All posts by Grace

Doing the Impossible

Have you ever feel like every day, you are burdened with trying to do what you know is impossible? It could be finding a job that you actually enjoy while it doesn’t leave you financially in need, forgiving a person for a physical/spiritual/mental/emotional wound that had gone too deep, or learning a new language to better your career prospects.

For me, it’s just something that I’m required to do daily: to lip-read and pass off as a hearing person, even while full knowing well I just can’t. Based on my personal experiences (and experiences of others who are in the same situation), it’s never a good idea to disclose one’s disability to people you just met. At best, people can be annoying and simply mouth all sorts of words to test your ability to lip-read, or yell loudly to see if you can hear them “better.” At worst, they’re cruel to you.

When thinking about accomplishing the impossible task of lip-reading every day – no matter how hard I try – I know that none of my efforts will really matter.

Logically, I know it’s impossible to depend on lip-reading. It’s mostly guesswork. Daily I ask God for the impossible, to be able to lip-read. Yet even on my best days, I would have to ask the person to repeat themselves several times or, if they are willing, to type it out on their phones for me.

But what’s good is that in spite of all our hardships, one thing doesn’t depend on our efforts.

Our own salvation.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” -Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

This verse gives me the hope I need to simply just get up each morning and give thanks every day.

If our salvation were up to us, and us alone, none of us ever will have the capacity to stand before God. Nothing we did, nothing we haven’t done, nothing we say will ever be justified.

Instead of being judged in comparison to others, we are judged by the standards of God’s glory – which was revealed to us through Christ, who exemplified who we should have been like from the very beginning (Matthew 6:27; Matthew 25:31; Luke 2:14, 34; Luke 9:26; Luke 21:27; Luke 24:26; John 1:14; John 2:11; John 5:44; John 8:54; John 11:40; John 12:41; John 15:8; John 17:4-5, 10, 22, 24).

How the impossibility of our personal salvation has been made possible by God through Jesus (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27; Acts 2:24; Hebrews 6)!

Glory to God in the highest.

Ability to Produce Wealth

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” – Deuteronomy 8:17-18 New International Version (NIV)

 

Despite the title, this is not a tutorial on how to make money. It’s more of a personal perspective on the hardships of life, particularly related to living – even just survival.

 

When I read Deuteronomy 8:17-18, I think back to my own work history. Truth to be told, I don’t think it’s that great. Partially because my salary has always been very low – and partially because given my credentials, experience, and capacity, I know I could make better. I should.

 

This is the reality that we D/deaf population face. Life sucks, and when it comes to finding work, it’s worse. Life in general is miserable, because the world doesn’t know and rejects the love of Christ, which leads to apathy, discrimination, and downright cruelty towards others. If more people truly had the love of God in their hearts, I believe that the D/deaf population and those with disability(ies) would not face so much barriers and challenges.

 

I took on every work where I could, even though by law I should be getting sign language interpreters and I was barely getting by on lip-reading. From working with foster children, to energetic high school students, day care, and more recently, a law office, anything I had to do, I did it.

 

And God helped me to do all the work with integrity, so I have to trust that He has a good plan. That even as I apply for a stable full-time work with benefits and pay, He will provide the opportunity. I just hope it’s soon because no matter where I apply, it is difficult to even get a foot through the door.

 

God blessed me with godly people, people willing to give me a chance along the way. While the work opportunities were not full time with benefits and they expressed they couldn’t provide sign language interpreters, I just stuck with it. I had to.

 

This is not desperation, although many might see it that way. This is what it means to hustle. And yes, some chances should be turned down (I am looking at you, pyramid scheme companies!!!!), try the best you can, to learn as much as you can. Because being D/deaf, you will, in the words of my former EM Pastor: “always have to work harder, smarter, and better than anybody else.”

 

Dear reader, whether D/deaf or hearing, disabled or not, may God give you the ability to produce wealth. When you finally get the job you need or want, don’t forget the One who brought you where you needed to be. And always remember to serve others with the same love you received from Christ.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

Thanksgiving 2019

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! – With Love, Redemption Ministries

ALTERNATE TEXT: Pink and red roses are in the background. The quoted text is Psalm 100 (NLT). The Redemption Ministries logo is near the bottom right corner of the picture.

“Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Psalm 100 NLT)

Conferring Value on Life

WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD ABOUT SHERLOCK (BBC) SERIES 4 EPISODE 2! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN IT – WELL, YOU’VE BEEN FOREWARNED!!

Watson: “You didn’t kill Mary. Mary died saving your life. It’s her choice. No one made her do it, no one could ever make her do anything. But the point is, you did not kill her.”

Sherlock: “In saving my life she conferred a value on it. It is a currency I do not know how to spend.”

Watson: “It is what it is.”

“The Lying Detective.” Sherlock, series 4, episode 2, BBC, 18 Oct. 2019. Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/title/70202589

Any Sherlock (BBC) fans?

Series 4 episode 2 for me was one of the most poignant of all the others I’ve watched.

The writers were brilliant in the way they prepared and established the relationship between Sherlock and Watson as they began to reconcile with Mary’s death on their own terms.

Friendships, with all its complexities and troubles, can enrich our lives in more ways than we can ever express.

Sherlock wisely pointed out that when Mary chose to save his life, taking the bullet for herself that was meant for him, it showed him his life is of great value. An high price he did not know how to repay or do with.

But both men knew that they had to live somehow, to move on despite their grief. They could not remain as they were – broken, lost, full of bitterness. Both believed that no matter how much time passes, nothing will be the same ever again. Her life – and her sacrifice – forever changed them.

This is what Christ meant when He said: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NLT)

When Christ laid down His life for us, it was done freely of His own accord (John 10:10; John 10:17-18).

He goes on to say: “You are my friends if you do what I command. … You didn’t choose me. I chose you… This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:14, 16a, 17 NLT emphasis mine)

Know this – true friendships are rare. I hope that you not only are a true friend to others, but have true friends in your life as well. Blessings to you.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 NLT)

Covering Wrongs

Imagine that you are assigned to complete a significant project with a partner. The prize for the winning project is huge, and many others are talking about it. Everywhere you go, it seems that people are buzzing with excitement. You hear snatches of conversations of their ambitions – including the concerns about the deadline, the requirements for the project, and so on. The theme looks exciting, and you look forward to brainstorming and developing ideas with your partner.

However, starting on the very first day, you and your partner just do not get along. While everyone else have already gotten their ideas down and have made progress, your partner disagrees with you on virtually everything both of you should do.

You cannot seem to convince that person, even as you try to compromise your ideas, exploring other options. You feel like you are the only one doing your best, while your ideas seem to be dismissed as either being too ambitious for the limited time frame, or too costly or impossible to do.

As the deadline looms closer, neither of you are closer to even making the first step of your plans into reality.

In person, both of you try to work it out as sensible, rational individuals.

However, when that person is not around, you complain bitterly to your friends and family. How disagreeable, uncooperative, irrational that person is. That you wished you never were paired with a partner like that. Somehow, your ideas never seem to be taken into consideration, but only shot down.

Then one day, you overhear a conversation between your partner and someone else. To your shock, you hear the exact same things being said about you that you had ranted about that person to others. Me? Irrational? Unwilling to compromise? Difficult to work with?

But while you listen a bit longer to how that person is talking about you, you realize something. While your ideas have merit, the things your partner brought up – the cost, the amount of time to complete the tasks, the purpose…these things do have importance, too. That person also felt like they weren’t being listened to.

What would you do if you heard someone voice the same complaints as you did about them?

When our lives are disrupted because we just cannot seem to work in harmony with others, our first habit is to complain.

Whether it be in group project, our boss, a church member, family, relatives, friends…we don’t bless. We curse them. Yes, complaining is a form of cursing people.

This is why God hated it when Israelites complained – as a result of their complaining, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. They suffered and died for their constant complaining.

James warned: “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9 NLT)

Instead of complaining, which is from the absence of love, we need to learn to bless and not curse. Yes, bless and not curse, no matter how justified we may feel about ourselves and others (Romans 12:14).

