A couple of years ago, my husband started complaining about my hearing: “I have to yell for you to hear me, and then you get mad at me for yelling at you.” “You just don’t hear me when I answer you!” I would reply defensively. In truth, I often didn’t respond loudly enough to his calls. Or, I would be so engrossed in what I was doing that, though I did hear him, I didn’t bother to respond at all. Besides, I was pretty sure he was the one with the hearing problem.
Finally, he prevailed upon me to get an audiology appointment, where my ears proved capable—except for some notable losses in my mid-range hearing. Interestingly, this happens to be the range of my husband’s voice. I could hear, I just couldn’t hear him.
So I got hearing aids. Nifty little guys—substantially smaller than the ear trumpets of old. Because my hearing loss is mostly in one ear, I asked if I just needed to wear one hearing aid. “No,” said the audiologist. “You would hear more through your device, and you could be confused about the location of the sound.” So I wear both.
I don’t feel a stigma about needing help to hear. I’ve needed help to see for most of my life, so I am grateful for the technology that allows me to hear my husband speaking softly. Hearing is precious.
Even more than my husband’s voice, I want to hear God’s quiet voice speaking to me. I know He speaks to me and blesses me much more than I recognize. There is power in knowing that the messages that pop into my mind are divine. (“Stop by your friend’s house.” “Check the tires.” “Put down your phone.”) I think that if I was sure of their source, I would act on those ideas more often. I need some divine hearing aids.
What aids me in hearing His voice? God’s word, recorded by scriptures and modern prophets are a great place to start. Often, I notice little reminders or pieces of information come to me as I read. The same thing can happen to me while I am playing the piano—particularly hymns. During or after prayer can be a time He may communicate with me, or in the quiet early morning hours, just before rising. Often the messages are fleeting and fade quickly and must be recorded or lost.
Early one morning, after a troubling day, I dozed, reviewing my frustrations. Suddenly, I began to have a flood of problem-solving ideas. Creative solutions abounded, and I was excited about the possibility of putting these wonderful plans to work. However, it was 2 a.m., and I was drowsy. I concentrated on the solutions to be sure they would be in my mind when I awoke and could begin to implement them. Then I slipped into slumber. When I did awake, however, my mind was as clear as the sky—not a whisper of my midnight thoughts remained. I was too casual, so I lost them. It was a hard lesson to learn.
Because my spiritual hearing wanes occasionally, I am sometimes unsure if I am really hearing His voice, or my own confusion. I have discovered before-and-after ways to sort this out. First, if it is a good idea, do it—God is the originator of all goodness and good ideas. I love the feeling of a good idea carried through. Conversely, if I don’t choose to do it, afterwards I know I missed an opportunity, and I feel regret. I hate regret, but it does help me to recognize my fault, repent, and look for a way to hear Him better next time.
I am so grateful I can repent! I surely need it!
When I got my hearing aids, my audiologist commented that sometimes people don’t come to her until their hearing has seriously deteriorated. This can be a problem, because hearing isn’t just volume, it’s word recognition, too. When the brain doesn’t hear words, it loses the ability to decode the sound into meaning. Hearing aids can increase the volume, but they can’t help the brain make sense of them. The sound remains unintelligible—just louder.
I believe that this same principle applies to hearing heavenly messages. The sooner we learn to recognize them, the better. As parents, I think it’s important to teach our children to understand that the sweet feelings that accompany a kind act or a breathtaking sunrise are messages from their Heavenly Father. I’ve also noticed our recognition of the divine Voice can suffer from disuse. The messages aren’t received or understood. We flounder.
As I try to identify His voice from the cacophony around me, it is helpful to know what His voice is not. He is not loud or pushy. He is not panicked or fearful or angry. He is not mean. Those voices do not bring peace. Also, when my voice becomes rancorous or rough, my heavenly hearing aids don’t work at all.
And it’s pointless for me to hear Him if I don’t choose to act on his counsel. Like my conversations with my husband—if I didn’t respond to what was said, it was assumed that I didn’t hear. If God senses that I don’t or won’t hear, He won’t push his ideas on me. He waits quietly until I am ready to listen again.
I asked other people how they hear him, and I found that how we hear God is similar but distinctive to each of us. One person talked about feeling a sense of lightness or happiness in messages from God. Another person feels His love through the companionship and friendship of others. A couple of people noted a feeling of warmth that accompanies divine communication. Another found that before he acts on a message from God, he isn’t always sure the idea is from heaven. However, afterward, he feels a happy confirmation that what he did was right. It’s a great feeling.
I know that feeling too, and I love it. I want more of it. I know when I follow God’s direction, the results are far larger than my little effort warrants. I go an inch, He carries me miles. I can hear Him every day, if I choose. Think of it—His voice in my ears every day, His warmth in my heart every day. I can be taught by the greatest Mind in the universe if I want. Knowing how He sounds in my life helps me home in on that celestial frequency.
So how do you hear Him? When did you last hear Him? What did He communicate to you? How did you feel before, during and after? What did you learn? Did you write it down? Did you act on it? Will you do better next time?
Recognizing God’s voice is a powerful skill. In a world upside down with confusion and discouragement, He offers counsel, protection and peace. Exactly what we need for such a time as this.
Kristin Fry is a farmer’s wife, retired teacher and happy grandmother. She loves crisp mornings, patient cows and singing children. Kristin is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.