[First written 27 January 2009]
Why do I feel the need to re-edit and post something I wrote over 3 years ago? Because, I still strongly believe that, second only to “love,” “friend” is the most misused word in the English language.
If I had a pound/dollar for every time people I hardly know have referred to me as a “friend”, I would be rich. I do not wish to offend or hurt the person who has, in the past, called themselves “friends”, but simply to set them straight.
Whenever I tell someone that I have only a handful of friends, they are not entirely sure how to respond. Some may look at it as being that I am simply less sociable, an introvert, a recluse, etc, whatever you wish to call it. But I simply see it as taking the advice of George Washington, who said, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well-tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”
The word “friend” is one thing that is slung around often in the virtual world of Facebook/Hi5/Bebo/etc, but very few people seem to know what it actually means. “Friend” is not a word to play fast and loose with, nor is it a term to be hastily applied to a person you happen to be acquainted with. “Friend” is a word to be used carefully, because “friends” are to be chosen very carefully.
Friends are rare, and you may live many years without finding even one true friend. “The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for.” Count yourself rich if you have found even one friend worth dying for.
A true friend is more than just an interesting person to speak with for an hour or two so as to pass the time. Rather, a friend is someone to depend on, someone to lean on, someone who is (almost) necessary for life. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, we are told, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Real friendship is lasting. It survives the changes, the storms, the crashes and the pitfalls. We always talk about our “school friends” who we forgot about when we graduated and began a career. Then we are not real friends ourselves. “The friendship that can cease has never been real.”
Friends argue, friends offer correction, friends are even sometimes (wrongly) angry at each other…and these things are all natural and to be expected in a real friendship. “Truth springs from argument amongst friends.”
Indeed, I understand that argument is a positive facet of true friendship (Pro. 27:17) and correction from a friend is something to thank God for (Pro. 27:6a). And as Christians, friends can and must always forgive one another. C.S. Lewis writes, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
I wonder, what exactly is friendship that I seem to lose one “friend” every year? Of course, some people are only meant to stay in your life for a time and a season. But I still wonder about the friendships that ceased for no apparent reason. Were we simply not bothered about keeping it going? Who knows…
True friends are open with each other, and overlook one another’s faults. Everyday, when I talk to God about my problems, one of the things I always thank Him for is friends who have seen me at my worst and still like me and for those who have forgiven me when I had no right to expect to be forgiven.
It has been over 3-years since I made a real friend, and I am not only content with that, but also happy for it. Old friends are the best. I read somewhere that Thomas Jefferson said; “I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.” I agree.
So, to everyone who reads this, I would strongly recommend, re-examine the people you trust and call “friends” and distinguish “friendliness” from “friendship”. To love is to move towards others without self-protection, but the Bible also says, “Be shrewd as a serpent but innocent as a dove” (paraphrase).
It feels like its been a sweet while since I last went to see my Audiologist for a series of tests, tweaks and pricks (not really, but you get the gist lol). I didn’t think it was possible to miss your Audiologist (not the person per se, but what usually happens when you see them). But yes, here I am feeling slightly abandoned by the CI team at my Hospital!
I remember when I was implanted for the first time; I saw the Audiologists and Speech Therapists every blessed week after the ‘switch on’. Every. Blessed. Week. No joke. I missed a lot of classes because of that. And looking back now, I wonder how I had the patience to go through it all. Tenacity. How many of us are actually aware of our tenacious nature? I think, as God’s creations, we are all tenacious by nature. The difference between those who make it and does who don’t isn’t whether one is more tenacious than the other but quite simply who/what their source of strength is. And even for those who do not yet know their Creator, it depends on how you choose to look at it.
I don’t remember complaining about the frequent visits to the Hospital. Sure, I got tired and felt deeply inconvenienced. But did I complain? Not at all! (I hope!). When you know what the final outcome will be, or rather what you hope it will be, the process is worth it no matter how uncomfortable or difficult. I had to endure all those visits to the Hospital time and time again so that I could make the implant work for me and not the other way round (is that even possible??).
As the years passed, the visits became less and less frequent until finally, I turned 18 and I was officially taken off the Children’s CI department and placed in the Adult unit. By this stage, they expect that they have tweaked your CI as far as it can go and you are finally on a programme that you can live happily with for a good few years…or until your next review. Thinking about this now, I wonder isn’t this somehow similar to how God works when developing us? I’m sure there is a blog post in there somewhere!
Nowadays, the only reason I may find myself in the Audiologist’s office is when I have a particular need or my not-so-little miracle is misbehaving. Or when I drop in to pick up spare batteries. Those babies only last a year in full strength before they begin to depreciate in terms of longevity, so you can imagine I have had A LOT of batteries over the past years as a CI Angel!
