Deafening Silence

When in the NICU, friends and family joined with us to pray for our little 2 pound baby Aubree, specifically for her lungs to strengthen.

Let’s just say the prayers were effective and Aubree has had ZERO problems since that time (thank you, God!).

Now we spend a lot of time praying for her self-control when it comes to using those strong lungs! Ha! She has a lovely singing voice when she is happy, and a piercing, pterodactyl-like screech when she is feeling frustrated. And she is famous for her one volume setting: loud.

Like all toddlers, Aubree has big feelings. That combined with her decibel level makes our lives quite interesting.

Some days we see it as a challenge, but lately I have been considering the blessing of her loud expression of joys and frustrations.

Life brings a lot of emotions. Lately as a family, we have had to battle grief over leaving the clubhouse ministry, homesickness for Costa Rica, anxiety about finding housing and vehicles while here, etc.

It’s interesting, because we do not always take the time to process our emotions or even recognize that we are having them. Often we are so distracted by our busyness that we do not take the time to reflect on what exactly we are feeling and why.

About a month ago, Aubree’s emotions were off the charts. Happy one minute, rolling on the ground crying the next. We didn’t understand what was happening since she seemed to have been adjusting quite well to our traveling lifestyle.

At bedtime one night, Ethan pulled out a book our friend Hannah (a missionary nanny in Africa) had gifted us. Usually Aubree doesn’t love long stories, but she zoned in on this one.

Swirly, by Sara Saunders, is about a young girl named Lila whose parents move from country to country. She quickly realizes that she does not belong anywhere, not even in her parent’s home country. In the end, the book celebrates being cross-cultural or “swirly.” It even points out that Jesus was swirly because he did not fit in on earth.

After reading the book, Aubree started to visibly relax. She asks to read it all the time now because it encourages her when she feels out of place or a lack of a sense of belonging. And to be honest, the book helped us understand her better as well as ourselves.

We had not even realized that we feel out of place sometimes. That it is hard to fit in when you live cross-culturally. That we don’t fully understand our own daughter because although she is a U.S. citizen, the U.S. is actually quite foreign to her.

Our society tends to be silent about our emotions. When asked how we are doing, we respond, “Good.” I don’t even think that is us avoiding being honest. Half the time, do we even know what our feelings are?

In fact, I have noticed that instead of dealing with emotions through conversation, prayer, journaling, or counseling, the trend seems to be vegging out in front of the television, filling our schedules with activities, or scrolling for hours through social media apps on our phones.

What a simple but profound reminder for us. We might not scream, laugh, or cry with a deafening voice, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions to consider.

That’s one of many lesson that my strong-lunged baby girl has taught me: that the only thing worse than deafening screams is deafening silence.


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