Last week I started to get sick. It's not surprising, really. I mean, it is the middle of October, Stewardship campaign is fully underway, charge conference is just around the bend, we had a MAJOR fundraiser on Sunday, etc, etc, etc. All of which is to say I have been working a lot of overtime and the weather is temperamental, all of which contributes to a good time of sick.
I was whiny and miserable on Thursday. Friday I laid low and generally did a whole lot of nothing. Saturday and Sunday I went full boar because there was no other option with our major fundraiser happening Sunday night. Monday I went to Bible study and then went home for the majority of the rest of the day. Tuesday, I did staff meeting and came home and by the time I was done Tuesday my voice was totally gone.
This morning wasn't any better. In fact, it was worse. No voice. I can eek out some stuff to talk if I have to, but it's painful. It actually hurts to talk.
I realize this happens to lots of people all the time, but it has never happened to me. Even in my years of yelling as a cheerleader, I never lost my voice. I got a little hoarse on occasion, but never lost my voice.
And, to be honest, as someone who speaks as a big part of her profession, it's kinda scary.
I am fairly certain this will be short lived and I will be back to talking like normal. But I also have to admit that there is a part of me that is scared out of her wits that I might never get my voice back. I realize that's not rational thought, really I do, but I can't help but go there.
I mean really, what if I never get my voice back? That would ruin my life as a preacher. What would I do then? What would I do if I couldn't be a preacher? That's my life. That's my identity. That's what I know and love and I don't want to do anything besides be a preacher. And then there's the part of what would I do? I'm bilingual and I've always figured I could rely on that for another job if I needed too....it's marketable...unless you can't speak, then it's kind of worthless...unless I work as a translator of written works (which I've done on occasion).
I try not to dwell in delusional paranoia too long, and really do trust that my voice will return. But it has made me take a step back and think about what my other options would be if for some reason I could not be a pastor. It's weird to even imagine rebuilding my life around anything other than ministry. Impossibly hard actually.
I suppose it's one of those times where you don't realize how much you need/want/appreciate something until it's gone. If I'm honest I totally undervalue my voice. I have little appreciation for all that I am able to do through spoken word. I preach. I teach. I counsel. I bring comfort. I pray. I lead meetings. I give vision. I advocate for others. I share ideas. I give instructions. The list goes on and on.
And it's not that I have to be talking all the time either. I'm good with silence. It doesn't bother me a bit to be in silence. I don't get squeamish or anxious. But I guess all of that is because I know I could communicate if I wanted to. I always trust there will be a return to talking, so why panic? Just enjoy the quiet.
But now...it's creepy and frustrating not being able to talk. I can't return phone calls. I can't teach. I can't check on people who have been in the hospital. I can't lead a meeting. I can't even call outside to let R know it's time for lunch. Nothing.
I suppose, for now, I need to appreciate the silence (I need to let my voice rest and find peace in not having to speak all the time). I also need to appreciate all that my voice does allow me to do so I can be even more grateful when it returns. And....as Berta reminded me, if I don't regain my voice, I can follow the wise words of Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words."