Now though, I miss the Audiologist. I miss these visits because it kept me on my toes in terms of my hearing progress and gave me hope that I still had more room to develop as far as the CI was concerned. Without these visits, I become complacent and I settle – or rather, get too comfortable to the point that even when I am no longer getting the maximum from the current programme, I don’t even notice it because I have settled into a comfort zone. Life is not much different, is it?
And as I ponder this, I come to the realisation that we need to keep ourselves from getting comfortable, from settling. This is something I hope we all know. Even the brain needs exercise (when was the last time anyone played Sudoku?? I should get back into that!). It is a big world we live in. There is so much to be enjoyed and experienced, so much to enrich our lives with – and most of it is free!
I sincerely hope that many of you reading this are living life beyond the mundane, daily routine that is so easy to get caught in. I know; I am guilty of this. And as I am facing the beginning of a new story in my life, a brand new chapter filled with hopes and so many possibilities, I ask myself what kind of story do I want? Do I want something that is the same script as now, but a different cast? Absolutely not. I want the best story anyone will ever read. And as I realise this, I finally come to accept that I want nothing short of what God has in mind for me. It is only in His hands that the pen will etch out a story which will reverberate for generations to come. So, Lord, I don’t know what lies ahead, but I do know that YOU have brought me this far and there is SO MUCH more You have in store. I want to experience it all. All that You desire for me. However, whenever, wherever, I am saying ‘Yes’ in advance!
And do you know what? I am excited! I am so friggin’ excited because, guys, this new chapter of my life is going to bring with it a fresh set of challenges along my hearing journey! And I look forward to sharing it with you.
Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
~CI Angel – living life, victoriously~
[Image courtesy of Google Images]
Just 5-years of using hearing aids, it was immediately obvious (mostly to me, not so much to my parents) that these aids were pretty much useless to me. The only purpose they appeared to serve was to feed a cacophony of sounds into my poor ears as my brain scrabbled to make sense of it. I could imagine an army of tiny neurons running around like headless chickens trying so hard to filter the sounds! Poor things…they tried though…except when the fire alarm went off – that literally stunned them! No sound could travel into my brain at all! Well, anyway, after a while and coupled with other reasons (namely self-consciousness), I stopped wearing the aids unless I was forced to in school or at home. Age 15, I was offered a Cochlear Implant, my not-so-little miracle. It finally felt like me and sounds could get along again! However the CI didn’t restore my hearing per se but it gave me a massive advantage in hearing and distinguishing sounds. So, in my opinion, I am not deaf, but I am not hearing either…hence I am stuck between two worlds.
I tried for a while to integrate myself into the deaf community but it didn’t work out. Sometimes I felt like a fraud and I started to feel like I was losing my hearing identity and being unwittingly forced to be ‘Deaf’ and not ‘hard-of-hearing’ as I like to describe my weaker sense. I don’t fully belong in the hearing world either and re-integrating me in that didn’t work!
I will never fit into the deaf community and I will never fully be in the hearing community either but that’s okay with me. I have just come to accept that I have my own little niche, my own little island somewhere between the two worlds, and I am quite happy there. Its peaceful, it’s different and I get to make my own rules (I try anyway)! I don’t need to fit into any community to establish an identity because I already know whose I am (even though I forget sometimes) and where my identity lies – with God. And that’s all I need.
So don’t try to fit into society’s mould, people. It will give you ulcers! Man did not create you; God did. He’s your Manufacturer and I can’t imagine anyone knowing you better than the very One who made you. If you feel lost, just ask the Manufacturer who will tell you who you are and what on earth you are here for.
Don’t try to hide your flaws either – they are part of you and make you unique. If you were perfect, you wouldn’t need anyone, would you?
Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
~Engineered to be DIFFERENT~
[Image courtesy of Google Images]
Exciting times ahead! Life has been extremely busy for me and I have not been able to blog as much as I would like to. However this doesn’t mean I am neglecting my blog or forgetting my readers! It’s just more of a challenge these days to find time to sit down and write a post! (Donations for an iPad most welcome!)
In the meantime, it gives me great pleasure to introduce CoBW’s first guest blogger – John O’Connor from Blogging with John O!
John is passionate about raising awareness of hearing loss, the causes and ways to preserve your hearing whilst you still have it. He is new to the blogging scene but has dedicated his blog to hearing loss awareness, regularly posting informative articles relating to hearing loss. I find this passion and dedication truly inspiring and it is a pleasure to welcome him to this blog.
John is here to tell us a bit about himself and why hearing loss is such an important subject to him.
CoBW: Hi John! Firstly, thank you for expressing an interest in Chronicles of a Bionic Woman. Raising the profile of hearing loss, its causes and prevention appears to be very important to you. Why is this?
