Prison? Or A Garden Enclosed?

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“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  Proverbs 25:11

It’s been a difficult summer.  You’d think after thirty years of dealing with a progressive hearing loss I’d be use to making adjustments.  

But it seems while my hearing continues to steadily decline, the way I live is more like stair steps.  I make the needed adjustment to a new level of hearing and live that way for a while until a progressively greater loss makes living that way impossible and I usually end up crashing, struggling to deal with the loss of what I can no longer do as I adjust to a new “normal” which works well… until the next crash.  

Trust me, this is not a fun process for me, or anyone around me ~ especially as I “learn” my new normal mostly through failure.  

Up until this point the adjustments have not impacted my ability to interact one on one with people.  And in truth my ability to interact one on one hasn’t been directly impacted.  Even though I only retain 3% of my hearing, and that’s no longer normal, through lip reading and filling in the blanks I’m usually able to understand as long as someone is close enough.  

The problem is my brain is having to work a lot harder to do so.  (It really is a myth we only use a portion of our brain and there’s unlimited potential just waiting to be drawn on.  In fact, people with severe hearing loss have a much greater incident of dementia and researchers suspect it’s because the brain is having to work so much harder. Yikes!)

I’m fine when I’m with someone – or as is often the case a series of someones!  But it’s the next day when I really feel it!  When I wake up and my brain is mush and I feel like you can barely scrape me off the carpet.

After a week of crashing like this every other day:  I’d meet with people back to back for about 11 hours, then be dead the next day, unable to do much of anything all day long, then the next day I’d be with people for another 11 hours, and the following day my brain and body is mush and then two 8 hour days with people after that only to be half dead as we’re traveling to Austin to meet with our son and his new bride and I almost break my foot going through security because I’m so dead tired and distracted and then end up eating something I’m allergic to and sick all night because I’m not really able to think clearly to ask about ingredients in advance.  

My husband states, “This isn’t working Deb.  You can’t keep doing this.  You’ve simply got to start setting some limits. Like only meeting with two people a day…”  And I feel my world start to cave in.  You see, I love what I do meeting one on one with people. I’ve seen the Lord use this over and over again to make a difference in people’s lives, and to help advance His Kingdom.  And now I have to give a large portion of that up?!

I was so not liking the story He’s writing in my life.

Recently I was sharing with a friend that it feels like I’m in a prison as my boundaries constrict, like I’m trapped inside this jail of my limited brain and all I can see are the good things I use to be able to do on the outside.

The words were barely out of my mouth when she began to type “SS: A garden enclosed.” 

When I asked if she was referring to Song of Solomon, she nodded yes.  And as she did, a little bit of hope began to ignite in my heart.  What a different perspective!

After our time together I went home and looked up the verse. It’s found in Song of Solomon 4:12

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”

The next three verses go on to describe how fruitful and wonderful this garden is!  And in verse 16 it says, “Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad.  May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!”

Now originally when I first realized I was going to have to cut down on the time I spend one on one with people, I thought the Lord wanted me to devote the time I was no longer spending meeting with people to writing.  Like having a literary one on one with whoever would be reading what I wrote.  And I was excited!  

But after two weeks of trying and my writing feeling so dry, I had to conclude that simply wasn’t God’s plan for this season.  So that left me even more discouraged than before.

Then the Lord reminded me of a comment Carole Mayhall shared with me, “Some people are writers, others are communicators.  Writers can put ink to paper on any given topic, but I’m a communicator – I can only write when the Lord gives me something to communicate.”  That is so true for me, too!

And I began to wonder, perhaps I need to be spending that “extra” time with the Lord?  So I can listen to hear when He has something He wants me to communicate.

But when I read verse 16 a few days later, it hit me – while a wind may come and blow the fragrance and spices from my garden so it can be a blessing to others, the primary purpose of my garden, and specifically it being enclosed, is to be set apart for the beloved’s delight!

And I sensed the Lord saying, “That “extra” time when you can no longer meet with people, I want you to invest in going deeper with me, listening to me, responding to me.  Remember the joy you felt as you watched your son grow?  Does it ever bring me joy to watch you grow!  There may be times when I want you communicating something and then you can focus on writing, but never forget the main purpose of the garden being enclosed is for it to be set apart so you can go deeper with me and bring me joy!”

Considering I receive the most joy in my life when I spend time with the Lord, well, my perspective shifted from feeling deprived to realizing how truly blessed I am!  He wants more time with me!  And He’s orchestrating circumstances so I won’t be tempted beyond what I can bear and miss out!

What a difference a word aptly spoken can make!