On November 2, 2015 Brooke had surgery to remove a polyp that had (unknowingly) been growning on her vocal chord for the last 5 years. Before the surgery, I wrote a post titled Brooke Will Sing Again and like anything I do with, or write about Brooke, people loved it, because well... people just love Brooke. 😍
I have been more active on Snapchat lately and almost every time someone sends me a Snap back, it's usually something like this:
"How did Brooke do what she did?"
"Brooke is amazing."
"Brooke looks so cool."
"I want to be friends with Brooke."
And I love it. Normally, I would try to make a joke about not getting any love, but honestly, nothing makes me happier than people enjoying my wife. She is the coolest. And I am so glad that through social media others can get to know her and enjoy her the way I get to every day!
One question that has been popping up a lot lately on my feed is, "How is Brooke's voice?"
Honestly, I have tried to write and answer that question at least 10 times and every time I start typing I end up just deleting it, but I think that this time I am just going to go for it.
After Brooke's surgery she spent 10 days not saying a single word. 10 days of voice rest was expected of her and I think she mayyyybe slipped up six times and said a total of 12 words in 10 days. That, by itself, is unbelievable. That type of self-control and discipline is off the charts. Think about that the next time you are tempted by a cookie or want to talk yourself out of a 30 minute work-out. That's literally what has inspired me to get my butt back in shape. If Brooke can not talk for 10 days, I can work out for 30 minutes every day. She is constantly inspiring me to be the best version of myself that I can be.
So, by itself, 10 days of voice rest self-control is amazing, but then add little June-bug to the mix. At the time of the surgery June was nine months old and Brooke had to love her silently. At first, June was a little freaked out. She would look to Brooke and then to me and I would talk to her. Then she would look back to Brooke with a quizzical look that asked, "Why isn't mom talking?" For the first two or three days we could tell that it was confusing her. That was really hard on Brooke. You can't explain to a nine month old that Mom just had arthroscopic surgery on a vocal polyp and requires 10 days of voice rest to let it heal, but she still loves you, so don't worry about it! I mean, I am the first to tell you how smart my baby is, but even June is not that smart.
And just like Brooke has done over and over in the six years we've been married, she starts teaching me something beautiful with humble grace. Brooke's voice did not determine her love for June.
And how often do I feel like God's love is gone from me when He is silent. How often do I look up quizzically (or angrily) at God and think "WHY ARE YOU SILENT? DON'T YOU LOVE ME?!?"
Brooke's love for June was unchanged by words. She loved her the same amount the day before surgery as she did on the last day of voice rest. Her ability to answer June, or speak to June, did not determine her love. You may end up in the same boat I do when I feel like God is silent - that because His words aren't loud or jumping off the pages of the Bible that His love is distant or has mysteriously vanished.
But maybe, just maybe, God is actually closer than ever at those moments. Maybe instead of speaking to you, He is calling you to just sit silently in His presence. To sit in His overwhelming, loving arms and weep about loss or tragedy. To be close to Him in a way that words sometimes just don't work to describe a love like that. I love hearing Brooke tell me that she loves me, but our love isn't solely based on her ability to speak, but yet, I so often expect or require that of God. I can't allow Him to be silent in my life, because his silence must mean the love is gone.
For 10 days I had a front row seat to watching my amazing wife love our beautiful little girl by smiling at her, holding her, picking her up, laying her down, playing with her, walking with her, looking at her, changing her, feeding her and so many other actions all without a single sound. When is the last time we paid attention to all the things that God does for us without words? Did we thank Him for the breath He just gave us? Did we thank Him for the neurons firing off in our brain that allow us to read this sentence and understand it? Did we thank him for the hands we work with or the feet we are walking on? When is the last time we just said, "God, your presence is enough!" When is the last time we sat in our room quietly and let God love us the way Brooke loved June for 10 days - silently.
It's scary when you feel God is distant, but He never is. He is always with you and always loving you even if He seems silent. I saw my wife love my daughter for 10 days of silence and when I see that I think "How much more will your father in heaven.." - Matthew 7:11
How much more will He be there for you, even in silence?
How much more will He give the good and perfect gifts to you, when you ask?
How much more love will He pour out on you in all seasons of your life?
How much more? How much more? How much more?
I don't know where you are right now, and I don't even know how you landed on this post, but I do know that even when God feels most distant His love is strong, even when we feel silence is His only response, His presence is enough. He says,
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46: 10-11
After 10 days of voice rest, Brooke spoke again in the doctors office for the first time, while I was sitting in the room with her, holding June. Her voice sounded as strong as when we first started dating and I was instantly flashed back to early moments of our relationship when we were falling in love. She sounded like she did on our first date to McDonald's and swinging at Reidenbaugh Elementary School, where we talked about our families, our jobs and our dreams. She sounded like she did the first night we kissed after watching Indiana Jones. She sounded like she did when she said, "Yes" after I asked her to marry me. She sounded like she did when she said, "I do" on our wedding day.
I only know the burden that Brooke carried about the loss of her voice through my perspective. I can't begin to imagine the frustration she felt daily as she struggled to speak. But after many years of struggling in frustrated silence - she is on the other side. She still has some therapy to go to and exercises to do. She still has to think about the way she speaks because of the bad habits she learned over time. It is by no means totally healed. Like most surgeries, injuries and heartache, a time of recovery and strengthening is required, but it is better! SO MUCH BETTER!
I can hear her when I am downstairs and she is upstairs.
I can hear her over music in the car.
She can make phone calls!
Even today we sang, "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat..." to June while we got ready.
Brooke has a new voice. It's a voice that has been tried and tested, it has been hurt and scarred, it has been repaired and rebuilt. It is a voice with lessons upon lessons upon lessons that have taught us about grace upon grace upon grace. It might not ever be what she hopes for while we live our lives on earth, but still, I know with 100% confidence that when she says, "Hello" to her Father in heaven someday, it will be everything she ever hoped it would be.
Brooke has a new voice and I love it just as much as I loved her old one -- with words, and in silence.