Last night I went out with some NCCers to celebrate Kari Olney’s birthday. Kari is the deaf protÃ©gÃ© at National Community Church. I’ve been feeling guilty lately about not putting enough effort into communication with her because #1 She’s a great person with an awesome heart and a great sense of humor, #2 she’s doing some groundbreaking things at NCC via her outreach to the deaf population of D.C, and #3 she’s a fellow biker! I’ve realized lately that I was letting my insecurities of not being able to easily communicate get in the way of developing relationship.
So I was excited when the girl who organized the outing announced as we sat down for dinner that since it was Kari’s birthday, we were going to honor her by not using any verbal communication until we went our separate ways. We were forced to use ASL and other random gestures to say what we wanted to say.
I won’t lie…when we were first told this, I wasn’t elated…and at first it was awkward. But I quickly and realized that this was a great opportunity to attack my insecurities head on and do something that took me out of my comfort zone. And you know what, it was a blast! I made people spell things out a million times for me nice and slow so my brain could process each letter, but I learned how to sign new words.
I also got a small glimpse into the life of deaf people. People watched us both in the restaurant, on the street afterwards, and then while enjoying some dessert at Tangy Sweet. We had to write our orders down at Tangy Sweet. (Well, most of us did…a few people cheated….cheaters!) I noticed one guy walking back and forth outside on his phone staring at us. There was a couple outside of Teaism who were giggling about us. And the entire night I was waiting to hear someone say something about us so I could yell, BOOYA! I can hear you! But it never happened.)
It made me really want to learn another language. You can never go wrong by having another language in your back pocket. It also increased my respect for Kari. She’s such a gracious and patient teacher. She has to say things 3 times for me to understand them, but she does it with a smile.
My silent night was a holy night. It’s an altar. It’s part of what God has been doing to break down my pride.