stopped listening and joining in the conversation. I just simply stopped trying.
I daresay that some people reached the conclusion that I am not very sociable, or I am just really shy - and they wouldn't be entirely off the mark. I am not the greatest conversationalist. The real saboteur of my social life is the tinnitus.
Malachi 3:16 says "Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard." On Sunday we had an special opportunity to talk with each other and I shared my inner ear woes with a friend. My asking people in church to speak up was not uncommon and now she knew why. I told her that I have a hearing test coming up soon and ended with saying there was no cure for tinnitus.
"Yes, there is a cure!" She didn't wait a moment, "Jesus can heal you!"
Would it not be wonderful to end this narrative by saying we prayed together and the tinnitus went? It really would be wonderful - but that didn't happen. My friend made the suggestion but she didn't drag me to Jesus to demand a healing touch. She just showed me another way leaving me with the choice to take that path.
I haven't taken it yet. A large part of me struggles with the thought that tinnitus is not life threatening. It's not something you die from. It's inconvenient and annoying at times, but not fatal. Many of the healing miracles in the gospels did not feature life threatening diseases. A man might have been blind or deaf but he was still functioning. God want us to do more than just function. The "life to the full" that Jesus spoke about in John 10 isn't about merely functioning.
Going back to that opening conversation with the young people, they were fascinated by the whole inner ear issue. Having told them about the sounds I hear in an empty room, someone asked me if I heard voices. I told them I didn't.
It would appear that I do hear voices - not inner ear voices, but inner man voices. It is time to start listening and acting on the right voice.