John: Hi all, My father and grandfathers along with many other family members and friends suffer from hearing loss. I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue of hearing loss and it is our job to spread awareness on hearing loss, the causes and ways to prevent or further protect yourself from hearing loss.
Below is a word of advice from John. Take heed!
Hearing Loss: Detection and Prevention
Hearing loss can strike at any particular age, meaning that both young and old are susceptible to a loss of hearing. However, hearing loss can be prevented. By taking helpful steps, certain causes of a loss of hearing can be inhibited, and almost all types of hearing loss can be prevented. With a few lifestyle changes and smart choices, people can live with the ability to hear for their entire lives. To have a healthy hearing ability, individuals need to avoid the major causes of hearing loss. To be able to recognize the causes behind hearing loss, one must first have a better understanding of the types of hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Loss
The types of hearing loss are conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. In conductive hearing loss, a force does not allow sound waves to travel to the nerves, keeping sound from being recognized by the brain. This may affect only one ear and can be caused by ear wax, ear infections, or ear trauma. Any disease that involves the ear drum, ear canal, or bones in the middle ear can also cause conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss often can be cured.
Sensorineural hearing loss, however, is much harder to correct. This type of hearing loss is caused by damage in the inner ear nerves or in any of the nerves that allow sound to pass to the brain. The nerve damage can only be helped by a hearing aid. This type of damage can come from injury, infection, overexposure to noise, or harmful medication.
These two types of hearing loss can mix together when a person who has nerve damage also develops an ear infection. With this combination, hearing suddenly worsens.
How To Prevent Hearing Loss
The number one way to avoid hearing loss is to cut down on noise exposure. Sound is measured in decibels, with the normal speaking voice being around 45 decibels and fireworks being around 115 decibels. Noise above 85 decibels, close to that of traffic, can cause damage to ears. This insinuates hearing loss and should be avoided. Simple ways to reduce the chance of hearing loss include:
- Reduced exposure to loud noise
- Low volume on music players
- Application of ear plugs at events such as firework shows
- Protection of ears during physical activity (such as a helmet during a baseball game)
- Avoidance of ear infections
- An audio-gram to ensure knowledge of current hearing
Individuals who experience pain in the ear, pressure in the ear canal, or ringing or other sounds in the ear should see a doctor and ask about hearing problems they may possibly have. Individuals who also notice a sudden change in hearing should report to a doctor. These signs could point to a type of hearing loss that can be prevented.
By seeing a doctor regularly and protecting the ears, an individual can experience a life with a healthy hearing ability. Making certain lifestyle changes and smarter choices can help you protect your hearing in the long run.
There you have it, folks! Some sound advice from John and believe me, as much as I no longer despise my hearing loss, it is not something I would wish on anyone! So please, take heed and protect your hearing today. Don’t take it for grant because when you lose it, you will truly miss it but by then it may be too late!
Thank you once again, John.
You can read more articles from John at his blog Blogging With John O
Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
~Prevention is better than cure~
As I am crying out to Him for healing and restoration, I cannot allow myself to focus solely on the situation. My eyes and mind must look to and meditate on His promises all night and all day long. As I do, the very thing that I meditate on and believe will come to pass. I can do this with peace of mind because I know that He cares for me and does not want me to feel pain or loss.
He hears my prayers and has begun processing me long before I was aware I needed to be! So knowing this, I should rest confidently and peacefully in His arms and allow Him to process me, whilst communicating with Him at all times, never pretending to be anything other than what He has created me to be and being honest about how I am feeling, no matter how negative. Like David, acknowledge my failures and the battles within my mind and spirit, but always remembering God’s promise to deliver me.
What are the promises of God that I can claim and meditate on daily? I must rest on His promises!!
Dear God, I am feeling overwhelmed BUT You have said in Your word that You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. If and only if my mind is stayed on You (Your promises, Your word), will I experience peace through this process that You are taking me through. Only when my mind is stayed on You will I have the grace and the patience to see this through and allow You to do what You need to do in me to make me strong and whole again. Praise the name of the Lord!
Left to ourselves, no way! But with the promise that God will replace the pain with Himself – His presence, His power, His very life – we can “forget what lies behind.”
Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
~ Pressing forward…relentlessly ~
It’s been a while since I ventured into this blog…not for lack of something to say but simply having so much happening presently in my personal life that I don’t quite know how to share it with you.
It’s not all good and it’s not all bad but I thank God, I am still here. Life has changed…where I was the last time I put a post up here is not the same place I am today.
It’d have been easy to have stayed steeped in the quicksand of spiritual and emotional battles/challenges but there is one thing I have taken away with me so far…we are responsible for everything we CHOOSE to do.
You can never ever blame God for where you find yourself in life because God is quite simply GOOD. That is all. Nothing bad comes from Him. Anything contrary to the goodness of God is not from God.
