As soon as my (amazing) wife Brooke says, "Hello!" to anyone, instead of greeting her in return, they usually say something like this...
"Oh did you lose your voice?"
"Sounds like you caught something... It's going around. I had it last week."
"Are you sick?"
"Were you up screaming at him last night?" <gesturing to me>
"Too Much partying... crazy night?"
My wife has a beautiful, scratchy voice. It's music to my ears every time I hear it. I am not surprised when people ask if she is sick, but the last two questions about screaming and partying are so judgmental that I want to throat punch those people. In love, of course.
Brooke's voice has always been a point of frustration for her. She can't talk at parties, she hasn't been able to sing in quite a few years and so, instead, she often sits in humble silence and nods her head in most social settings. Most of the time when Brooke has an awesome one liner or hysterical joke, I am the only one that hears it. I, then, of course just say it louder and receive all the applause and laughter that it usually brings.
We've been together for seven years, married for six, and over the years her voice has gotten better and worse. And then better, and then worse. It's gotten stronger and weaker, so she's tried everything. She's changed diets, tried medicine, tried natural remedies and essential oils, drank more water, got her allergies figured out, researched heart burn and so much more. She's done it all and nothing seemed to really help it, at least not enough. About half way through her pregnancy Brooke's voice took a nose dive. It seemed to get worse every single day. She was having a harder and harder time speaking. She was frustrated. I was frustrated. She was sad. I was sad.
Pregnancy was a quiet time in our house and we were both sure that when June arrived her voice would bounce back and we would go back to "normal." June came into this world on a Thursday night in what was probably one of the calmest and quietest delivery rooms of all time. Nurses even commented on how quiet the room was since Brooke quite literally had no voice and she was our standard for "volume". Fast forward a month or two and we realized that Brooke's voice hadn't improved at all, which was kind of shocking. So, we thought it would just take a little more time, a little more healing, and still nothing.
Eventually, Brooke decided that she wanted to get it checked out, which was something she was a little scared to do. Brooke's Mom actually researched and suggested a doctor. It can be scary not knowing what is wrong, but sometimes it's scarier to actually know. Brooke didn't want some horrible diagnosis that basically said, "Sucks to suck... Enjoy no voice for the rest of your life." For such a long time, not knowing was the less of the two evils and so she was living between a rock and a hard place. I know it frustrated her and as her husband I wanted her to get checked out, but I also knew that it was up to her, not me. I would encourage, cheerlead and respect Brooke as she dealt with something that I knew was bothersome to her.
My wife is a brilliant, beautiful, smart, talented and amazing woman. It doesn't take long to realize those things when you get to know her. But she wasn't letting anyone to get to know her because of her voice. It was painful to talk and communicate with people so she just took the position of wallflower, which at times, has made her even smarter and more brilliant. She has been the humble observer, studying how people work, how they act and re-act. It's that observing humility that has caused her to take great strides in personal growth. She knows how people work and how they like to be treated. She's watched as a third party and now when she treats people that way, they are so touched. I know I am when she wows me with her amazing, incredible love. It's also allowed her to notice all the things I do that I should be more aware of...
"T.J... Do you realize that you talk with your hands in front of your face a lot? I can't see what you're saying."
T.J.... Do you know how often you scratch your butt in public?"
"T.J.... Do you know that you look exactly like Channing Tatum and Brad Pitt?"
Okay, so I made that last one up. She didn't actually say it with her words. She said it with her eyes.
She took her observer position with grace and humility, which has impressed me so much. I am always amazed how talented Brooke is and how little she draws attention to it. She could do anything she wanted in this world. She could have any creative job, she could live in any creative city, she could be anything, and yet she chose to marry a goofy guy like me and then she chose to love me every single day, even through the hand talking and butt scratching. It's overwhelming and like with most blog posts I write about Brooke, now I am crying.
Every night since her voice started to get worse and worse, I laid next to my wife in bed and pleaded with God to just make her voice strong. Just let Brooke sing. Let her be able to make those hysterical one-liners that only I hear. Let her share her brilliant opinion. Let her solve problems in a way that no one else seems to notice. I would plead with God to swap the strength of our voices. Lord knows I could use a couple of years of not being able to talk and living humbly in the corner. But every morning I would wake up to my beautiful, semi-snoring wife and she would sound the same.
