“I was very angry. I felt stuck between two worlds – the Deaf and the hearing.” – Gaby Duke
“I had a lot of frustration and sadness over being born with hearing loss and felt like God didn’t get it right,” said Gaby Duke. “There were no answers to why my left ear hadn’t worked since birth. In 4th grade, I woke up one day and couldn’t hear much out of my right ear either. To this day, nobody knows why.
“I was an expert at hiding my hearing loss. My mother had no idea that I would cry alone in my room about feeling different. Later, I didn’t want my husband to see how hard it was for me. Hearing loss was my struggle. I kept it to myself.
“Growing up, I learned about Christ and knew what the Bible said to do. But I didn’t have daily time in God’s Word or an intimate relationship with Christ. In college, I started to question God. Why did He allow me to have hearing loss? I was frustrated by the lack of answers.
“I hated wearing a hearing aid! It was a visible indication that something was wrong. I wore my hair down all the time to hide it. My mom encouraged me to learn sign language, but at first I refused. In college, I finally realized my hearing wasn’t going to change, so I learned sign language and fell in love with it. I started going to Starbucks with other Deaf people and learned more about Deaf culture (yes, there is such a thing). For the first time, I met people who knew and understood this part of my life.
“In college, I got my hearing tested again, and an Audiologist recommended getting a cochlear implant. Many in the Deaf community are opposed to cochlear implants, and I had concerns too. You can clearly see the implant, so wouldn’t that just reinforce to everyone around me that I was different?
“I wasn’t good at vocalizing what I felt, and I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the surgery. It was a busy season. My parents were divorcing, I was getting engaged, and I was about to graduate from college. But in the middle of all that, without processing the decision at all, I had cochlear implant surgery.
“You might think it was wonderful when they turned on the cochlear implant, but it sounded terrible. I could not pick up sound in one ear, and everything sounded like white noise. I couldn’t listen to music or even talk on the phone. That was frustrating because it forced me to rely on other people. Although I knew eventually the cochlear implant would work, I was very angry. I felt stuck between two worlds – the Deaf and the hearing.
“My resistance to receiving help from others crept into my marriage. In fact, I wanted out three months after saying, ‘I do.’ I disliked sharing and being vulnerable. I had a ton of anxiety, to the point that I couldn’t eat. And I blamed my husband for all of it. Plus, my parents had recently gotten divorced. Who’s to say that same thing wouldn’t happen to us?
“Fortunately, one of the leaders of our Foundation Group just happened to know a lot about hearing and speech loss. One night, she mentioned my hearing loss in front of the group, and it really bothered me. But rather than staying mad, I talked with her about it. Of course she apologized, but she also asked if I’d really processed the loss of my hearing. She encouraged me to look at what it was like to lose my hearing and then regain it with the implant. It was time to pull some of the weeds out of my heart and talk about my disability in light of the sovereign goodness of God.
“I’d never talked about my hearing loss or about the anger I had about my parents’ divorce until I came to re:generation. The ladies in my group really listened to me and never tried to ‘fix’ me. Over time, I learned how to voice my needs.
“I finally started to understand how much I needed God’s grace and how important it was to extend grace to others. I learned the depth of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the healing and freedom that come from a personal relationship with the Lord.
“Since then, God has transformed my life. In community with others, my husband and I are able to walk through conflicts and identify unhealthy patterns. With the Lord’s help, I’m working on my tendency to control and be dominant. It’s hard, but so worth it.
“Now I view my hearing loss as a gift. I have a heart to see people in the Deaf community come to know the Lord. I have a desire to start a Deaf ministry and pray for the provision of skilled interpreters who have a heart to see the Deaf come to know the Lord. I know now that God’s Word says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I trust in what Scripture says about me, and am open to what God desires. It’s for His glory that I’ve been given hearing loss.”
If you are interested in learning more about how you can minister to the Deaf, please contact Mark Nicholson firstname.lastname@example.org