Remember that Christ also loves you.

And truth to be told, have you ever considered that God doesn’t always agree with us? Yet He never complains or bad mouths us behind our backs. Rather, He gave Christ to cover over our wrongs. And tells us directly when we need to get straight with Him and be humble.

When Christ covered our wrongs through His work on the cross and forgave us, we receive it.

But why receive this grace for ourselves and still deny that grace for others (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:31-32; 1 Corinthians 4:7)? Do you not have any respect for God and what He has done – and still continues to do – for each and every one of the people in your life?

We received the Holy Spirit to do onto others what Christ did for us (2 Timothy 1:7).

And last but not least: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

Who’s covering for you with their love? Even if it’s only Christ and not people, isn’t it time for you to do the same?

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” – John 2:6 (NIV)

Isaiah 40:6

(Alt text: Background is a variety of flowers, some alive and a few withered. Isaiah 40:6 NIV is placed on top in bold text bordered in white. The church logo, a bold R with a red cross at the bottom right corner of the letter is on the lower right side of the picture.)

(Alt text: Background is a variety of flowers, some alive and a few withered. Isaiah 40:6 NIV is placed on top in bold text bordered in white. The church logo, a bold R with a red cross at the bottom right corner of the letter is on the lower right side of the picture.)

Seeing Our Worth

Very distressing to see news of a girl with disabilities being beaten while onlookers watched and reportedly laughed at her.

This is why children need to be taught from birth to be kind to those with disabilities, not just those without them. The world isn’t so kind – and it seems that it has been getting far worse than better.

Not so long ago, a young child asked me if I was “cursed” because of my disability. She was five. Apparently, her mother told her that the reason why I have a disability is because I have been cursed. Parents, know this: people with disability(s) are not cursed, aren’t a burden or of less worth. What did Christ say? He speaks very clearly on this when the disciples wondered the same thing in John 9.

We can do better. Teach yourselves and future generations that contrary to how society conditions us, we are of great worth. We have skills and talents, potential and passions and dreams. Like our non-disabled counterparts, we are learning how to navigate our way in this world. Only when we all come together to see one another as human beings worthy of respect and care (for we all are made in the image of God), then perhaps, we will learn to truly love in the same way He loves us.

But the reality is, people with disabilities are at higher risk for violence and abuse. There will always be individuals or groups in society who do not change. Without justice to confront them and their malicious deeds, they will continue with impunity. The arm of justice punishes as well as protects. We need to have legal enforcement and protection of our rights.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. – Psalm 82:3 (KJV)

Fully Equipped

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

What do you call a person without sight? Blind.

A person who does not hear? Deaf/HOH.

A person who cannot walk? Paraplegic.

There are more, but all fall under the general term: disabled.

In this, we only see what is lacking. The lack of capability, the loss of potential, the “brokenness” that comes with disability(s).

But what if I told you that all of us have a disability of a spiritual kind? Let’s read:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” – Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT)

One thing that people with disability(s) will tell you is that all they need is to be fully equipped. Whether it be through technology, sign language interpreters, alternative text, changes in the environment, visual aids, etc., these require people to band together in order to support the member of society with disability(s). Equipping people with disability(s) regardless of cost requires compassion. No, it actually requires more – love.

Love is how God treats us, all of us, who are spiritually sick, who are spiritually incapable of redeeming ourselves.

Rather than being apathetic to our wretched state, God sent Christ to suffer as we did, and through His suffering, He is able to empathize with us. He is compassionate towards us.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

Instead of refusing to accommodate for our weakness, God gave all the tools and resources we need in order to live our lives in a way that pleases Him. The Bible specifically states that we are prepared and equipped through His Word!

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

Moreover, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth!

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13 (ESV)

If we receive all these good things from the Lord, how can we not help those with disability(s) in our communities by equipping them with what they need? Indeed, we all are without excuse. Either in our complacency, lack of compassion or laziness, when we do harm to our neighbor, who’s to say that God will provide when we know we have the capacity and the means to do so?