But you know what the incredible thing is that I still find hard to wrap my head around? Whatever bad you are going through in your life, He will take it and turn it into something that benefits you in the long run and ultimately glorifies Him.
So I have simply learnt not to “wallow” in my failures and brought down that bar I (yes, I, not God) set so high that I realistically could not achieve it and would as a result constantly beat myself up for falling short and wonder what is wrong with me!
Well, I’ve had enough and expelled myself from that school of thought! I am human. I will make mistakes. I will fall many times. But you know what? Because of Him and through Him, I will get up many times, dust myself off and keep on keeping on!
I may not get things done the way I (unrealistically) think they should be done but as long as I am doing just a little bit a day of what He has asked me to do (which by the way isn’t easy either!), then I’m okay and I am on my way. So help me God…
Life…it doesn’t always go the way we hope for…but through God’s grace and mercy alone, we come out on top.
Take it easy on yourself. Even God knows you are going to make mistakes and you are going to fall. But He has said “My grace is sufficient for you and My power is made perfect (in you) in your weakness” [The Bible, italics mine]
Live well, laugh often, love much!
Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
~ I am stronger today than I was yesterday INSPITE of my weakness. ~
I was truly honored when the fabulously talented and inspiring writer Waiki Harnais approached me to take part in one of her projects. She’s done a fantastic job and I do hope you find this video inspiring and motivating!
Follow her on Twitter:
Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
I am deaf and I have been able to create the music inside me…
Have you ever had that moment when you felt like giving up as you struggled with something – be it financial, emotional, old wounds, health, broken relationships, depression or all of the above – and you begin to wonder if you have the strength to keep going because the light at the end of the tunnel seems elusive? Well I have. In that period of time, I just couldn’t see a way out; all around me, all I could see was heaviness, sadness, loneliness – just one thick blackness, with constant wall of tears in my eyes threatening to gush out whenever someone asked me if I was okay.
Oh my days…that period was hard…I couldn’t talk to anyone as much as I wanted to…Every instinct in my body was screaming to get away from everyone…I couldn’t open my mouth and voice what was going on inside me because I didn’t know how or where to start and I was scared I would start crying so much the other person would be genuinely afraid and worried about me!
Then I was reminded of an age-old truth (if that applies) of God – there is power inside of me! And that power is appropriated by my faith in Jehovah Nissi. If you find yourself at that point today, please allow me to encourage you with Hebrews 12 and give you a powerful reason to keep on keeping on.
Hebrews 11 is the faith equivalent “Hall of Fame”. It lists great people of faith from Abraham, Moses, David and many others. Their stories are sources of encouragement in and of themselves (for me, it was David’s story – from the time he was anointed by Samuel and grew up to become Israel’s King and beyond). But I want to focus your attention on the first phrase of the first verse of the next chapter of Hebrews, chapter 12.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1)
Why do you want to give up when heaven and all its angelic hosts are watching and cheering you on? Imagine yourself an athlete in the Olympic stadium running the endurance race. So far you have done 6 laps but it feels like 60! All you want to do is just stop where you are and curl up and just forget everything else. Now imagine the stands of that stadium filled to overflowing with crowds upon crowds upon crowds of people cheering for YOU – yes YOU – and no one else and encouraging you to keep going. What a feeling, huh? Again, why would you want to give up when heaven and all its angelic hosts are watching and rooting for you??
We have an audience. Nothing we do is ever private. Nothing we have ever done is private or hidden from heaven. All the angels have seen every moment of our lives as they unfolded and every action that followed. As Job says, “Isn’t God looking, observing how I live? Doesn’t He mark every step I take?” (Job 31:4 TM) And Jesus tells us, “Every hair on your head has been counted” (Luke 12:7 GW). God sees it all that is why He is the Omnipresent God. Not a single moment of a single life on this earth is hidden from Him! Hard for our limited human minds to even begin to imagine that, but God is bigger than us, than anything in this world, than even this very universe itself! He’s the Creator!
And by the way, it’s not just God who is watching – Abraham, Jacob, Moses and all the other saints are there too!
Does this encourage you? The next time you are feeling discouraged, remember that people who have gone through a lot worse than you are watching to see how well you are enduring.
When you feel like giving up, remember that people are watching you and rooting for you through their life stories of faith.
Lastly, do not underestimate the power that you have in you as a child of the Most High. Speak your desire to that mountain and tell it to get the heck out of your way! Don’t engage into conversation with it – tell it to MOVE! That same power that raised the dead, healed the sick and cast out demons, that same power that raised Jesus from the dead is very much alive in you today. Use it! Speak life into the darkness and rejoice in the Lord for the victory you already have.
I will close this by reminding you that God has not left you and He NEVER will.
Chronicles of Bionic Woman
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut 31:8)
(Image courtesy of Google Images)