Then one day, as I was sitting on the couch working on my laptop, Brooke came down the stairs and asked if I would make a phone call for her. That was not unusual at all because I make almost every phone call for her. She said I need you to call this number and make an appointment. I could tell that she was pretty emotional about it because it was a step that she was scared to take.
What if knowing is worse than not knowing?
So, I called the Ear/Nose/Throat doctor. We made an appointment. We went in for her appointment a few weeks later. He asked questions. Brooke answered. I sat anxiously and tried to crack a few jokes so I would feel better. He looked in her nose. I sat and waited. He looked in her mouth. I sat and waited. He took out this crazy looking device and looked down her throat. I gagged a little, but also sat and waited. He took the camera out and said, quite casually, "Oh, there's your problem."
Calmly we both replied, "What?" Meanwhile in my head I am thinking "THERE WHAT IS??!?! TELL US AND TELL US NOW!!"
"You have a polyp on your vocal chords." He said it with such a calmness that I felt like it was no big deal. Bravo on the bedside manner doc!
He went on to explain that we had nothing to worry about, that a minor surgery and a few weeks of voice rest will take care of it. We scheduled a surgery date, six weeks out, at the front desk.
As we walked out of the doctors office, I felt my loving wife lean against me, sliding under my arm, and begin to cry. For years she had felt like she was going to be the person that "everyone asked about her voice". She thought she would continue to have to turn down every invitation to every meal in a loud and noisy restaurant. She thought she'd have to turn down every coffee invitation due to the loud espresso machines and blenders whirring in the background. She thought she would never be able to add to a conversation or make a funny joke. That every walk around town would forever have to avoid all the main roads, and stick only to the quiet back-alley streets. She thought that she would forever remain quiet.
And now, there was hope.
There was hope of a new voice.
OKAY, HOW DO PEOPLE NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS?!?!
Because isn't that what He does over and over again in our lives. He takes a hopeless situation and fills it with hope. He takes a death and brings it back to life. He takes mourning and turns it to joy. He takes ashes and exchanges them for beauty. He gives us a new hope, a new life and a new voice.
And now, my wife, whom I love so much and have prayed so long for, is getting a new voice.
I always told Brooke that when she meets Jesus for the first time she will be able to sing with Him as loud as she wants. But what God is doing now is bringing Heaven to Earth. He is not waiting to give her a new voice in heaven, he is doing it now, because Brooke is too valuable to His glorious plan to remain silent anymore.
She has wandered through the wilderness of silence for years, and is now ready to enter the Promise Land of singing.
She will be able to talk loudly and read books to our little girl June. She will be able to sing to the One who saves. She will be able to interrupt me when I am being a doofus. She will be able to sing with me when I am making up songs about what I am doing. She will be able to sit down in coffee shops and have actual life-giving conversations. She will be able to talk at parties. She will be able to listen to music in the car AND have a conversation at the same time. She will be able to be a guest on my podcast. She will be able to be in videos we make for walk in love. She will be able to speak on a stage. She will be able to share her story. She will change lives with her voice.
I believe in a God who desperately wants to love us the best way we need. Maybe we don't understand the timing or the reasoning or the steps it takes, but I know that God is good. I know that He loves my wife more than I do and I know that His plan is sufficient. I know that Heaven is coming to earth when Brooke starts singing and talking and proclaming His name.
It's in moments like this that I realize how deep the Fathers love for us actually is. Imagine how excited He is for Brooke to speak, sing and shout again. I mean, every day I spend at least 30 minutes just trying to get June to say, "Dada." I want to hear her say my name because it will make my heart sing. God is looking for the same thing, from us all, and for whatever reason, now is the time for Brooke.
Brooke will sing again and I will get to sit in the front row. I am so excited!
Brooke's surgery is scheduled for November 2nd. She will have at least two weeks of voice rest afterward. Please pray for her! And if you see her in public during this time, ask her YES or NO questions.