It is written: “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” – James 2:15-16 (NLT)

And again: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:17-18 (ESV)

Since God has equipped us fully, let us no longer actively and/or passively deny those in need. Be filled with His Spirit, moved through love for others in Christ.

Sharing Burdens

Note: This is a raw, honest testimony. Because it comes from a D/deaf point of view, it will be very different from what hearing people understand and experience. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read. This is not a “pity me” post. It is a call to action. Are you ready to join us? We have sign language 🙂

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of our anxieties stem from external factors. It usually comes from people (we all are guilty as charged) looking out for their own interests without considering other’s interests as well. We can practice all the self-care we want, but until the root of the problem is resolved (usually comes from working in concert with other people), anxieties will continue to eat away at us.

Let me give one personal example. Deaf anxiety.

Deaf anxiety – what is it? My first clear understanding of it came from a Deaf activist, Artie Mack.

He articulated many things I experienced as a person who went through all stages of hearing loss (from mild hearing loss to profoundly deaf). Deaf anxiety is hard for hearing people to understand – I think it is one of those things that have to be lived in order to be understood.

D/deaf, HOH and those with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) carry the heaviest burden when interacting with hearing people. To make communication work.

Part of deaf anxiety is feeling as if I’m a burden. People may not necessarily say it out loud, but the way they have treated me shows differently. The deep sighs when asked to repeat. The eye rolling as if I should have known better and should be keeping up with everyone else. The “never mind”, “I will tell you later,” “it’s not that important”…..The dismissal attitudes. I am always placed in situations where I have to meet the expectations of hearing people around me to process and respond in the same pace as they do – without support. Without any accommodation.

Deaf anxiety is not related to our identity of being D/deaf, or the challenges related to our disability. Rather, it comes from the fact that we constantly overwork ourselves to function, communicate, respond and connect with others as a hearing person would without giving any consideration to our own needs. In my perspective, deaf anxiety is mostly a result from the widespread belief and attitudes that we D/deaf people have to accommodate the hearing world. In other words, we constantly challenge ableist attitudes. We live in a society that doesn’t respect us, and teaches us that we have to be like a hearing person. Our anxieties come from external factors, and therefore requires external solutions in collaboration with hearing people to address them. We live in an inaccessible society!

I’m told that I lip-read pretty well. But the truth? There is always the chance that I misunderstand. And I have seen the ugly side of people who have used that against me. The problem is that while speech accommodates hearing people, lip-reading does not accommodate D/deaf or HOH. When D/deaf or HOH people lip-read, they are actually accommodating hearing people as well.

When society tells D/deaf or HOH to just lip-read instead of taking the time to learn sign language, finding alternative as well as appropriate means to communicate, or refuses to hire an interpreter, this leads to problems. These attitudes and ideas are based on the assumption that lip-reading is an acceptable way for D/deaf or HOH to communicate. It also is rooted in the belief that hearing people don’t have to make any meaningful effort to communicate with us. That’s why we say the main difference between D/deaf, HOH and hearing people is privilege. This is not the way Bible teaches us to treat others.

As Christians, whenever it is in our power and capacity to act, please do good to others (Proverbs 3:27). Meet other’s needs even if it means going out of your comfort zone to do so. This is what it means to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

I encourage you to start being more mindful of D/deaf and HOH communities. Try learning more about sign language and take the journey to understand how it is a language equal to spoken and written language. Try to understand how D/deaf and HOH’s experiences are shaped with challenges from learning spoken and written language. Just as you would struggle with learning and communicating through sign language, we too struggle with communicating in spoken and written language. Despite the fact that our language and method of communication is not considered to be “normal” by hearing people’s standards, it does not make sign language any less significant or fully expressive.

If you’re an employer, I strongly recommend you to accommodate the D/deaf or HOH’s needs the best you can in a manner that helps them work and communicate fully without hindrance.

We are all made in the image of God. We all are here for His purpose. We are not a burden. We are your blessing in disguise.

“Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? “ – Exodus 4:11 (NLT)