Waiting and Listening

Dec 11, 2010

Waiting and listening sound like noble and holy practices for Advent. But I’ve done more waiting and listening this Advent than I care to.

Our first Sunday in Michigan, I went to our new church and sang with gusto. Two days later, I went to an evening worship service, opened my mouth to sing, and only croaks came out. It was strange. My speaking voice seemed fine. I’ve tried to sing again and still very little voice comes out after two weeks. This has never happened before. I admit to a little worry. Scary and outlandish diagnoses flit through my mind. “Maybe an odd insect from Israel burrowed into my vocal chords.” But worry, I remind myself, is not a substitute for prayer.

On Wednesday I’m going to see a doctor who specializes in vocal chords. I’m waiting to see if my voice will come back. I’m listening instead of singing. These supposedly lofty Advent goals of waiting and listening are no fun at all. Whenever I hear Christmas music, I want to join in. Instead I cry. Even my crying sounds pathetic.

If there is an upside to this time, it is this. When I’m tempted to raise my voice, I can’t. I’ve kept my mouth shut on more occasions than usual, not out of righteousness but out of necessity. It feels good to withhold unnecessary comments and spontaneous outbursts.¬†This is a practice I might want to continue—voice or no voice.

I have no choice but to wait. In the waiting I hear Psalms 27:14 over and over again: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (NIV) I listen to the Taize musical version of this Psalm and sing along in my head.

P.S. Prayers welcome. Withhold worry.


  1. Hi Sybil. Sorry to hear about your voice and all. Something similar happened to me a couple of time early this year. And it was because I was so fatigued. It also happens when you’re doing less on much-needed sleep.

    I agree though that there’s a lot of lessons to learn when you can’t speak. One is we become good at listening to others instead of interrupting with our 2-cents’ worth. And with me personally, I learned to lay back on mouthing at my kids for some minor misconduct. Plus the fact that I got to listen to them more. Most important, I found myself listening to God more in prayer.

    So, I do pray that God heals you in Jesus’ mighty name! And that your voice comes back in His perfect time.

    By the way, I love your blog and your concept of praying in color. Trying that out myself. Not very good with words or concentrating while praying for long periods.

    God bless you more!

  2. I have been trying to keep my mouth shut every once in awhile and I’m failing! I need to pray about it and try harder. We don’t always need to fill the silence.


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